Imagine for a moment, that you are going through your closet and find a piece of clothing you haven’t worn in a while. You begin by looking at it and imagine the good times you had with it on. You decide that you want to have a good day, so you try that piece of clothing on and uh oh…it doesn’t fit any longer. You suck in your gut…no good…it still doesn’t fit. After 10 minutes asking yourself question after question you convince yourself the piece of clothing must have shrunk over time. Then it hits you. The clothing didn’t shrink…you grew… and not the way you wanted to. OUCH!
Children have their ouch moment also. They are happily playing or riding their bicycle, when WHAM!… they fall down and scrape their knee and elbow. As a loving parent, you run over to them, pick them up and tell them that their alright as they scream/cry, “IT HURTS…” You comfort them and bring them inside so that you can clean up their wounds. You sit them on a chair, break out the ointment and Band-Aids. They see this and scream, “DON’T TOUCH ME! IT STILL HURTS!” You know that their wounds need to be cleaned, so you carefully and lovingly begin to clean their wounds as they scream, “OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! YOU’RE HURTING ME!”
We all have our OUCH moments. We all have times where we are shocked by our circumstances. We are shocked that we’ve gained weight. OUCH! We are shocked that we are in debt and are having a hard time getting out of it. OUCH! We are shocked that our relationships aren’t working out the way we expected them to. OUCH! What is your OUCH moment?
As time goes on and we have these moments more and more, we begin to start asking ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Does God hate me?” or “Why can’t my circumstances change?” We begin to wonder if everyone is out to get us or if this world has nothing good in it. As we question, we begin to become anxious. Our anxiety turns into anger and our anger turns into regret. If only we had done this or that in our past. If only we had not said in anger the things we said to the ones we lost. If only we hadn’t done this or that. If only. If only.
If only becomes the chant of regret. Regret becomes the feeling of sadness and sadness becomes depression. And once we’re depressed, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves, convincing ourselves that we don’t need anyone and no one needs us. In the end, we become lonely, heartbroken and hurt-filled people. All of this begins with how we handle the OUCH moment when it comes.
Yesterday, I had an OUCH moment. I wanted to get a new suit jacket as my old ones appear to be “shrinking”. As I was in the store, I couldn’t find any jacket that fit. Even the size I thought I was didn’t seem to fit properly. I then, might I say reluctantly, picked up the next larger size and tried it on. Unfortunately, it fit. Now I could have blamed all of the clothing manufacturers for improperly manufacturing every single jacket, but the OUCH moment hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t the jacket that that was shrinking, I was just getting larger.
How do we handle the OUCH moments? We could stew in the thought process which leads to regret and depression. We could get angry or disappointed in ourselves and vow to change. We could reach out to our friends and family for support and ask them what they think we should do. We could cry and scream to God, asking Him why He is allowing this to happen. But no matter how we think we would handle it, there is one thing that remains…this is our turning point.
When our OUCH moments happen, our turning point begins. What is a turning point? Well according to the dictionary, a turning point is a moment in time at which a decisive change in a specific situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results. It is the place where we are, desiring for a change, while looking at the place we need to be. But how do we get there? How do we proceed so that the results we desire are the results we receive? What if I told you that giving up was your answer to the OUCH moments?
I am not talking about not changing. On the contrary. I am talking about changing during the process of giving up. Notice I said, ‘during the process of’. Giving up does not mean you don’t do anything. Giving up simply means not bogging your mind down with needless worry and anxiety over situations you may or may not have the power to change. The giving up process allows our OUCH moments to become more like praise moments. In fact, giving up was exactly what Jesus asked his disciples to do.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’” – Matthew 16-24-25 (NIV)
First, Jesus said if we want to be his disciples, we must first deny ourselves. What exactly does that mean? The word deny here implies that we give up our own interests and goals for someone else’s interest and goals. We no longer live for ourselves, but for someone else.
Second, Jesus tells his disciples that if they want to have life, they will only find it if it is lost because of Him. This one is a bit more interesting. Literally speaking, Jesus tells his disciples that whoever wants to save their life (live for themselves) will lose it. The word for lose here is to be completely destroyed. Think about that. Jesus tells them, if you want to live for yourself, your life will be completely destroyed. OUCH!
This message is completely contrary to what we are being taught in our society. Our society says:
- If you want to live a good life, have a positive mental attitude.
- To change your body, you must think positively.
- As you live your life, go for it! Only you can change you.
- The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new (Socrates).
If we were to change these sayings to reflect what Jesus told His disciples here is how it may read:
- If you want to live a good life, live for Me.
- Don’t worry about changing your body, rather transform your mind.
- As you live your life, follow Me! Only I can change you.
- The secret of change is to focus all of your energy on Me.
Do you see the difference? Our society says, “It’s all about you.”, while Jesus said, “It’s all about Me.”
To combat the negative feelings of our OUCH moments, the only thing we need to do is focus on Jesus Christ, His goals and desires and do what He has called us to do. So what has Jesus called us to do?
First, He has called us to tell others about Him and what He has done for them. In Matthew 28, Jesus first says, “Go and make disciples of all nations….” Jesus wants us to share our lives with others focusing on sharing the Gospel. It doesn’t matter if someone’s life changes from the worst to the best, if they don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. You could have lived the most positive life on this earth but if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, when this life ends and the next life begins, your life will be completely destroyed. However, if you have that relationship with Jesus Christ and you focus your complete energy on sharing His message of salvation, then it matters not if people see your life as a failure. What matters is that Jesus Christ sees you as His child. When our focus in on ourselves, our lives will be completely destroyed. When our focus is on Jesus Christ, our lives will be found.
Second, Jesus calls us to live a life that is different than everyone else’s. Matthew 5 is typically called “The Beatitudes”. It is the sermon Jesus spoke to help us live life differently than the rest of the world. Jesus talks how we need to be like salt and light. We need to shine His light and speak His tasty Word. He speaks about how marriage is between one man and one woman, how God has joined them together and how God hates divorce, even though it was allowed. He speaks on how if we look at someone with lust-filled eyes, we have committed adultery with them in our hearts. Jesus confronted society’s allowances and ideals and tells us to life differently. When we focus our lives on Him, we will live our lives differently than the rest of society.
Lastly, Jesus calls us to server others, even if they don’t appreciate us.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)
”…and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave (servant) of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:44 (NASB)
As we serve others, it won’t all be peaches and cream. There will be times, we are serving someone in some capacity only to gain their wrath of hatred and distain. We will do everything right, yet the reaction of those we serve may be anger, hate-filled words or even physical attack. This is where our OUCH moment becomes our praise moment.
When we focus all of our energy on Jesus Christ and His message, we no longer care about our life and its problems. We praise Him even when life is difficult. We praise Him even when others come against us. We praise Him when we feel lonely. We praise Him when we feel lost in the dark. We praise Him because we love to praise Him. Our OUCH moments can easily turn into PRAISE moments. All we have to do is simply change our focus on us and place it on Him. When we do that, our supernatural reaction is to praise Him.
Don’t allow your OUCH moments to bring you to a place of rejection, despair and depression. Allow your OUCH moments to be praise moments. If you gained weight and are saddened by it, then praise Him for giving you a healthy life. If you are upset that someone lied about you, praise Him for knowing the truth about who you are. If you are depressed because life seems against you, praise Him for giving you this life and ask Him how you can help others see His light. Turn your OUCH moments into PRAISE moments and when you do, life will become more joyous than you can ever imagine.
God bless and encourage someone today.