Is your well being and happiness based on circumstances and your expectations of what your life should look like?
As I sit here thinking about the past six months I have to laugh. Never in a million years would I have guessed that my husband would lose his job and my daughter would be sent home from a semester in Italy due to an unexpected virus. There have been other things too that are less than favorable but I have chosen joy despite our circumstances. If I focused on the bad parts I bet I could easily fall into a pit of despair but I put my trust in the Lord and I continually look for and celebrate the blessings. His hand is in all of it. Even the hardships and the disappointments. I remind myself to keep my eyes on Him and not what I see before me. It’s a choice. It’s choosing to overcome the battle of the mind by shutting the negativity down and not inviting it to live inside of me. There are blessings if you are looking but the question you have to ask is what am I looking for? You will find it whatever it is so why not look for the good?
Find joy in spite of it all. Sometimes we have to die to our flesh and expectations before we can see beyond ourselves but I promise the view from this place is a beautiful one if you dare to climb out of yourself and take a look.
How did I not see it? I was retreating further and further into my safe space. The further I could escape from people, the better I felt. It didn’t take long before I was completely isolated and sinking into the depths of depression. I stopped trusting others and I put up a wall of defense so strong that no one would ever be able to hurt me again. I thought all people were alike. I had been tired of being tossed aside like a discarded piece of trash because I didn’t measure up to somebody’s standards. My mantra became, no one will ever have the power to hurt me again.
For as long as I can remember I have been brutally honest and transparent. Somehow that was the very thing that backfired on me time and time again. Instead of support, people would mock me and look down on me. I was done. For years I prayed that God would lead me to a tribe of woman. I needed a safe place to land and people I could trust but where were they? On September 29th, 2018 God answered my prayer. As I stumbled into a fundraiser in Edmond Oklahoma, I witnessed a group of women who were the real deal. Even my daughter said, mom I think this may be the tribe you’ve been looking for. Beautiful Restoration is their name and their love, support and kindness have pulled me out of the depths of despair.
I am here to remind you that God still answers prayers. There are amazing friends out there waiting to meet you and isolation is never the answer. Step out in faith and trust that there is a plan for your life. My life looks so different now than it did 10 months ago. I have hope, confidence and a real excitement about what is still ahead of me. Never give up. Your dream for a better life could be a day away. It’s coming. Wait for it excitedly.
Sometimes I find myself in a state of resistance. There are days that do not turn out the way I planned. Most times I am able to pick up and move on but occasionally I am hit with something that kicks me in my core and I am left fighting against what I will never be able to control. Tonight I lay it down. Tonight I surrender to what is and I choose to believe that although this day did not go as planned, God has a plan better than the one I imagined and has already worked this out. Sometimes I need to lean on my faith and trust that my way is certainly not the only way and I need to allow for different paths that lead to the same destination. Tonight is a reminder to stand strong when the odds seem agains you. If the wind is in your face, turn around and allow it to blow on your back. Everything does work out and there is no need to create a battle in your mind that doesn’t even really exist. Tell yourself there will be a way and lay it down agreeing not to continue to force your way. Resisting does not change your circumstances but it can sure do a number on your ability to hope and find any joy. Lay it down and go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.
For years I have listened and watched as certain voices grew louder and bigger. I sat back quietly as the crowds who disrespected the very things I believed in became like loud, childlike bullies. I thought keeping the peace was best for everyone but now I find myself in crisis because of my silence. I know now that I never have to defend myself because of what or who I believe in. I don’t owe anyone an explanation about what or why I believe something. Yes we have the right to disagree but we do not have the right to disrespect and demean. And if someone does, I do not have to receive it. We have come to a crossroad in time where we must be so grounded that our roots go so deep until we are unshakeable. It’s taken me years to live comfortable in my own skin where I feel safe to use my God given voice to speak His word. I am not I shamed. I am faithful and I will not apologize to people who do not feel the same. One of my favorite quotes is this,
Be You. The world will adjust.
Carry that thought out into your day.
