Let’s be real. Life hurts. As humans it is one of our common denominators. And it is inevitable. It may happen to us in different ways; divorce, death, a broken heart, grief, loss, lack, low self-esteem, loneliness, sickness, addiction, abandonment, rejection, betrayal….. but sooner or later we experience pain.
And then God speaks.
Turns out He has actually been speaking all the time, but just as writer C.S. Lewis points out:
~God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world ~
I find that pain seems to heighten my ability to hear God speak. Distractions seem not to matter so much. What’s really important in life becomes crystal clear. It’s in these times that I turn to the Psalms. They are a source of comfort, a source of hope, a source to remind me that, “God is my refuge and my strength. A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
We can all think of a time when we wanted to isolate ourselves from the wOrLd. We believe if we didn’t have jobs, we wouldn’t have to deal with stress or deadlines. If we could disconnect ourselves with people—family, friends, strangers—we’d never have to deal with awkward moments or conflict. If we didn’t have to run errands, we could avoid being reminded of how great everyone else “has it” when we are out and about.
As the year of 2012 wrapped up, I found myself thinking a lot about all the awkward, uncomfortable, stressful and difficult moments of the year. And you know what I realized? If I was able to erase those moments of my life, I would have been missing out. If I would have quit my block business after making some stressful mistakes, I would no longer get to experience the J O Y I receive when customers send me thank you notes after their blocks arrive. I could have avoided an awkward moment by not talking to a stranger on a plane, but I would have missed out on an aMaZinG cOnVerSatiOn about his faith journey. Not to mention the moments with friends and family through the year that involved moments of frustration, confusion or discomfort. If I never had those interactions, our relationships wouldn’t be as close as they are today, let alone the sPeCiaL mEmoRieS we made together. And as you know, sharing the move of our house last summer required a major gulp of humility, but I would have missed out on the sense of FREEDOM I felt by sharing my real life…just how it is…and knowing that you accept me…just the way I am.
Wearing your heart on your sleeve, doing things out of your comfort zone (looking for a new job, trying a new hobby, meeting new people), and standing up for what you believe in are all very hard things to do. Many times they don’t even seem worth all the effort they require. But let me assure you, they are. Your life is richer, more meaningful, and above all, impacting more people, all because you are willing to face your fears, deal with hurt, and conquer challenges by moving on despite the outcome.
So what will 2013 look like for you? This year I am welcoming more embarrassing moments, uncomfortable conversations and feelings of defeat as I work toward new goals. You are going to have to deal with these weird feelings/emotions regardless (because we are human!) so why not do them while enriching your life?! I don’t want to MiSs OuT on the best life I can have….do you?
I got up this morning with a mission to help my daughter. As a homework assignment, she was asked to gather pictures of herself which capture her favorite things. As I began skimming through files of photos on my computer, you would have thought I was spending most of my time smiling and reminiscing about the past. To my surprise, recalling those days turned into feelings of discouragement as my role as MOM.
You see, after I had my first daughter, ten years ago, I did a great job taking lots of pictures and getting them into a scrapbook in a timely matter. As life got more hectic and our family grew, I didn’t capture the same moments by photograph with my other two kids—probably because I usually had one kid on my hip and a basket of laundry in the other.
The reality is, life will always be hectic and I CaN’t Do iT ALL. As soon as I had those sunken feelings this morning I could see how this day was going to pan out—feeling guilty ALL day about the numerous things I should be doing better. Like how I should plan meals ahead of time instead of pulling meat from the freezer at 4:59 every afternoon…or logging our monthly expenses in a spreadsheet every month instead of staring at a pile of receipts from the last 5 months. The list is never-ending, isn’t it?
Instead, as soon as my daughter left for school, I shut those feelings down by thinking to myself, “I’m not going there”. I’m not going to spend the entire day beating myself up about my areas of weakness as a mother. To help, I tried to imagine what our seven-month-old would say to me when he becomes an adult. If he knew how terrible I felt for not taking pictures of his sweet feet when he was only a few days old, he would say, “Mom….really? That’s what you’re worried about? It’s not a big deal. Really.” And then he would go on to remind me how I would play tractors with him on the living room floor and spontaneously make him a farmyard out of old oatmeal containers and cereal boxes. Ahh…thank you, my sweet kiddos, for loving me for my imperfect self. And Leanne, make sure you remember this if you become a Mom some day. Don’t be so hard on yourself :)
So if this is you today, pick yourself up and start focusing on the things you do well. You simply can’t do it all. Don’t let special moments (like scanning through years of pictures and reflecting on the past with your kids) pass you by because you are beating yourself up, wishing you’d done better.
From one parent to another, I think you are doing just fine ;)
Years ago when I was living in Tulsa I got an unexpected knock on my door. It was my good friend Cindy. She knew I was going through a really difficult time and so she bought me a slice of a large chocolate chip cookie and asked if I wanted to go for a walk on my favorite bike/run/walk trail along the Arkansas River.
What a simple gesture and yet close to 30 years later I am still touched by the impact of her thoughtfulness. Maybe at the time it seemed like no big deal to her, but it was a big deal to me. A really big deal. And a really big lesson.
To this day her gesture challenges me to search for ways I can give someone a little grace, show a little kindness, and spread a little love. And lest I am tempted to think my kindness is insignificant I remind myself of the power of a cookie and a walk.
I know there are always people needing kindness and a little hope. And so I’m looking for someone I can dispense a little kindness to. How about you? Who do you know who needs a little grace?
Every now and then I find myself focusing way too much on areas of my body that I don’t like. Do you ever do that? Often times it is the skin spots that keep popping up with age or the way my body has changed after having three kids. *Sigh*.
Well today I got an email that included the video I have posted below. Talk about impeccable timing. I am glad God put it on someone’s heart to pass it along, because I needed this reminder. Just in case you needed it too, I decided to share it with you!
This video is an eye-opener in more ways than one. Not only does it make me think twice about nitpicking areas of my physique, but gave me a kick in the pants for when I get down about life or complain about a task being too difficult.
Attitude is everything. Don’t deprive yourself of a good life just because everything isn’t perfect. And I love what Chris says, “If you are worried about how you look, you are cheating yourself out of opportunities.” Needed to hear that. So true.
I hope this touches your heart like it did mine. Enjoy…
Every once in a while Doug and I will catch ourselves wAsTiNg a lot of time rehashing an upsetting incident, discussing something negative, or spending way too much time on something that we shouldn’t. Do you ever do that? Recently, we have done something helpful to avoid these ongoing situations. We “make a pact” with one another to no longer waste another minute on that specific topic. When we catch ourselves in a conversation that makes us feel sour, one of us may say, “Okay…for the rest of the month we need to work on not bringing up_______.” From then on we hold each other accountable by giving “the look” or a quick reminder when conversations head the wrong direction.
Is there something that you are doing, saying or thinking about that you need to nip in the bud? By regurgitating the same negative conversations you are adding unnecessary depression to your day AND to those around you. Doug and I always have to remember…the kids are aLwAys watching and listening!! Whatever we talk a lot about, they will believe!
What conversations can you remove from your life by mAkiNg a pAcT to stop? Don’t forget, with the help of someone else, you can achieve this goal much easier and catch old habits before they creep back in your life!
Do you find yourself in a cHalleNge, trial, or adversity that seems inSurMountAble? Maybe your situation is so overwhelming and confusing you have no clue what to do next. If this describes you, I want to eNcoUrage you with a statement that I heard months ago. The moment I heard it, it grabbed me:
“If you are in it, you can win it!”
There is nothing that you are facing that you can’t oVerCome. Not sure what to do or where to begin? Just take one step – the one directly in front of you regardless how small or insignificant it may seem. Maybe that one step is reaching out for help. Maybe it is trying a different aPproAch. Whatever you do, hang on and don’t let go! You’ll win it if you just don’t quit. :)