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Marriage and Family

Weathering the Storms

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04/01/2011 - Let us pretend for a moment that we are a very bizarre people in which feelings of happiness, peace and contentment are unpleasant and we, as humans, pursue feelings of anxiety, anger and depression. In today's world, achievement of this goal would be accomplished with no effort. We could simply turn on the news and watch for half an hour. We could sit back and think about what he have ahead of us at work or the upcoming family reunion. Many could look at the behavior of their kids or give thought to the influences surrounding kids at school or among their peer group. Though many will argue, especially our spouses, we are not a bizarre people. We are inundated with information and thoughts daily which fuel angst, but what we pursue is joy.

In our efforts to be people of integrity and combat the disease of selfishness, it is imperative that we have joy. The reason is, joy is different than happiness and is not dependent on circumstances. All of us have a very limited ability to control the circumstances in our lives. We cannot control other people, only ourselves. We cannot control events, only our reactions to them. We cannot control tragedies, only how we deal with them. If you have no joy, then all these events in life will destroy you emotionally, mentally and possibly even physically.

Joy is different than happiness in the same way climate is different than weather. For example, Florida is known as the "sunshine state". It has that title because the climate in Florida tends to be sunny and nice. Stormy days still happen in Florida. The stormy days are the weather. On the contrary, the Arctic will tend to be bitterly cold, snowy and windy. Though I have never been there, I am sure the Arctic has some days of sunshine. The climate is bitterly cold but may have some sunny days. What about you? Emotionally are you more like Florida or the Arctic? If you base this off of events and surroundings, most likely you will be more like the Arctic.

Dr. William Backus and Marie Chapian co-authored a book entitled Telling Yourself the Truth. They argue, "Our feelings are not caused by the circumstances of our long-lost childhood or the circumstances of the present. Our feelings are caused by what we tell ourselves about our circumstances, whether in words or in attitudes (Backus & Chapian, 17)." I know this sounds simplistic, and it definitely is much easier to say than to do; but when storms hit, you can weather them more easily when you can know and believe that you are not a victim of these circumstances and they do not define you as a person. Even in relationships that are falling apart, know that you do have the capability of controlling yourself. Remind yourself that you are capable of handling any situation with integrity. As the storm blows, you may get wet, but you will be able to stand. This is what joy looks like.

*Backus, W., Chapian, M., Telling Yourself the Truth. 2000. Bethany House Publishers. Minneapolis, MN.

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