There are some weeks where absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong goes terribly wrong. There is so much comfort in knowing that these short spells do pass and tomorrow offers a brand new day and a clean slate filled with hope and faith. I used to feel panicked when the world crumbled at my feet and I couldn’t figure out to put it back together. Now, I know that even when things don’t seem to go as planned, the unexpected twists and turns lead to a better place. So hold on! Keep the faith and remember that life unfolds the way it should, not always the way we think it should and that’s okay.
Today I knelt down and prayed for some peace. I’ve been living my life all wrong and what better time to start over than this season of lent. I have wasted precious prayers on speeding life up. When my kids were little I wanted them to grow out of certain phases faster. When the day is difficult, I want the week to speed ahead to Friday. When the year is filled with hard and heart broken, I want to jump ahead to the next one leaving the difficult one behind. I rush the moments that I will never get back. Even now, I want the next 8 days to fast forward so I will be sitting on a plane on my way to California for spring break. The truth is we don’t have a special button that will move us through time at our own will. This isn’t our plan. It never was. I have come to the realization that there are mountains we all have to climb. Things we must overcome to lead us to the person we are meant to be. There are no shortcuts, no passes on pain or hard times. We have to learn to find peace in our skin as our hearts experience the unthinkable or our pulse races to a dangerously high pace. More than ever, those are the moments we must strive to find faith and comfort knowing the moment won’t last and a new one is just around the corner waiting for us to arrive. We have to stop fighting and surrender to what is. How do we sit calmly in a place that makes us feel so uncomfortable? How do we stop fighting what is and just relax and let it be? What does it take? Faith? Hope? Confidence?
The next forty days I am going to pray that I find peace in my uncomfortable moments. I pray that I find a way to embrace each and every day regardless of the circumstances. I don’t want to speed the moments up and sit in regret as I look back and wish I enjoyed them more. Every day is precious and each one holds challenges and blessings. Rather than wanting to change my life, I am seeking a way to see it in a new way that will help me experience less of the anxiety and fear that rob me of my peace and the intention to embrace more joy and hope. Perception is the difference in a good and bad day…a good and bad life. Today, I pray for a new perspective on my own life and that even on the darkest days, I will find beauty. Life is too short to miss or rush a single moment. Today I make it my intention to slow down and focus on the things that really matter. I pray for a calm in this storm that is raging inside of me and a renewed hope and faith that I am not alone. I pray for peace inside of myself and throughout the world.
One of the hardest, most painful lessons I have ever been forced to learn is that I do not have control. Ever. I have kicked and screamed and begged and pleaded and still God has not granted me the ability to control a single thing. Not a situation, not a person, nothing. Most things are not in my hands. Life will not go a direction that coddles me softly as I sit in my make believe comfort zone. In fact, I realize that the comfort zone was never even possible. My comfort depends on very specific factors. The fact that everything is constantly changing rips the reality of that zone out from underneath me. Acceptance was the first step. After spending countless precious moments fighting against what was and fighting for something that was just never going to be, I have found a place of calm. Initially, it feels like a place of anxiety and panic but I remind myself as I slow down my breathing that everything will be okay. I have to consciously make the choice to be okay with whatever is, each and everyday. No amount of freaking out on my part will undo my daughters speeding ticket. No amount of screaming and panic will take away the fact that my son got a horrible grade. We just have to live with the things we don’t like that we cannot change. We have to learn to live in that zone that feels uncomfortable like it or not. I say this in several posts as I repeat these words to myself even now. The sky is not falling. I am okay. Life will go on and tomorrow will look like a completely different day. One problem at a time, one fear at a time, one moment at a time. Stop telling yourself it’s the end of the world.
