The Good Life

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The Good Life.

What images do those words bring to your mind?

For me, I picture my camp chair in a mountain valley, a campfire circle, warm mittens and a thermos of coffee.

Or maybe it would be sitting in the warm sunshine around a farm table in Italy, covered with ceramic flasks of wine and platters of cheese and bread.

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I also imagine a bright blue chair on the deck of a cruise ship or a beach lounger in the sand, an umbrella drink, a sun hat and a book.

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@sarabethjones

 

So last Saturday morning, when I gathered with my gals for Bible study and the topic heading was, What is the good life?, I have to say that I felt a little something clench up inside of me.

A swirl of thoughts began,

I don’t want to give up my own image of what the good life is.   And I know this woman on this video is about to tell me that the good life is not the world’s picture of the good life but that the good life is something else.  It’s reading my Bible and being nicer to my husband and probably giving up this cup of coffee I have right here in my hands.

I have to tell you that I was all set to be kind of closed off to what this woman was about to teach us.  I had spent the first two videos fixated on the height of her heels and the condescending fill-in-the-blank portions of my book.

Whose idea was it to do this video study?  I like it better when we have more time to share with each other.  We have new people in our group this fall that I am not even going to get to know because we spend so much time listening to this woman who does not even know us.

I don’t have much to say for myself about my bad attitude.  You don’t want to live inside my head because it is ugly in there.

I’ve been through a lot of Bible studies friends.

I started early, moving to the more serious studies at a young age because I could no longer handle the fluff of the teen studies.  Sadly for us preacher’s kids (and wives), sometimes more study doesn’t translate into more growth, but instead only into more self-righteousness.  I have been on this road I call my faith journey for long enough that I know I don’t really want that to be me.  Deep down, I really do long to be always growing, always changing, always becoming.

So sometimes I can stop myself mid-mental critique long enough to hear the Spirit say,

Deep breath, honey.  There is something for you here.  Maybe even something new. Just. Listen.

I am so grateful for that voice.

I have been spinning a few days now in the words of James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you?

Let him show it by his good life

What is the good life?

One that saves you from yourself.

Myself? You mean this voice inside my head that is always critiquing? Always biting? The one that I wish I could get away from?

What is the good life?

One that is marked by a willingness to yield.

Give up.  Let go.

Instead of Just Do It?  Or Go For It?  Or Look At Me!

I think the good life might be to actually do less instead of more.  Could that actually be true?  Because what I’m thinking is that this posture is similar to the one you might take in a lounge chair.

What is the good life?

One that is full of mercy.

A quote from this section: Mercy morphs into depression when we take God’s responsibility instead of our possibility.

This was key to me, because I am easily depressed and overwhelmed.  A good life full of mercy is all about being open to what God has for me today.  Who is in my path today?  Can I show them mercy today?  Can I meet their needs?  If I can’t, can I give the gift of dignity, of conversation?

What is the good life?

One that is full of good fruit.

I’ll be honest.  I don’t have any notes on this part because I was still busy writing down thoughts about being full of mercy.  But I’m pretty sure the fruit from the vine trickles down from the first three points and into my glass on that Italian farm table.

What I mean is that my original ideas about what the good life looks like are not necessarily contradictory with James’ ideas.  However if James’ version doesn’t somehow infiltrate my version, then I’m deluded in my thinking that I have a lock on the good life.

I’m still working this all out in my heart and I am more than happy for you to share your thoughts as well.

All quoted thoughts in this post have been lifted from the video and study guide Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore.

Dear Lord, I have to confess:

At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged, white, Southern housewife, I think Beth Moore might be changing my life.

Did I just say that out loud?

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