This life is filled with "good" and "bad." Moments of sailing and moments of sinking. Especially if you are a parent. Keeping the right perspective in the midst of it all is key to staying afloat.
One of my new favorite authors/teachers is Lysa TerKeurst. In one of her books I recently read, she offered two simple, yet profound, perspectives for parents to keep in regards to their children:
1) Don't take too much credit for their good.
2) Don't take too much credit for their bad.
I've marinated on these two perspectives and have found them refreshing and encouraging. Taking too much credit for the good in our children (their strengths, accomplishments, talents, gifts) can lead to a prideful heart and an inflated ego. And taking too much credit for the bad in our children (their mistakes, poor choices, shortcomings, and weaknesses) can lead to a defeated heart and a deflated ego. Neither of the two benefit us in any way.
I think these two perspectives stretch beyond the borders of parenthood as well. When life is going well and we feel abundantly blessed in smooth-sailing, bright, sunshiny skies, we can be tempted to think this is our own doing. That we've worked hard, made good choices, and are reaping the benefits. There is truth to that. But ultimately, all the good in our lives is a gift from God. Each blessing, each victory, each accomplishment, and each talent is a gift from Him. We need to be careful not to hog God's glory and steal it for ourselves, but to properly and rightfully give it back to Him.
When life is filled with adversity and struggle, we can be tempted to think it's our fault and we are being punished for it. I do not want to discount the fact that sometimes we do cause conflict and problems on our own, and there are consequences for them. We reap what we sow, and it's vital to take ownership over these things. However, in these moments of hardship, it's also easy to be weighed down by feelings of failure, inadequacy, and rejection. When we do this, we may find ourselves living in defeat, which is not God's plan for us.
Sarah Young, author of the "Jesus Calling" devotional, writes:
"Nothing, including the brightest blessings and the darkest trials, can separate you from Me (God). Some of My children find Me more readily during dark times, when difficulties force them to depend on Me. Others feel closer to Me when their lives are filled with good things. They respond with thanksgiving and praise, thus opening wide the door to My Presence.
I know precisely what you need to draw closer to Me. Go through each day looking for what I have prepared for you. Accept every event as My hand-tailored provision for your needs. When you view your life this way, the most reasonable response is to be thankful. Do not reject any of My gifts; find Me in every situation."
When life is going well, take the good and give God the glory and thanks for it. When life is hard, take the bad and allow it to increase your faith and dependency on the Lord. Acknowledge your need for Him to come into your weaknesses and show Himself strong.
John Bunyon writes, "If my life is fruitless, it doesn't matter who praises me, and if my life is fruitful, it doesn't matter who criticizes me." Stay humbly encouraged in your moments of sailing and sinking. Lysa reminds us that when life looks messy on the outside, what matters most is what God is doing on the inside.
Perhaps we need to rewrite the lyrics to that old 80's sitcom theme song to this: "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the FAITH of life." Both the good and the bad are gifts from God to draw us closer to Him so that our trust deepens and our lives become fruitful. These are the building blocks to our faith. Take them as a gift today, and give glory and thanks.