Sometimes life is hard, and sometimes life is grand. But all in all...it is a wonderful struggle. We have daily decisions to make, news to bear, and work to do, and somehow we normally muster the strength and enthusiasm to get up and face the next day...and the next. We have people that come into our lives, animals that give us unconditional love, and people that break our hearts.
We vacation to give ourselves a break from a life that is lived on overdrive and to provide our children with enriching experiences of travel, family memories, and because our neighbors do. In fact, a lot of what we do is to impress the neighbors, sadly. We drive our children from what appears to be the cradle to every imaginable lesson, playdate, and team sport because we might find a God-given talent that will surely wither on the the vine if not for our insistence to bring it out, develop it, and hopefully one day help them land a scholarship for it.
We concern ourselves with who they are dating, how they are doing, and try to make sure that they have the ability to fit in. Too bad we don't value the ability to stand out in uniqueness as much as we should. We want a variation of a "sound bite" to give our friends and neighbors as a report of what our children are doing...and accomplishing...instead of praying for them and quietly nurturing them and training them up in the way that they "should" go as the Bible says. We believe that the "should" includes good grades, a plethora of extracurricular activities and marrying up. This is especially important to some of us as we intend to correct any and every mistake that we ever made by insuring that those don't occur with our children.
Where we once kept our feelings to ourselves and in check in front of others, we are now encouraged to express our opinions. We blast telemarketers because they have interrupted our time, we rail at politicians who vote the wrong way, and we yell at the lady in the drivethru who can't seem to manage to get the correct McNugget sauce in the bag. We complain about our looks, our jobs, and our mates. We wish for the opposite of what we have and wonder why other people don't value us. We see the glass as half empty and whine that it is full of tap water instead of Evian.
And then one day we realize that our ladder of success has been on the wrong wall and we have to descend to attempt to find another ladder. Why climb when we can soar? Sometimes, though, we have to have the ladder jerked out from under us so that we can explore what we were meant to accomplish.
But all of us need to start looking around with an appreciative eye because we've spent way too much time complaining and not enough time thanking God for all that we have.
So, for any of you who are feeling the pangs of regret that you turned down invitations because you were fearful of the perception of others...vow to never let that be an excuse again. Look for the greatness within each person you encounter...and appreciate the gifts and talents that God prewired into every one of us. After all, we are all reflections of Him in some way. Let your children feel the sting of defeat and learn lessons that will strengthen them and make them capable of navigating this life. Without the knowledge that they can fail and survive...they will never know...or at least fully appreciate...the joy of perseverance and succeeding. They'll need that grit to be able to stand true to their faith in the midst of what the Bible promises will not be a bed of roses.
If people need help...help them. If you've been down that road before...show them the rabbit trail that you found and get them safely headed in the right direction. If you are a warrior...fight for what you believe in. Picket, write, call, and pray. But don't help people who God doesn't place in your path, that are in a pickle because of their own stupid decisions, and if you don't have the means to do so. If you try, you'll only sign on for a stint in codependency that won't break the cycle...and will certainly break your heart and empty your wallet. If God calls you to help...be sure that it was you that He called.
Be strong in your faith, true to your word, and exceptional in your output. Try to use what is at your disposal, and quit wanting the newest, brightest and best. That kind of gluttony and vanity will eventually consume you. Use any power you are given for the greater good, and realize that when you at your weakest...God will step in and work beside you so that everyone sees His power working through you. He normally uses common vessels to do great works.
If you've made mistakes, acknowledge that and move on. Letting that define your life means that you'll have a lifetime of regret and bitterness and not much else. If you need help...ask. But don't expect other people to drop everything to talk you through something more than one time. And for those of you who do help...expect nothing in return. Not even "thank you." If something does not go according to plan, there is probably a reason for it...and that is that it simply wasn't your destiny. Accept it and quit living in the past.
I don't know why I am so full of philosophical thoughts today...but this is what God put on my heart to write...so here it is. I'm just the messenger. I hope that you find peace and dignity, strength and beauty in what faces you today and that you'll remember that looking up is the answer to most of life's problems. Frankly, it is designed that way.
So, watch a sunrise, listen to a baby's laugh, call your mother or children, and see the irises and daffodils bloom. Be happy. Quit worrying. Stop striving so hard. Give up your expectations of perfection...in yourself...and others. Breathe.
Thanks for reading. :)