I failed miserably yesterday. Only moments after leaving the house, I let the negativity around me flood my boat. Eventually it sank. Those people that wouldn’t let me over when roads merged into one lane won yesterday. The few people that walk in the middle of the track who evidently don’t know if they belong in the walking or jogging lane did me in. My sons bad test grade, dishes and garbage in the bedrooms, annoying wind, teachers that will never understand all landed me in bed last night with a painful migraine. It’s like I stepped out of the house and screamed,”Here I am! Come at me bro!” So how do we build up our defenses so we are unscathed by the things that really shouldn’t matter? At least not to the point of ruining a perfectly beautiful day. For me, it comes down to being grounded and feeling balanced. As soon as I start feeling like everything’s spinning out of control I clam up and panic. I long for my toes to feel heavy on my yoga mat and feel that connection to Mother Earth. So today, I will try to ground myself so those little imbalances will not loosen the grip of my feet planted firmly underneath me. No more wobbling or weak knees for me. I will stand confident and strong and remind myself the sky is not falling. It really wasn’t that bad of a day. My mind tricked me into believing it was so I lost my way for a second or two. The connection of the body, mind and spirit is truly amazing. We have to know ourselves well enough to know what lane to get in so we can move full speed ahead on the right one that will take us home. When one falters, we have the other two to fall back on. Just get in the right lane and hit cruise. You will survive and tomorrow is another day.
Healing. Every tragic storm is followed by the most beautiful sunrise. It may take days or weeks but eventually the clouds disappear and the warmth of the sun melts the most bitter cold.
I’ve suffered from depression for a few years now. There was a time when I didn’t believe I would ever feel a moments worth of happiness again. In fact, I wasn’t sure I would ever feel anything at all again. The guilt that came along with that swallowed me whole. In my mind, I didn’t think I had anything to be depressed about. My life was good so why didn’t it feel that way to me? Slowly but surely my life has come full circle. I have fought my way back and my heart feels so full today as I sit here in the pickup line at school counting my endless blessings. I am me again and I am so grateful that time has healed the pain that temporarily found a home inside of me.
The most important lesson that came out of this dark time is that I am not in control. I will never be in control and I had to make peace with knowing that is a reality. There will be things I want to change in my life but dwelling on them and resisting something that is just going to be does not change the reality of the circumstances. I had to live in my own uncertainty. I had to find calm in my own discomfort. Anxiety became a normal that I was forced to live with and I learned to breathe there. Sometimes we do not understand what is happening to us but there comes a moment where we trust that in the end, everything really will be okay. In that place I found myself again but even more importantly I found an unshakeable faith that carries me through the happiest and darkest days. My sun is out and I can feel it shining right through me and onto others. I pray the sun comes up for you as well. It is there, I promise but sometimes it is just hidden behind an innocent cloud. Try and feel the warmth until the day you finally see it again. It may not be tomorrow but eventually it will come back out.
If there’s one question I’ve asked over and over lately it’s this one,
Are you there God?
My vision has been off the last couple of months. Where there was once light, there is now a darkness looming, casting a shadow over every thought and poisoning my mood. All that is left is a sense of dread and hopelessness as I watch the news roll out stories of moral destruction. My heart breaks as I watch people rip each other apart and try and destroy fellow human beings right down to their core.
My mom is in town for a visit and she mentioned to me about Revive Us 2016. It was a one night, live event playing in theatres meant to bring people together and lift them up. I was surprised when we walked inside and saw how full the theatre was. As I listened to the speakers, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt something nudge me deep inside. A place that had fallen asleep was passionately waking up. I felt a sense of connection with the others in that room that is hard to explain. We were a group of people with the same concerns and worries looking for some peace and hope. After the event was over, we formed a circle around the theatre and we joined hands in prayer. There was a young girl next to me who was sobbing and I could feel her pain. We all want to feel like we belong. We need to believe that there are others out there just like us longing for a sense of connection and a better way to coexist. We need to feel that sense of tribe that has somehow slipped away when we weren’t looking. I cannot put into words what happened in there tonight but my heart is full. Tonight, I am at peace. As I sat and listened to the various speakers, my heart slowly opened itself back up. God was there in that room, part of our circle, spreading His energy through the hands of the people. The message tonight was clear,
It does not have to be well with our circumstances to be right with our soul.
In these confusing times, we have to follow our own instincts and do what feels right. We have to have the courage to stand up for what we believe. There is no need to explain ourselves or to be ashamed of who we are. I will not judge you and you will not judge me but together we will shine and spread our light. We have to find a way to come together. We have to bring back respect, compassion, truth and love and discard the things that tear us apart.