May 22: Say when the price is too high

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
— Henry David Thoreau

Consider the young man who was doing great in his high school studies, then suddenly started to fall behind. One day, a teacher pulled the young man aside and asked him what happened. The student told him that he had asked his father for a car, and the father told him that if he earned the money, he could have one. The student, being industrious and hard working, went out, got a job, saved the money, and bought the car. But then the car needed insurance, gas, and maintenance, so the student kept the job to keep up the car. The job took up more and more of his time, until finally he began to fall behind in his studies.

“Why don’t you just get rid of the car?” asked the teacher.

“Get rid of the car?” came the reply, “but how would I get to my job?”

How often we feel that if we just get that new car, that new boyfriend or girlfriend, that promotion, or the condo in the good neighborhood, we will find happiness and contentment —only to discover that the thing just brings with it more pain, more costs, and more bother than it’s worth. The new sports car runs only half the time, the new partner needs more care than your dog, the promotion eats up your weekends, and the new condo won’t allow pets.

Things don’t bring true happiness. Instead, they often sap your strength and leave you emptier than you were before. Think about the true cost of a thing before you pursue it—in time, lifestyle changes, energy, maintenance, and money. Can you really afford the amount of life that the thing will take from you in return for the happiness it brings? Are you willing to pay the price?

God, help me be aware of the true cost of the things in my life.

Getting Needs Met: May 21

I want to change careers…. I need a friend…. I’m ready to be in a relationship….

Regularly, we become aware of new needs. We may need to change our behavior with our children. We may need a new couch, love and nurturing, a dollar, or help.

Do not be afraid to recognize a want or need. The birth of a want or need, the temporary frustration from acknowledging a need before it’s met, is the start of the cycle of receiving what we want. We follow this by letting go, then receiving that which we want and need. Identifying our needs is preparation for good things to come.

Acknowledging our needs means we are being prepared and drawn to that which will meet them. We can have faith to stand in that place in between.

Today, I will let go of my belief that my needs never get met. I will acknowledge my wants and needs, then turn them over to my Higher Power. My Higher Power cares, sometimes about the silliest little things, if I do. My wants and needs are not an accident. God created me, and all my desires.

May 20

There are so many rip-off artists and scams in the world. There’s so much that disappoints us. We get excited about someone or something, then we check it out and find it’s not what everyone says it is. Sometimes negative thinking is easier and more realistic.

Sometimes I get so busy that I do what I call lazy thinking. I ignore little warning signs, things that make my gut go click. Or I rely on my assumptions because it takes less work, rather than checking things out for myself.

Yes, sometimes we’re disappointed. Sometimes the price to pay for staying aware is we discover something that hurts our feelings or disappoints us. But every once in a while, something or someone comes along that’s a pleasant and rewarding surprise.

Challenge: The hardest thing about staying open is that it requires constant, diligent effort and work.

MAY 19: Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

Don’t be so afraid of making a mistake. That energy can create more mistakes. It can stop us from enjoying what we’re doing. It can block us from creating freely and making something beautiful.

Sometimes it’s necessary and important to make mistakes, to fumble around and do something poorly so we can learn to do it better next time. No matter what we’re doing or what we’re learning, we have to start somewhere. Look back at the past. We learned by trying, stumbling, falling, getting back up, and trying again. But we wouldn’t be where we’re at if we hadn’t begun where we were.

Jump in, begin, and do the task as best as you can. Stop worrying about mistakes, and let yourself do it as well as you can right now. If you do it wrong or poorly, you can do it over again. And when you do it in an attitude of love, you won’t fail. You’ll learn something new about yourself, life, and the task.

Love yourself enough to try. Let yourself make mistakes. Tell yourself you don’t have to do it perfectly. Let yourself have fun while you’re learning. Start where you are, and do what you can. Learning and getting better will happen from there.

You may not always know the best way in
the beginning, but if you keep trying, you’ll
quickly learn to tell when you’re on track.

May 18: Use your creativity in saying when

Grace was the single parent of a seventeen-year-old son—Shawn. Shawn was charismatic, powerful, strong-willed, intelligent, and chemically dependent.

Grace loved Shawn deeply. But she also felt trapped by his rebellious teenage years, coupled with his drug and alcohol usage. Shawn had been through treatment once, did well for a while, then had relapsed. Shawn had a driver’s license and a car. In his sober times, Shawn handled the responsibility of the car well. And the agreement was, if Shawn relapsed, he would relinquish the keys.

The problem with chemical dependency is that denial and lying go hand in hand with the disease. When Shawn began using again, he also began lying to his mother. It didn’t take long for Grace to see and understand what was going on. She knew what her boundary was. Take away the car.

Grace was clear about what she could and couldn’t do. She couldn’t make Shawn stay sober, but she could refuse to allow him to drive.

Grace took action. She grabbed a screwdriver, went outside, removed both license plates from Shawn’s car, and drove directly to the post office. She then mailed the license plates to a friend of the family and asked that friend to keep the plates until Shawn sobered up.

Shawn knew a boundary had just been clearly set. Six months later, when his plates were returned to him, he was sober and ready to respect the responsibility involved with driving an automobile.

Sometimes, it’s not enough just to say when. We need to get creative in how we say it, too.

God, help me know that you will always be there to guide me in setting limits, when it is my responsibility and in my best interests to enforce a particular boundary.

Boundaries: May 17

Sometimes, life and people seem to push and push. Because we are so used to pain, we may tell ourselves it doesn’t hurt. Because we are so used to people controlling and manipulating us, we may tell ourselves there is something wrong with us.

There’s nothing wrong with us. Life is pushing and hurting to get our attention. Sometimes, the pain and pushing are pointing toward a lesson. The lesson may be that we’ve become too controlling. Or maybe we’re being pushed to own our power to take care of ourselves. The issue is boundaries.

If something or somebody is pushing us to our limits, that’s exactly what’s happening: we’re being pushed to our limits. We can be grateful for the lesson that’s here to help us explore and set our boundaries.

Today, I will give myself permission to set the limits I want and need to set in my life.

May 16

Whenever we start thinking we’ve seen, heard, or done it all, we can be assured we haven’t. Something new is just around the corner.

Application: Whenever lazy thinking kicks in, whenever we find ourselves spouting judgments about something before we’ve checked it out, whenever we start relying on assumptions and not paying attention to what we see, hear, and feel, it may be time to open our mind.