A FREE SPIRIT
Well, let’s think a little bit about the pathway to living a relaxed, comfortable life; really freedom. Everybody’s interested in freedom. I want to be free; I want to do my own thing. Well, I’d like to just talk about that a little bit. I think of this gentleman that came to see me one time. He was kind of mad at his wife, and one of the reasons he gave me was this. He said, “I just hate to come home from work because I know perfectly well that if I turn into the driveway, and if my wife got there ahead of me, she’s going to have her car parked smack in the middle of that carport. And I’ve said to her time and time again, ‘Jane, won’t you please either park your car to the left or to the right of that carport? We’ve got two cars, and they both ought to be in that carport.’ But no, if she comes home ahead of me, that car is parked right in the middle of that carport, and she just makes me so mad.”
That’s what he said. So he’s always got a decision to make if his wife came home first. Either he’s going to let his car parked in the driveway, or he’s got to dig out his key and back her car up, and move it over, and back his in; and according to him, you see, his serenity, and his peace of mind and his joy depends upon a choice that his wife makes. Would you buy that? Is that right?
Now, I was talking to a lady and she was telling me about a discovery that she made that really startled her. She was down on her husband. Now remember the other night, I was saying, that if you’re going to be a contented person, you need to be happily aware of the whole person that you have to deal with. And by the whole person, when you think of anybody that you know, think of the person you like the best. That person has qualities and strong points and good points and some faults, right? Everybody is like that, and so we need to be happily aware of the whole person.
We don’t have any problem with people’s strengths, do we? Now that man that I was telling you about, you see, was at the mercy of his wife’s choices. He was unhappily aware of the fact that she knew what he wanted and wouldn’t do it. Now when you know somebody won’t do something that’s important to you, you see, there’s a choice to make there, isn’t there? You can resent that person, you can become bitter, you can dwell on the fact that there is some little old thing that this person isn’t doing that you want them to do, and it can ruin your relationship.
One lady was telling me this. Her husband was the kind of a fellow who knew what she expected of him in terms of how he dressed; but time and again, they would go somewhere where most of the men would wear a tie, and how does he dress? He comes busting out of the house in a sports shirt, and it just upset her and he’d just soothe her, “Calm down honey, it’s all right.”
He was one of these extroverts; you know one of these hand shaking, back slapping, and “Hey old fella. Hi Everybody!” and he was loud like that, and she was quiet and sort of shy. And you know that just annoyed her for him to act that way, and she got so that she could hardly stand him. Oh, he had such wonderful qualities, but he was loud and a back slapper, and he insisted on wearing sport shirts.
And so, he realized that she was upset, and he decided he was going to do something real nice for her and he said, “Honey, we’re going on a Caribbean cruise.” Now that’s pretty nice. A steamer out on the Caribbean Sea in the moonlight. Doesn’t that sound great? She figured that would be fine all right, and she needed a change. What kind of a situation could you possibly get into that would bring the best out of you than the Caribbean Sea and a steamer in the moonlight?
So there they went on their cruise and the first night he comes busting out of the stateroom in a sport shirt, and she figured he should have worn a neck tie, but he didn’t wear a neck tie, and so they headed up for the place where everybody was out on deck. He was out there, “Hello my friend this is my name!” And there he was the same old hand shaking, back slapping, loud …”did you ever hear this joke, folks?”… that kind of a fellow. And she said, “I discovered something about me. I was my same nasty self in the Caribbean in the moonlight as I was at home.”
You know, a lot of us have found that out, haven’t we? That your inner life doesn’t depend on where you are really. That you can be pretty consistent. I think of a gentleman and his wife that came to see me one time. And here again, you see, you don’t come to see me unless you’re pretty unhappy with life. People don’t make an appointment with a psychologist in order to tell him how well things are going. It’s always the other way around. We usually start with people who would rather not be there in the first place, that’s where we start. They hate to come to see us, and they want to make it as brief as possible. You have to get used to that idea.
Well, now, this lady was explaining some of her antagonism. I say, “What are some of the things that disturb you?” She said, “Well, for instance, there’s the kitchen. The faucet is dripping, and I explained to my husband that I would like him to fix the faucet, and he just doesn’t get around to it. You know we put the children to bed, and we sit down in the living room and everything gets quiet, and what do I hear? Drip, drip, drip, drip, and pretty soon I start tuning my ear in to listen for that drip, and the longer it drips, the madder I get. “Now why won’t he fix that faucet? He tends his lawn. Why, he’s got a perfect lawn, and if he can put that much time into his lawn, why can’t he fix my faucet?”
So I said, “Sir,” this fine gentleman, “Why don’t you fix the faucet?”
