Choose your rut carefully… You’ll be in it for the next 150 miles
I’m not even going to ask if you’ve been in a rut lately, because, helloooo, Covid.
How are you coping, friend? I keep thinking about a line from an old Mel Gibson movie, when someone asked him how he was doing after his wife died, he replied, “It’s just breathe, breathe, breathe all day long.”
Amen. You, too?
The ruts have become deep around my household and not just because of the pandemic. In the past four years we experienced a catastrophic health event, (my husband’s pulmonary embolism) prolonged pain and immobility, (my husband’s arthritic hip) surgery and recovery, resulting emotional and financial challenges and now the isolation and results of covid.
Then there’s the ongoing political rancor, racial tension and overall, “I don’t even recognize my country anymore,” angst.
(Feel your anxiety rising? Inhale. Hold four counts, exhale through your mouth seven counts. You’re welcome.)
10 years ago, if you had asked me what the theme of my life was, I would’ve said survival. With three children under the age of three, multiple ministry moves, 17 different houses, struggling to make ends meet and trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was all about survival.
Of course, by God’s grace I did survive but I wanted to do more than just survive. In my mind, survival looked like hanging onto a rope, dangling over an abyss and not letting go. I preferred to climb that rope and end up on top of the mountain enjoying the view. Gratitude was the key that took me from surviving to thriving.
Gratitude gradually became my life’s theme
I write about gratitude a LOT. So whyam I writing about this again, you ask?
I guess because I keep thinking about the Bible verse, “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light’ and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.” Matt 10:27.
Yeah, I know that’s a little out of context, but this blog? It’s my housetop and this former woe-is-me-woman can’t help but shout, “Look what the Lord has done! He healed my body he touched my mind, he saved me just in time!”
Pssst… can I tell you a secret? You’ve got what it takes. Really. Everything you need you already have. You already have everything you need. (Notice I said “need, not want.”)
One of the life lessons I’ve heard people speak about during this season of isolation is they’ve realized the blessings of what they already have. Without the normal everyday distractions of commuting, car-pooling, shopping, movies, concerts, eating out, their eyes were suddenly opened to what was there all along: ENOUGH. And not only was it enough, it was morethan enough.
It’s like the whole world stopped for a moment, took time to breathe and collectively murmured, “Ohhhh…..”
Of course, now that we’re in the midst of back-to-school craziness, elections, racial divisions and hurricanes x 2, the collective sigh has turned into a groan. NOT ENOUGH. Not enough patience, emotional and mental capacity, clarity; not enough bandwidth to deal.
So, it was a mercy this morning to read this verse in 2nd Peter from The Passion Translation:
“May grace and peace cascade over you as you live in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us by his divine power.” 2 Peter 1:2-3
The practice of list writing has been so life changing, especially in this season, that I keep coming up with new list writing prompts. Aside from the usual TO DO list, (which by the way, is the only thing that has motivated me to move at all since the beginning of March) I’ve made lists of what I’m longing for, and lists of my favorite things. (Remember that song? Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens?) “When the dog bites, when the bee stings; when I’m feeling sad; I simply remember…”
Lists help me remember.
Nightly #countingitalljoy gratitude lists remind me to purposely look for joy throughout the day. I’ve found list making to be a tremendous help during this strange time of feeling like the world (including me) has gone stark raving mad.
Emily P. Freeman, author of The Next Right Thing, encourages her readers to keep a different sort of list, one that will change according to the season of life you’re in. It’s a way of making peace with the present and therefore being present. She calls it “These are the days of…” fill in the blank with your current experience of work, family, recreation, and spiritual life.
This is maybe my favorite list of all, because it helps me celebrate the good things and remember that the hard things are (hopefully) not forever. Here’s my current list: