Misery is Optional

Matt and I were driving in the country this week and passed a little church with a sign out front that said, “Trouble in this life is a guarantee, but misery is optional.”

The saying has stuck with me, and I’ve been reflecting on the difference between trouble and misery. It can be very easy for me to have a bad attitude, and this has caused me to be miserable in troubled times and also in not troubled times! I’m working to change that though, and a big step is remembering that most times I am miserable it is because of a perspective I’ve chosen to embrace (and can change!). Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts was very inspiring to me in that regard, and the value of thankfulness still resonates with me.

This is just one of many ideas rolling around in my mind today after a great retreat with other pastors from our denomination. It was a blessing to have time away in a beautiful setting, to have a schedule with space for rest, sessions that were very encouraging, and no dishes to wash for four days! My introvert brain needs more time to process, but bits and pieces will most likely make their way onto the blog over the next little while. In the meantime, I will do my best to avoid misery (and hopefully trouble!) and hope you do the same.

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Donna 26-04-2013, 10:58

I think I am just now embracing that thought. So glad to see that you are already there!

alyssa 26-04-2013, 17:46

Haha you have so much faith in me! It’s definitely something I need to work on.

Ericka M 26-04-2013, 21:09

Yes, to a point, that is, but in this day and age, I find that people are a lot less tolerant or understanding for those who are having hard times, whatever kind they may be. And I find that others who happen to hear or read something “miserable” from me, for some unknown reason, they then think that I’m “always” miserable, but I am not. I am quite humourous, and find that no matter what kind of bad day I’m having, if I then see someone I know, I usually greet them with a cheerful greeting. I think about some hard times some people have had, for example, Amy Grant, my favourite female singer, met this woman who told her that after her mother died, she became, like, bed-ridden depressed for 3 YEARS! To someone else who has never experienced that level of upset maybe doesn’t understand others’ level of upset. I know men wouldn’t know about some, uh, “women’s” type of upsets, and so on. Look at the hard times we have in our lifetimes, never experienced, such as World War I & II. Many people are also taking pharmaceutical drugs, which thing ought not to be and also may be affecting them, etc. (I don’t take any pharmaceutical drugs at all after I learned that natural remedies are God’s way. And the word “pharmacy” comes from, I think, pharmakeia (I’ll check the spelling later) which means witchcraft. So I don’t even take aspirins anymore.

alyssa 28-04-2013, 21:12

Ericka, thanks for the reminder that we don’t always know others’ circumstances – I definitely would never want to judge someone I perceived as miserable and tell them just to “snap out of it.” I was not even thinking of depression or other mental health problems that can affect people’s ability to resist misery. I was just thinking of my own challenges in having a negative attitude sometimes.
Whatever the root of the word pharmacy, I think there are some times when modern medicine is appropriate to take. It is amazing some of the natural remedies that are available, but the way I see it, God created the universe to have order, so the science behind pharmacological drugs is just as honouring to Him. Unfortunately, our current culture is very quick to pop a pill rather than get to the root of our problems, but I do think there are times when effective medicine is a gift from God that we are blessed to have in this day and age.

Ericka M 29-04-2013, 21:57

Alyssa: To further explain, I am not against a God-given medicine or drug. I only was against “pharmaceutical” drugs. Oh, and I looked up the word “Pharmacy” on the Wikipedia definition:

“…The word pharmacy is derived from its root word pharma which was a term used since the 15th–17th centuries. However, the original Greek roots from “Pharmakos” imply sorcery or even poison…”

There is a medical conspiracy out there, not to sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist, as some conspiracy theories aren’t true. But there is a man, a former Satanist, and many other things, who is now a Naturopathic doctor, among other things, who made a video about this. I will see if it is on YouTube. His name is William Schnoebelen and he is with With One Accord Ministries. Also I’ve noticed that over the years, whenever I get the slightest scratch in my skin, right away, a doctor will suggest a vaccine! What for? Garlic cloves will do the same thing without poisoning someone. No, natural and herbal remedies are God’s way.

Susan H 01-05-2013, 11:05

I have just discovered your blog (thanks to Glen’s link on Facebook) and am so enjoying your insights. I appreciate your openness and honesty.
This one really made me think of the freedom we have when we realize that we have been given the gift of choice. We have two options in life: 1) be controlled by our circumstances and emotions, or 2) exercise our gift of choice and choose the more positive way. It’s Philippians 4:8 in action!
Too often lately, I have used my circumstances to excuse my ‘drab mood’. Thank you for the reminder that as adopted members of Christ’s family we have the power of ‘option’. One of my favourite quotes from the Apostle Paul is a bit further in that same chapter of Philippians … “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” (verse 13 – Amplified version).
I so appreciate that we can acknowledge that the feelings and circumstances are real and sometimes can’t be avoided. Even Jesus wept, the Holy Spirit grieves and scripture tells us that even God has been known to get angry. What we are responsible for is what we do in those circumstances and with those emotions … our choice to act in an encouraging and positive manner in spite of ‘not feeling like changing the diaper’ (as you said in your next blog).
Thanks again Alyssa. 🙂

alyssa 01-05-2013, 12:23

Thank YOU for the lovely comment! I love to hear the thoughts that spin off from my writing – I think I’ll give Philippians a read through this afternoon 🙂


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