Hello my dear friends!
It has been too long since I posted an update here…and while I have been writing quite a bit, nothing has made it through a final edit. How does that go…perfection is the enemy of productivity? Yeah, you can quote me on that.
Here is the deal – today, (Tuesday, March 10th), has been a roller coaster of emotions, but at the moment, I am so over-flowing with gratitude, I had to seize the moment and share it with you.
As some of you may know, I was back in the hospital over Valentine’s Day for an infection that lasted about a week. Since then, I am back to the crazy ride that is weening myself off steroids, pain meds, and asking myself the question, “how can I be content with where I am in my life, yet be pursuing the future and all God may have in store?” As someone who tends to over-do-it in whatever I may be doing, (exercise, decorating, cooking, working etc.), I have moments of energy and clarity where I rush forward, only to trip over my own tired self and have to slow it back down.
Perfect example – yesterday I was feeling great! Hubby and I had a spring-cleaning marathon, and the house looks amazing – by our standards at least. Yet, by the end of the night, I was sore, and getting emotional as my meds wore down and my body and mind started to give out. Ed patiently rubbed my back and tucked me in, and I awoke this morning feeling refreshed. I contentedly took my time today, rested, relaxed, proud of my full day yesterday, and enjoying a slow pace. Then, it happened. Duh duh duhn…
I read it on Facebook! Yet another one of my super-awesome friends achieved something super cool and everyone was super impressed and I was reminded what it was like to have a full-time job, 3 volunteer roles, and be constantly praised for my contributions!! Uh oh, the nasty demons of Comparison, along with Pride and Guilt just completed the perfect crime – they robbed me of my Joy.
Now I’m not playing victim here, it was my fault, I gave into the temptation to let myself get jealous and down on myself. I’ve actually been reading and seeing many blogs and posts on the topic of “choosing joy”, or “God’s joy”. But what does that mean? If you’re not feeling the joy, how do you choose it? This has always been an almost impossible task for me. I don’t know how to just switch my brain into the “joyful” position. So, as the info-mercial says, “There’s gotta be a better way!”, and I think I’m figuring it out.
Late in the afternoon, I finally managed to drag myself out to the park – a feat I had been trying to accomplish since after breakfast. I put Pandora on my headphones, first Adele, then Rihanna, and marched out into the sunshine. I was struck not even a block in by the way the sunlight filtered through the palm fronds of my neighbors garden, so I stopped to take a picture. Aligning the frame, waiting for just the perfect sparkle of light, my adrenaline leapt and I smiled to no one.
As I continued, I had a choice between winding through a ritzy neighborhood with lots of flowers and trees, (my usual choice), or turning right towards the smaller homes with the open rec fields. The open land sported soccer nets, a basketball court, small baseball diamond, and swing sets. As long as there wasn’t a pick-up game going on, I could march, hike, and do push-ups out in the sun to my heart,s content! That was the better option, so I headed right.
I spent an hour in the sun, breathing the fresh, humid, air, hiking over the rough edges of the terrain, stopping to do jumping jacks and push ups on the court. My playlist picked my favorite tunes and the beats kept me pushing myself until I finally felt the change in my body from tense to relaxed to exhilarated to exhausted, and as I found myself slowing, I took one last lap towards home. I stretched my gait along the side-walk and smelled the heat rising from the pavement. I felt the hot breeze rustle past me and rattle the palms beyond. A car cruised by, kids called to each other in the distance, and tears began to blur the blue/green scene before me. This was my joy. My time, alone with God, in His beautifully created world, full of people with their own roller-coaster lives, just like me. The mere fact that I could leave the house to experience this, almost overwhelmed my poor little heart. I let a tear fall and didn’t care who was looking – I didn’t even put on my shades to hide it!
It had been almost a year – from December to August that I was too sick, in too much pain, in too much fear of what my body would do from moment to moment to venture far from my bed room….and here I was, strutting and jumping, and sashaying around the great-outdoors like an elf at Christmas. Truly, it is a miracle, it is amazing, it is a gift! And you know what? That is the hardest part.
You see, when other people are getting promoted, publishing books, having kids, or starting a business…I think, wow, they are doing something! In my story, for right now, I’m not doing anything…but God is doing something. I have the most fantastic life, and the freedom to enjoy a season of healing…but this season is not about me, it’s not about my accomplishments, it’s about what God is doing in me, and around me…and maybe – hopefully – even a little bit through me. So there! That’s my joy. Seizing these opportunities, not letting myself feel guilty about enjoying them, not comparing myself to what anyone else is doing. The Joy is thankfully accepting the Gift.
I was in a meeting once that was made up mostly of marathon runners, (yes, do you see why I have a complex? I’ve only run one! But that’s another post,), and there was a debate between running the race to win, or for you best time, because it is a RACE after all, and everyone should be trying to do there best. Verses the mentality of taking the time to talk to those around you, help those who may be hurting, or making a friend along the way.
We never came to a conclusion as to which was right, or which God would have us do…but here is what I think today.
The book of Hebrews says, “run as if to win the prize!”, but Ephesians says, “we are God’s masterpiece, created to do the good things He planned for us long ago.” So the answer is, both! Run with abandon towards your prize…but know that your prize is different from anyone else’s. Your prize could be won by sacrificing your own victory to help someone else, or it could be by setting a high bar for others to aspire to! Whatever God’s treasure is for you, it is yours to win. No one can take it from you, but if you start chasing someone else’s, you’re going to miss out on the crown God has placed at the finish just for you!
So today, with deep conviction, and so much gratitude I cannot even venture to express it here…I choose to run my own race, to chase my own prize, and to cheer you on to yours, every day that God gives me.
I’m so thankful for you friends, and am constantly inspired by the lives you live. May you take your joy today – you deserve it!