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Posts Tagged ‘Joy’

Apparently my previous post was a little too sobering for anyone to read/like/comment on – which is fine – I am still glad I pushed away my fear of confrontation enough to bring it up. It’s what so many introverts/writers struggle with, isn’t it? That fear someone is going to attack you for your beliefs, standards, work, you-name-it.

Anyway, that actually isn’t what I’m writing about today. The day before yesterday I had an epiphany. Well, okay, maybe not an epiphany, but God talked to me about some stuff that has [hopefully] helped with  . . . well, me.  As anyone who has been reading my posts know, I started a new schedule in January (as I do basically every year of my life) to ensure I had time to work out and write and still have a little bit of an evening – it involved getting up at 5:00 AM. I have been having an awful time with it.

My body has been refusing to adjust to this new time frame. I can barely make myself go to bed early as I internally argue that I am a night owl, and it is ridiculous to go to bed at 9 or 9:30, and that is like when the peak of my energy often happens. Which results in little sleep as I very crankily rise at 5:00, and rush through calisthenics/stretches, getting dressed, doing my hair, putting on makeup, finishing assembling my stuff, and rush out the door to beat HOV hours, grabbing lunch and breakfast on the way and feeling generally very disorganized and extremely upset that I have to do this. I usually calm down around 6:15 as I sit down in Starbucks to do my devotions, have a fairly good day, and become cranky again around late afternoon as I realize I have to do it all again the next day.

I felt like I was SERIOUSLY living for weekends, and told myself over and over again I could get sleep then and that that is when I could live, and around Saturday evening, inevitably becoming depressed that the rush and lack of sleep would start again in less than 48 hours. And then thinking ahead to when the next vacation/day off might be that I could be on a “normal” schedule for a day or so.

It hit a peak on Wednesday. Having gotten started on calisthenics about 5 minutes too late, I didn’t have time to even do makeup, and as I walked out, I looked at Daniel and said, “I can’t keep doing this.” I knew I had to figure out something that wouldn’t make me dread every day of every week.

As I sat down to devotions about 25 minutes later, I had a hard time concentrating, the frustrations still welling up inside me overwhelmingly and the obvious suddenly occurred to me – this was NOT temporary. Not if I planned to remain in this job, keep early hours, and wanted to work out and write. I would be doing this for the foreseeable future, and my heart sank like a rock. I just couldn’t. I rather distractedly finished devotions and went to work halfheartedly.

Now, my work has a wellness program – you get points that translate to money if you do things that they consider good for you. One of those things is watching weekly short videos on how to improve your health and your life in general. I began this week’s video as I scanned my e-mails and thought about how I didn’t want to work – and that is when God decided to use a secular means to hit me with a 2×4. This video has nothing to do with Christian life or ethics, but as I listened to their “pep talk” on being healthier, they asked, “What are your excuses in life? It can be anything that might convince you not to work out or eat healthy.” And that is when it occurred to me. My excuse was that I am a night owl. Therefore I shouldn’t be forced to get up early. I should be able to stay up late all I want. As I reluctantly conceded this internally, they continued, something along the lines of (significantly summarized):

Change is not fun. It is not easy. It takes sacrifice and courage to keep going. If it was easy everyone would do it. What type of attitude/emotional reaction do you have to your challenges? Negative reactions will elicit [insert multiple bad physical reactions]. But when you look at something as a challenge instead of an obstacle, you have a different reaction – your hormones rise to the challenge and seek to overtake it. So instead of letting excuses and negative emotions get in your way, look at it as a challenge and rise to meet that challenge.

It was a lot longer than that, obviously, but that was the essence of it. And as they talked, I recalled the verses I am currently memorizing in Philippians 4. Whatsoever things are [honest, true, just, lovely, of good report] . . . think on these things. And I realized that the same thing they were trying to teach – that you should look at challenges in life as a positive instead of as obstacles to get frustrated with – was essentially what God teaches us to do as well. In the same chapter we are instructed to be content in any state of life. So at that moment, I decided to change my thought pattern. I would view my weight loss, writing, and working goals as challenges to achieve –  challenges I would have to work hard for, sacrifice for, and in general act like one of those heroes and heroines I love so much from books who always (somehow in a few paragraphs or pages!) overcome physical difficulties through sacrifice and striving.

I recalculated and realized I would only need to rise 15 minutes earlier (yes, 4:45 AM) to still accomplish all I wanted to, get  home in a timely manner, and not be rushed. So, VERY long story shortened-a-tiny-bit, I have implemented that, along with a more joyful attitude, since Thursday morning (yay! Two days!) and what an incredible difference it has made already. While it is has been difficult to go to sleep early because my body is so used to later hours, I haven’t been chafing inside at the need to do so, and, it is probably partially God’s strength, but getting up at that insanely early hour really hasn’t been bad. I’ve even been cheerful. And I have the appropriate amount of time I need to accomplish everything I need. And when I start to feel that familiar dread, I remind myself that it is a challenge I am trying to overcome, not an obstacle.

