This article was written by Mikayla Briggs. Here’s a little bit about her…
Hi! My name is Mikayla Briggs, and I just graduated from Holland Christian High School (Go Maroons!!). I was so blessed to have HC be my home for four years. It was the best place to nurture and develop my faith, and now I can’t wait to live out that faith at Hope College in the fall. I’m majoring in Biology—at least that’s the current plan 🙂 I love expressing myself through dancing and writing short stories, and it’s something that I hope to do more of.
A few days ago I was reading one of my favorite devotional books: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens–Simple Ways to Keep Your Cool in Stressful Times by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. It’s a really incredible book filled with suggestions for teens (but really anyone could benefit from them) on how to handle stress and create a happier life for yourself.
I flipped through the contents, and a particular chapter caught my eye: Develop a Theme for the Day. I decided to read on.
Carlson proceeded to talk about a simple strategy that involved waking up in the morning and developing a virtuous theme to carry out throughout the day. Patience, compassion, forgiveness, listening, gratitude–all were great examples of virtues to practice.
It really is a great method, and depending on the theme you decide, you’ll be surprised to find in how many situations that virtue comes into play. Let me give you an example:
After reading this, I chose to give it a shot. But, all of the virtues seemed so great, so I resolved to let God decide which theme I should practice the next day. That night, I prayed to God.
God, I ask that you choose my theme for tomorrow. You know what will happen in the course of my day, so I ask that, according to your will, you give me a theme that will best equip me for the challenges of tomorrow. I trust you. Now, I put it in your capable, loving hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
That night, I had a dream.
I was at work, and had a customer who was basically trying to buy the entire store. As a cashier, these are very stressful moments to deal with! Yet, the woman paying seemed very kind and did not try to rush me. I was nervous, and tried to complete the job quickly and efficiently. The woman continued to be kind and patient, and I continued to feel rushed and nervous. And as the dream progressed, I realized that she wasn’t rushing me–I was rushing myself. Even though the items continued to pile up on the counter, she was completely content.
Upon waking up, I knew what God wanted my theme to be: patience. I smiled to myself. God came through, as He always does. I couldn’t wait to live out that theme for the day. Now I actually had to get ready for work.
Work was great. I did not expect it to be that active, but it was packed! We were busy most of the day, running around, meeting the needs of all our customers.
Tired and ready to go home, it was 4:50, and ten minutes before closing. The store was still pretty packed, and most of the chores on the closing list hadn’t even been started, so I knew it would be awhile before I could leave. I was wondering how we could find the time to complete the closing chores and be out by 5:15 while it was so hectic. But, it didn’t look like it would happen.
Finally, things started to slow down, and I was still up at the front counter while my coworkers began chores on the closing list. Then, the store was empty. It was five minutes before closing. I was about to help my coworkers with closing when a man walked in, so I had to stay at the front counter until he left the store. He seemed very kind, and began to ask me all sorts of questions with a smile on his face.
“Do you have ice cream?”
“Who makes the ice cream?”
“When do your blueberries come in?” “Are these cherries yours?”
“How much are they?”
“Are these your blueberries?”
(I work at a blueberry farm:)
It was strange, though. My inward impatience had grown right up until the moment when he walked into the store. Then suddenly, I remembered the theme that God had given me that morning, and instantly became more calm. I answered his questions with a smile on my face and a newfound patience that wasn’t there before. While everyone else in the store raced around and tried to get things done, I was completely calm, and happier than I had felt all day.
An undeniable sense of peace enveloped me while speaking to this man, and there was no doubt that God was there with me. The man stayed until closing, and was then on his way. We continued to close the store, and left at around 5:20. Only a few more minutes out of my life 🙂
This experience taught me a few different, important lessons:
1) The power of prayer is great. This is just one of countless occasions where I can say that God answered my prayers. When you genuinely pray with the passionate desire to bring God’s Kingdom on earth, I can promise you that He will come through. Yet, you have to patient, because your prayer might not be answered in the way that you would expect. But, it’s all in accordance to His perfect will…which brings me to my next point 🙂
2) Trust God always. He has your best interests in mind all the time! If you trust in His perfection, goodness and grace, you will be much happier. There will be a colossal weight instantaneously lifted from your fragile shoulders when you bring it to God. And it feels so impossibly good 🙂 That strong faith in God brings the most indescribable joy.
3) Create a theme for yourself everyday. I found this to be a great way to accomplish my goal. If you’re the kind of person with a passionate desire to be like Jesus, you know that it is the most rewarding journey–and the most difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it is totally worth it! But, Jesus is perfect. And that’s a lot to live up to. I find that I get down on myself a lot when I don’t perfectly live up to His expectations for my life, and as you can imagine, that happens a lot!
Imagine waking up in the morning and telling yourself that you will be selfless, compassionate, forgiving, patient, kind, optimistic, grateful, joyful, good, understanding AND thoughtful. That’s a lot to perfect in one day. This method taught me to not be so hard on myself, and reinforced the idea in my mind that God knows we’re not perfect. We are trying to be like The One who is flawless, but we will fail a lot along the way, and God understands that. Just take it one virtue at a time 🙂
4) God is good, and always comes through. This goes back to #2, but God is totally and 100% trustworthy. It’s amazing what can happen when you put everything you have into His hands. The results, you’ll find, are amazing.