The Best Approach

the-best-angle-from-which-to-approach-any-problem-is-the-try-angle-5I like puzzles, and I like to hand-quilt.

They’re similar in that they both put pieces together.

But they’re also very different. With puzzles, the corners are found and placed first. They provide direction and structure. With quilts, the corners are quilted last. Quilting starts in the middle and works outward to make sure all the wrinkles in the fabric are smoothed to the outside every step of the way.

We cannot take the exact same approach to everything we do. We must be willing to change as we look at the situation and discern what’s best. We can’t always insist on the easy way, the preferred way, the convenient way, or fastest way, or the most affirming way, although sometimes approaches will overlap as byproducts.

The best approach is always…the best approach.

I’m not just talking about puzzles and quilts. I’m talking about life. Knowing the best requires being willing the humbly look for and listen for the best. It means being willing to try things that are unfamiliar and even uncomfortable at times, listen to people we don’t know well or know well but disagree with, and take one step at a time, knowing that step might take us somewhere productive or might end up being a mistake from which we can learn and grow.

You might not know all the details of the best approach just yet, but you can take one simple step right now. An approach requires movement. Refuse to get stuck. Insist on growing. Take a step.

Approach life well.

To Know The Truth

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the truth in a situation. We have trouble discerning what is our own will and perspective and what is real truth. Our understanding is limited, but we put together pieces we think fit well, only to later discover we forced an inaccurate picture.

An essential question I’ve realized I must ask is,

What is true about God that helps me see the truth in this situation?

When we know the truth about God’s character, promises, and will, we can sift through the details of a situation. We still rarely have the whole picture, but the pieces we have after letting God refine it all are worth missing a few pieces. What we have and rely on is truth, even if we don’t have it in its completion.

But it’s not all up to God. We have to seek and know Him in order to listen and discern well. Without knowing what fits into His character, promises, and will, we have no foundation of what truth is. We have no firm standard. But the better we know God, the better we know truth. And that makes it easier to determine what isn’t truth.

Know God well. Then pause to look at a situation and ask and trust God to sift through and determine what reflects Him and what doesn’t. Then you can proceed with a firm foundation that you can trust.

Because God is always trustworthy.

That’s the truth.

The Burden of Compassion

Compassion comes with a burden.

We don’t always feel the burden. Sometimes our enthusiasm and joy with serving and showing compassion overrides the feelings of burden.

But sometimes we have compassion and feel helpless, because we’re not sure what to do. Perhaps we’re not supposed to do anything in terms of fixing the problem. Showing compassion is sometimes simply sitting alongside and being available.

It still feels helpless at times.

However, we are never helpless in our compassion, because compassion is rooted in God and infused with His help. He is the source of compassion, and He is powerful and wise enough to know how it can and should be fulfilled. We just have to accept the help God gives instead of trying to own and control all the help. We have to yield even when the approach isn’t what we would choose. We need to trust Him.

The burden of compassion is ultimately God’s. He loves people way more than we can even imagine loving people. Plus, He has the power to do something about it. He’s inviting you to help by seeking and trusting Him.

True and False. Oil and Vinegar.

God’s truth cannot be mixed with falsehood.

It’s a bold claim. And I’ve experienced the opposite many times.

God’s truth can be mixed with falsehood.

I’ve see just little lie and a lot of lie gentled tossed with truth and called truth.

Truth is truth, regardless of what it’s mixed with. Lies aren’t strong enough to negate God’s truth. But truth doesn’t seep into and fix the falsehoods either.

Oh, we try to mix them all the time, but if we pay attention, we notice they repel each other. They separate. Like oil and vinegar.

We just keep shaking them together, just hoping we can make them stick.

Why We Blow Things Out of Proportion

ALWAYS!

NEVER!

ALL!

There’s a lot of blowing things out of proportion that goes on around us. And in us. We exaggerate things to make a point. We add a sarcastic tone and rationalize we can say just about anything we want. But the problem is…people are listening. We have influence. We need to be responsible, rational, respectful, and humble people. (And we can still be goofy and have fun!)

Some of the things we say and post might seem witty–and even accurate for our feelings in the moment–but that doesn’t mean we should say it, such as, “I’m not mean. I’m brutally honest. It’s not my fault truth hurts. Here’s a band aid.”

Take some responsibility, and not just for yourself. Take responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions, and consider what impact they’ll have on others, as well as the impact they’ll have on your future self.

When we claim “always,” “never,” or “all,” we box ourselves and others in and out. We draw lines in the sand, and we all know how sand shifts. The more we learn, the less (or more) adamant we might get. The more mature we are, let’s hope we get wiser, and more discerning.

We blow things out of proportion, usually as a result of averages. It’s easier to generalize when we don’t have enough information to and experiences to average an isolated situation across many contexts in order to establish a more accurate perspective. Sometimes all we have is an isolated situation, and it’s a powerful one, and the generalization we make is accurate. But we can at least take the time to discern, then be willing to admit we were wrong when we learn more later.

If you blow things out of proportion in the little, everyday things, even if you convince yourself you’re only joking most of the time, you’re more than likely going to blow the big things out of proportion. At least, that’s the generalization I’m making, looking across a few years of experiences. Maybe you’ll disagree.

After all, we don’t have to always agree. And we don’t have to never agree, either.

When Google Can’t Answer

It doesn’t matter what resources we have to find answers. We still have questions, and we’re surrounded by people who have questions. We might think that we need each other less and less, because all we need to do when we need a piece of advice, solution, or fact is enter a few key words in a search engine and click. We live in a time that gives us an abundant access to information.

Yet, we still need each other.  photo index_zps5b4an4fo.jpg

I use search engines a lot as I’m writing, but I know I have to be careful. I can find any information I want to find…even if it’s false. I need to discern. And many times, I need to involve others to find the best information. I need to ask for help. I know I’m not alone, because I see posts every day on social media–friends asking for ideas for supper, questions to clarify start times and locations of events, and feedback on books, movies, and stores. We could probably find all the information we want, yet our need isn’t just for information. It’s for connection and relationship.

When we reach out to others, we need to be careful. We can’t just reach out to get affirmed, to find the information we most want to receive, to connect for the wrong reasons.

We each search, but we search together. We need to be discerning each step of the way…as we personally question, reach out, and respond to others. People need help with the searching process, because we all have questions.

We don’t have all the answers. God does. Yet He brings us into each others’ lives so that we can search together. We need God. No one else can fill that need, but God weaves our lives with others to fill needs along the process. Only God has the answers to all our questions, but He uses us in each others’ lives to confirm, explore, and debunk. It’s not just our opinions. We can’t guide each other well based solely on what we assume or want to believe. But we can let God guide as we help each other.

People might have access to massive search engines, but they’re not comprehensive. They might contain more information than we have, but they can’t use wisdom to discern. We can only do that when we trust and rely on God.

He is bringing people into your life today who you can help and who can help you. Whether your time together is brief or extended, fully lean into Him. Trust Him to guide you as you ask the right questions and believe the right answers.