Now, I totally realize it has been all of 2 days and next week I could be right back where I was before – but I pray I am not. I pray I take this to heart, because I am pretty sure God is firm on having a good attitude, no matter the situation, and especially when you are trying to be wise with your time and health. Being happy or unhappy is a choice. My choice. And I choose joy.

Joy

 

 

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I feel like I write these type of posts a lot, so if you still read them, either I am not alone in the world of figuring oneself out or you are really bored.

All of you who have been around awhile or read previous posts know that I am the type to constantly push myself. I always have a goal I am reaching for and always trying to arrange my life around those goals, working towards it. I think I’ve talked a few times before about discouragement and trying to figure out precisely what I want and all that. Well, one thing I don’t think I’ve really mentioned is my constant struggle for joy. Not to say I have been unhappy – I am quite happy- but you know that settled feeling in your soul that just says you are at peace, even if you are striving toward something? I haven’t had that except once in a great while in a very long time, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.

I have, relatively speaking, a perfect life. It hasn’t always been this way, as anyone who knows my past can attest to – and some people see my life now and tell me that I deserve it after all I’ve been through – I know better than that. I deserve nothing and am therefore grateful that for some reason God has seen fit to give me such a good life right now. I am also under no misconceptions that it will last forever. Why, then, do I have such difficulty settling and enjoying this current life instead of constantly looking and striving forward as though I’m waiting for something more before I can really enjoy the life I’ve been given?

I worked between 10 and 14 hours every day Sunday – Tuesday this week on an exercise down in Florida. Consequently, I was able to take most of Wednesday to relax on the beach before working another 12 hour day on Thursday. I found myself looking out over the ocean in a contemplative mood on the very subject I mentioned above. So, I decided to go for a walk and talk it out with God. This time, however, I decided not to just concentrate on the writing aspect or the job aspect or whatever other aspect – I decided it was time to go through my life in detail with God to ferret out the reason for my inability to be joyful instead of impatient in my current status of life.

As tempting as it is, I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of the conversation – it was very minutia oriented, which, after all, turned out to be what I needed. God and I discussed what I thought I wanted out of life vs. what God wants out of my life, and then we talked through my writing life and whether I had the right point of view on it, my current job, why I wanted to go into Counterintelligence, and if I actually wanted to go into it, or if I just wanted the glory of saying I was a CI analyst, and where I was right now in life vs. where I thought I wanted to be.

Below are what I feel the conclusions of the conversation were:

  1. God may have a different plan for my life than I think He does and my being stuck on a certain career path could inhibit what He wants to do in my life. Though it is good to have goals in life, the issue comes in when you insist on those goals remaining the same.
  2. My thinking I cannot have a writing career unless I concentrate on it full-time is a product of fear and procrastination and assumes God cannot give me the capacity for more than one task at a time.
  3. It is possible – not for sure, but possible – that God gave me the desire to go into CI precisely to get me where I am today. I love my job, my company, my coworkers, and my job location – why am I so eager to move on? What happens if I concentrate on doing the best I can with where God currently has me instead of not giving it my all because I think it won’t get me where I think I want to go? God can use me in this current capacity and if I assume this isn’t where I need to be, I may miss what else He has planned for me.

Ultimately, and it can be difficult to put into words, but ultimately: Instead of striving forward constantly, I am making a goal to be happy where I am. I still have goals, but realize that God may have different goals for me. I am going to enjoy my current life and not feel guilty every time I am spending time with my husband instead of writing or feeling guilty for not working on writing an article because I don’t feel like it or not working on something CI related because I don’t want to. I am going to strive to be the best in my current capacity (which is, after all, a Senior Analyst, which is a huge part of what I wanted out of my career) and assume that, as He always does, God will clearly open a door when it is time for me to move on to something else He has planned for me. I am going to continue writing on a regular basis, but not feel guilty when I don’t have time for it because I am taking joy in the life God has currently granted me. I am going to assume that God will allow me to be published in His perfect timing, not mine.

Implementing the pattern of thought that it is not a sin for me to not constantly be doing something educational or working toward one of my goals has already done an incredible part in putting my heart at peace. Despite being sick, I enjoyed a very relaxing weekend at home with my husband, and read two books, without any guilty thoughts on needing to write or needing to practice Russian. I healed significantly faster than usual from my cold and did not wake up today with the thought that I didn’t want to go to work.

I want to be clear that I still think it is good and healthy to have goals you strive toward. The secret I am learning, with God’s help, is being at peace and joyful where you are while you work toward them, and being flexible enough to realize that God may direct those goals elsewhere and, for God, there is no time limit. He’ll bring you there when He knows you are ready.

We so often concentrate on the trials aspect of Philippians 4 and being content. For some of us, it is in times of plenty that we get lost.

Philippians 4:6-7, 12-13

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. . .  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

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