Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Balanced Life

The 2nd thing that I believe has helped me have a brighter outlook on life again is getting back a balanced life.

I believe that one of the reasons why I was feeling hopeless is because I hadn't been to church in quite awhile. When I came back from Malaysisa in June, summer kicked in and with it, many weekend getaways. Church was put on the back burner. When summer ended, I started feeling like I wasn't supposed to go back to the church where I'd been attending for almost 30 years. This was a very weird feeling for me. Although I had a peace about not going back, what now? I told myself that next Sunday I'll go check out a new church. Sunday came, I woke up to my alarm, but I couldn't get myself to go. That was odd for me. I'd never had a problem going to my old church by myself and I'm not a shy person, so what was the problem? I guess it really was more daunting than I led myself to believe. I found a friend who was also ready to seek out a new church and our search has begun (I'll go into that in another post).

It felt good to be back in a community setting ... even if we didn't know many people and it didn't yet feel like "home." At least I was going somewhere and getting fed.

In my last session with my awesome counselor, she told me to remember the 4 things that help keep a life balanced: Social, Physical, Intellectual and Spiritual. She said to remain healthy, you should do 2 - 3 of these activities per week. That totally makes sense because I feel I've been doing that lately ... leading to a more positive outlook and a more balanced life. I love when my counselor and I are on the same page. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Joy ... something I was lacking

Continuing on with #1 from my last post, here's some more of what I've learned from One Thousand Gifts. Since she says it best, this is all a direct quote from her book. It was such an eye opening moment for me. I hope you like it, too.

Luke 22:19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it ...

In the original language, "He gave thanks" reads "eucharisteo."
Eucharisteo = thanksgiving
root word - charis = grace
derivative - chara = joy

Joy. Ah ... yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about. That has always been the goal of the fullest life - joy. And my life knew exactly how elusive that slippery three letter word, joy, can be. I think of it then again ... the lunge for more. More what? And this was it; I could tell how my whole being responded to that one word. I longed for more life, for more holy joy. But where can I seize this holy grail of joy? Deep chara joy is found only at the table of euCHARisteo - the table of thanksgiving. Is it that simple? Is the height of my chara joy dependant on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks? As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be - unbelievably - possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Continuing on my weird journey

The question in my last post started creeping into my brain back in late October. I'm glad I didn't post about it then because I think I would've sounded quite hopeless if I had. At first I felt quite void and lifeless when I was asking it. After wrestling with it for a few months, while I'm still asking the same question, "What's the point to my life?" I have hope again. I believe that my friends asking me what's going on was the first step in me being honest with myself that something, in fact, was going on. Then I could start dealing with it. There are 2 things that I believe have helped me have a brighter outlook again.

1) I started reading One Thousand Gifts
I know that there's controversy around this book and I get it. I really do. However, I'm trying to look past that and really get to the meat of what she's saying. I'm only a few chapters in and here are some of my journal notes:

She starts off the book talking about how when her little sister died, her family became closed to "any notion of grace." She started believing "the Serpent's hissing lie" that God isn't good, that He "withholds good from His children, that God does not genuinely, fully love us." I know I haven't had a hard life so some people may say that it's easy for me to not have turned from God, but even now when I'm questioning my point in life, I'm SO glad that I still believe God is a loving, caring God. I'm not mad at Him at all. She goes on to say, "Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity; the sin of ingratitude. Our fall was, has always been and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives." Lord help me NOT to be ungrateful! That was a good wake up call as to why I was really asking myself, "What's the point to life?" Am I unsatisfied with where I'm at? I believe that my answer to that question is no, but then why am I asking what the point is? I'm confused. Maybe I am a little unsatisfied. I'll be honest with God about that and ask Him to really unveil my heart ... since He knows it better than I do!

Like I said, I'm only a couple of chapters in on the book, but I've heard that this book talks about keeping a gratitude journal, so even though I haven't gotten to that part of the book yet, I've started one. I don't want to become a spoiled brat that thinks, "God owes me more than this!" I want to live daily and to not live in the future. I find that I really start thinking, "What's the point?" when I start looking too far into the future. I want to live in the moment and to know that God has me exactly where I'm at, at that moment, for a reason. God does nothing without a purpose. I want to choose to live a life of gratitude.

I've had a few friends lose a parent over the last year ... 2 within the last month alone. Just before Christmas. As I read the next Chapter of One Thousand Gifts, it talks about living life to the fullest NOW. "How to live the fullest life here that delivers into the full life ever after. Thinking on the beginning of this year, who does He call to come home? Is it me, Lord? May I be ready." Wow ... may I be ready ... those are powerful words. "Will I have lived fully - or just empty? How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?"

I know that death isn't the most uplifting topic to think or talk about, but it's going to happen to all of us sooner or later. I want to be ready and to have truly lived every day to it's potential.

I'll write what I've learned about joy tomorrow ...

Monday, January 09, 2012

What's the Point to Life? Riddle me this ...

It's kind of odd that my last post is about death and then I went silent. Did anyone think I'd died? haha - ok, maybe I shouldn't joke about that, but it is kind of ironic, isn't it?

Almost right after I posted that, I started going through something internally. A change, if you will. I don't think it's necessarily a bad change, but a change none the less. It's been confusing at times and scary at times. I'd like to fill you in on a bit of it, just to give you a little insight as to why I went silent. Not that I can fully explain it and hopefully you won't be more confused after I'm done, but here it goes.

I've been asking God, "What's the point to life?"

You may be thinking, "Ooooh, she's turning 40 soon. She's having a mid-life crisis!" and you wouldn't be thinking anything that I haven't already thought myself. Thing is, I'm really not scared of turning 40. I'm really not. I'm already starting to plan my celebration! Anyway, I may very well be going through a mid-life crisis, but I still need to get myself through it and come out happy on the other side. There's so much going on in my head right now that I may have to try to explain this in more than one post.

Let me just say off the top that I'm not depressed or angry at God. I completely still believe He's got a plan for my life and that it's the best plan there could be. Him and I are simply just discussing it and working through it together. I'm not one to buy into what society says is "the norm" but yet I've been thinking a lot lately about not being married and not having kids. What's been the point to my life if those things haven't happened to me? As I've started sharing these thoughts with people, I've been surprised to find out that even married people go through this and have asked this same question. To me, it feels like since they HAVE the spouse and the kids, how can they ask it, but they have their own reason for asking it, I guess. It makes me feel a little better, I guess.

I do also feel that I'm changing. Not necessarily in a bad way, though. I feel that I've become more of a homebody lately. I'm really enjoying staying home. Some of my friends have started noticing, so I've had to have the "it's not you, it's me" talk with them. Seriously! I know, it sounds like I'm breaking up with them, but I really do want them to know that it's nothing they've done. I still love my friends dearly and I don't want to jeopardize my relationships with any of them. I'm not the worrying type, but there's a small part of me that's scared that when I come out on the other side of whatever it is that I'm going through, they may not like the new me. I know what you're going to say ... "if they're true friends, they'll still be your friend after you come through this" and I get that, but do you see why I worry a little?

I think it's helped tremendously that those of you who've noticed my absence have questioned me on it. I want to publicly thank you for doing so in such a loving way that helped me open up and start a dialogue about it. I don't expect anyone to have the magic phrase/answer/do this jig 3 times and stand on your head while doing it solution that will solve the answer to my riddle, but I do enjoy hearing others opinions and takes on things. It helps me process.

Like I said, I've got a lot more to say about this, but for today, I'll leave it at this. Thank you for your patience with me.