“Inviting God’s touch in your soul”
By Bill Gaultiere, Ph.D. © 2010, 2012
“Grin and bear it” we say to force a smile and push ourselves through to the end of a situation that is painful or stressful. But Jesus showed us that life with him in the Kingdom of the Heavens is much better than that horse sense.
To pay for college I worked a lot of different jobs. One was right across the street from my house. Everyone near our home for miles in every direction lived on five acres of land so there was always a lot of work to do. I especially liked working for this particular neighbor because I got to ride his tractor and play with his dog and he always fed me lunch. But the best part was that he paid me $10 an hour – in 1980!
But there was one job he gave me that was awful: shoveling the manure in his horse stables!
I’d put on fishing boots that went all the way up to my thighs, grab the pitchfork, fill up the trailer with hay, back the tractor with trailer into the stable, dump the hay into the stable, grab a shovel and start shoveling into the trailer the hay that was now soaked with urine and filled with manure. I had to stand in horse poop and pee that went up past my ankles! What a stench! What a disgusting place to be! I worked as fast as I could to finish the job, but it took hours and hours.
We all have to shovel manure sometimes. We all have unpleasant jobs to do. We all have to deal with frustrations. But how do we deal with these difficulties? What is our attitude in the trials of life? This is the critical issue for our well-being and our capacity to love God and the people near us.
I’m sad to have to admit that as I shoveled the manure my thoughts ran along these lines:
Gag! I think I’m going to throw up! I can’t even breathe! And my arms are getting so sore. Oh, I hate this job. I hate shoveling horse poop!
Why am I doing this anyway? These aren’t my horses. It’s not worth the money. I am so stupid!
Arghh! This is taking forever. Look, I’m not even half done yet. What’s the matter with me? C’mon, Bill, can’t you work any faster? Get moving! Get this done!
You’re not very strong. If you were in better shape you’d be done by now…
“Grin and bear it” may seen like good horse sense, but it was not truly good advice because it didn’t address my problem thinking. It didn’t just stink inside the horse stable — it stunk inside my head! I wasn’t just knee deep in manure — I was knee deep in depression.
I was muttering complaints and self-criticisms and putting unreasonable pressure on myself to work harder and faster. For many years I engaged in that kind of stinking thinking when I was under stress and it just depressed me. I dealt with my depression by going to church and reading my Bible, but those things didn’t help. Without realizing it I was projecting my negative, depressive thinking into my church and my Bible.
The Weight of Depression
My patterns of stinking thinking and self-criticism depressed me. It was like carrying a heavy, heavy burden around all the time. Maybe you know how it feels to be depressed.
When you’re depressed you lack energy and motivation — it’s hard to get yourself going. You feel sad or empty. You feel bad about yourself. You’re not finding pleasure in things like you used to. The future looks bleak. You can’t concentrate or make decisions.
Worst of all perhaps, you feel far away and don’t know how to connect with God or anyone.
Rejoicing in the Lord Anyway!
As a young man I didn’t know what I have since learned by experience: in an unpleasant situation it is possible to rejoice in God’s Kingdom. If I had known better thirty years ago then I could have looked beyond my putrid circumstances to see with the eye of faith and to appreciate that I wasn’t just standing in manure I was also standing with the risen Christ in his glorious Kingdom!
I could have used Scripture to direct my thoughts in meditation upon God along these lines:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… (Philippians 4:4-5, 11).
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
“Grin and bear it”? No! Rejoice in the Lord and his Kingdom – whatever your circumstances. The Lord is near and he shows us this in our relationships with people who are Christ’s Ambassadors to us (2 Corinthians 5:20). We can participate with God in his work of using life circumstances to form us and those around us more into the glorious image of Jesus.
What a blessing it is when you realize that You Can Live in Jesus’ Easy Yoke – even if you’re knee deep in manure!
“Soul Shepherding is for you and your ministry”
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Bill Gaultiere, PhD & Kristi Gaultiere, PsyD ~ Soul Shepherding ~ Irvine, CA