He said, “Well I’ll tell you. When my wife irons my shirts I say to my wife, ‘I would like you to put the collar stays in my shirts when you iron them. Now time and time again, it’s morning, you know, and I’m half asleep, and I’m putting on a shirt, no collar stays. That just burns me up. Now why won’t she put collar stays in my shirt? And if she won’t put collar stays in my shirt, I’m not going to fix the faucet.”
Now isn’t that amazing? How much education does it take in order for an individual to be generous and kind, in spite of what the partner does?
I’m thinking of another man whose complaint about his wife is she won’t close anything. I mean if she opens the cupboard door, she won’t close it. If she opens a bureau door, she won’t close it, and they have one of these things in the dining room, you know, where they keep their dishes, and if she opens that door to get something out, she doesn’t close it.
And so, when he comes home from work, he goes through the house closing things, and he’s slamming this one and slamming this one and shoving that one in, and why won’t she close those doors. Well now, she knows what he thinks about open doors, and he’s discovered that he can have a tantrum, he can sulk, he can rant, but she’s not about to close those doors.
Now do you see what I’m pointing out? That if you want to be free, if you want to live an easy going life, you need to find a way of becoming happily aware of the other people in your life which include the strong points and the commendable side of everybody, but everybody’s got that other side, haven’t they?
And often the thing that divides us is that we are so unhappily, so antagonistically aware of the side of a person that is a small side, too. Doesn’t really amount to much, but the presence of another person will reveal your spirit, won’t it? Not cause it, just reveal it. And it’s pretty important that we face up to some of these characteristics about ourselves. Because, mind you what I said now, the presence of another person will reveal your spirit, and how important it is for you to come to grips with the kind of person you are.
Now I don’t very often read out of a book, but I have a friend that wrote a book. He’s a physician, Dr. S. I. McMillian, and he wrote a book called, “One of These Diseases”,and there’s a few paragraphs in here that I’d like to read. He says, “The moment that I start hating a man, I become his slave. I cannot enjoy my work anymore because he even controls my thoughts. My resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body, and I become fatigued after only a few hours of work.”
Have you ever heard people say that? “You make me tired,” and you’re tired because when you become antagonistic and hostile, you find these bodily changes taking place. Your muscles tense up, and that’s hard work to keep your muscles all tensed up like that, and you can wear yourself out sitting in a chair by just being all tensed up, and that’s what he is saying here. “I become fatigued after only a few hours of work and the work I formerly enjoyed is now drudgery.”
You know, I happen to be a business man, and we have some employees, and I’ve observed this happening in my own organization. Well, we may have a waitress who is very happy with her job, and then we happen to hire another waitress that this first one doesn’t like, and it changes her whole outlook. Maybe she just doesn’t like the way the new waitress speaks up, and I’ve seen people quit a job they liked because of the presence of somebody else. You know, just too much stress around that person, and so if you're going to be free and not be a slave to what other people do, you need to be happily aware of the whole person and that included his strong points and that includes his weak points.
Now when that’s not true, he says, “Even vacations cease to give me pleasure anymore.” That's what that lady found out when she took her cruise.
“It may be a luxurious car that I drive along the lake fringed with the optimal beauty of maple and oak and birch and as far as my experience of pleasure is concerned, I might as well be driving a wagon in the mud and the rain. The man I hate hounds me wherever I go. I cannot escape his tyrannical grasp on my mind, and when a waitress serves me porterhouse steak with french fries and asparagus and crisp salad and strawberry shortcake smothered with ice cream, it might as well be stale bread and water. My teeth chew the food and I swallow it, but the man I hate will not permit me to enjoy it.”
Sound familiar? King Solomon must have had a similar experience, for he wrote, “Better a dish of vegetables with love, than the best beef served with hatred.”
“The man I hate may be miles away from my bedroom, but more cruel than any slave driver, he whips my thoughts into such frenzy that my inner spring mattress becomes a rack of torture and the lowliest of servants can sleep, but not me. I really must acknowledge the fact that I am a slave to every man on whom I pour the viles of my wrath.” How true that is.
Now your manner of life is not going to be determined by people and circumstances, it’s going to be revealed by people and circumstances. Now, I want to remind you of a term that I’ve been using. The Apostle Paul used this term in trying to be helpful to his friends the Corinthians and he said to them, “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual people but as unto carnal people.”
Now that’s a word that we ought to become familiar with, and those of us who don’t understand the Bible, that may be a strange word: carnal. And he said that I have to be careful how I treated you because you were carnal. And then in the third verse, he describes what he means. “If there is envying,” that is if you are annoyed and disgruntled and uncomfortable over somebody else’s success and somebody else’s opportunities, and somebody else’s wealth, and you cannot enjoy these people because you envy them. Envy is a part of carnality and strife, wrangling, scrapping, fighting, and disagreeing, if there’s that kind of spirit, and divisions, unresolved issues.
