I went into the summer with the mindset that the next three months were an opportunity for joy. A year ago, my mindset was that nothing was going to make me happy except that Tim quit GloryBound and I get my boyfriend all to myself again. Remembering the misery that loomed over me all summer long, I determined that I would never go back to that again. The odds were against me: there would be a three hour time difference between me and Tim; if anything terrible happened to Tim, it would be practically impossible for me to go to him; I was already in the habit of thinking negatively about GloryBound; and most of the people I sought encouragement from expressed a slight variation of, "You did it once, so you can do it again!"
Through this summer I have learned that there is a key to the inexpressible peace called contentment. It isn't something that happens overnight -- it is a habit, a lifestyle, a minute-by-minute decision. Before I set my foot on the plane to go home, I decided that this summer was going to be different. When you know a hard time is coming, get it in your head that the devil is not going to have his way with you this time. I already regretted every time I said something negative about Tim being on a traveling group, and I did not want any more regrets. You waste your time being discontent, so purpose in your heart that it's not going to happen.
I also knew that, unfortunately, I had already made the habit of reacting negatively to anything that had to do with GloryBound. I did it without thinking! In order to make the coming summer an opportunity for joy, I had to change my thought process. To be content with your circumstances, you must change the way you think about your circumstances. To change the way you think, you must turn your eyes upon Jesus. I found that once I started equating GloryBound with God's plan for Tim instead of Heartland's way of torturing me, I had peace and joy in the midst of my circumstances. I had to stop thinking selfish, jealous thoughts and ask God to help me think about how good this experience was for us, in the long run. I had to make a habit of dismissing the thoughts of Tim being taken away from me, and replacing them with thoughts of how God was preparing him for future ministry.
And the hardest part of all is, get your eyes of off yourself and keep them off of yourself. I knew as soon as the plane took off, the devil would be back to discouraging me with selfish thoughts. The simple truth is, keeping a close walk with God helps tremendously. Having a constant attitude of prayer and thanksgiving keeps you rejoicing over how good God has been to you. Over time, you will build the habit of giving thanks for the simple joys in life, and that joy will overflow into the circumstances of which you once thought resentfully. Another way to deny yourself is to focus on others. If you have a job, work with all your might, as unto the Lord. Encourage your fellow employees. If you don't have a job, you have eight more hours in your day you could be using to help others. Volunteer to clean at your church, become involved in an outreach ministry, or offer to assist a Sunday School teacher.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.