Now those stories that I told you, you see, it reflected people who were like that. Unresolved issues, wrangling, scrapping, fighting, and he also says in Ephesians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.” Now these kinds of responses to life we need to deal with, if we’re going to be effective partners. As I’m saying, the people in your life bring out of you what’s in you.
Now you might say to me, “You make me mad.” Well I can’t make you mad if you're filled with joy. All I can stir up is your joy. If you’re mad, I didn’t put it there, I’m just bringing it out. I’m not putting it in, is that right?
Then he talks about the spiritual man and I think this is important for us to realize that there is such a thing as a spiritual man. A man who has, at his fingertips in his inner life, the resources of God. Now which are you? Carnal or spiritual? What’s carnal? Envious, arguing, quarreling, striving, and there are divisions and unresolved conflicts in your life. Is that your description, or would you be described as a man filled with the Spirit of God, full of love, and joy, and peace, and gentleness, and kindness, and long suffering, and faith, and patience, and temperance? Locate yourself.
I sometimes talk to people and they say, “I’ve tried to contact God. I’ve prayed and wept and He won’t hear me.” I don’t believe it. The Bible says He’ll hear anybody that comes to Him, but let me read you a Bible verse that’s in Isaiah 59:1-2. It says, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, and neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear.”
Now mind you I don’t deny that people cry out to God, and He doesn’t seem to hear. I’m saying that you don’t approach Him on His terms. What is it that separates you from God? You might have tried to contact Him, and it seems like you can’t get in touch with Him. Well listen to this, it is your iniquities that have separated between you and your God, and it is your sins that have hidden His face from you. Not your mother’s sins, not your father’s, not your partner’s, yours.
So, how do you get in touch with God? You see it’s important for us to realize that we don’t get in touch with God in terms of telling Him about somebody else, but in terms of ourselves. You know, Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, and we have gone everyone unto his own way.”
Now you see this was the difficulty with those people that I was telling you about. The man said, “Park your car over here.” The woman said, “No, I’m going to park it here.”
The lady said, “Please wear a tie.” The man said, “I won’t.” The lady said, “Don’t be so loud,” and the man said, “I will.”
The lady said, “Why don’t you fix my faucet?” and he said, “I won’t fix your faucet because you won’t iron my shirts the way I want you to.”
The man says, “Why can’t she close those doors?” She says, “I won’t close those doors.”
You see how true the Bible is? What is the dilemma? What is it that divides people? “All of us like sheep have gone astray” … all of us … “and we have gone every one” … where? … “unto our own way.” Isn't that the sweetest music to anybody’s ears? Let's do it my way.
I’ve often said to myself, “I think so clearly, I don’t understand why my wife doesn’t get it.” What do I mean? Well, I just like my thinking. And this is the dilemma, you see, when we put two or more people together, it becomes a contest, doesn’t it? My way verses your way.
And the rest of the verse says, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And what is the iniquity of us all? It’s that strong, tremendous drive within every man to do what? To do what you want to do. And see, when somebody else has a few little characteristics that don’t suit you, if everything has to be your way, then those little things can ruin your relationship.
One of the most important decisions that anybody has to make is to come face-to-face with the fact that you have to correct this tendency to want your own way, and the verse says all of us have gone our own way and the Lord hath laid on him, on Jesus, the iniquity of us all. What is the iniquity of us all? Why it’s the tendency to go your own way. And the preparation then for marriage, the preparation for an effective partnership with anybody, is to first of all to come to grips with the tendency to go your own way. There’s a lot of hope there because you can do that.
Now this is why you need a Savior. Why? To be saved from yourself. To be saved from having to have your own way, and to be able to be happily related to the whole person in your life which includes his qualities and it includes his liabilities. Why? Because joy is a quality that God will give you. Joy does not depend upon the perfect behavior of one of your friends. Joy does not depend upon the perfect behavior of your partner or your children. Joy is something that comes from God, and that’s why you need a Savior.
And so Jesus said, “Nobody comes to the Father, but by Me.” And He says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. Anybody that will open that door, I will come in unto him, and I will sup with him, and he with Me.” That’s why you need a Savior.
This is why you need to invite Jesus Christ to come into your life, so that it will correct this tendency to have to have it your way. And until that’s correct, any little thing that you don’t like about somebody else can spoil your relationship. And so the best preparation for being an effective, free, individual, free from other people’s choices, is to come to grips with this tendency to have to have it your own way. How do you do that? By confessing that it’s there, by asking God to forgive you, by inviting Jesus Christ to come into your life, and give you the power to be able to correct that tendency. And then, and only then, will you be able to cooperate with somebody else.