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Friday, January 17, 2014

Defeated Before I Begin? 4 Tips to Remember

I tend to work very late into the night.  It's the only time the house is quiet and I don't have kids clamoring for food or homework help or cuddles.  It's the only time I can't run the washing machine, even if I wanted to (which I don't, by then!). . .the laundry room is right next to the girl's room.

In the very late hours, I can sit near the fire in the living room (which is teeming with activity just a few hours before) and revel in the glorious peacefulness.  Dark and hushed and generally free of distractions, I love it then and am able to write.

However, morning responsibilities don't really seem to care when I go to bed.  Appointments begin, school is in session, and church starts whether I have had eight hours or not.  And most days, I do not.  It isn't ideal, but I realize it is just a season and will change at some point.

But last night, I finished a little earlier than usual and had no firm appointments I needed to attend this morning.  My darling husband was in charge of the school run, so I got the best part of a whole night's sleep.  7 hours and 55 minutes of restful bliss.

I felt like a new woman.

I even lazed in be a few minutes rather than shooting out of bed like a bullet the moment my eyes first opened. It was lovely and relaxing and decadent!

But laying there thinking, my mind just wouldn't enjoy the chance to ease leisurely into the day. . .no, it just had to start trying to work out the many current concerns facing our family. . .to figure out plans and ways to fix and mend and mitigate and unravel some difficulties.

Within seconds of waking, I was already in knots over issues I cannot do too much about.  Under the covers, not even dressed or out of bed, I already felt defeated.  Already felt inadequate.

And it could have gotten worse.

But then I opted to think differently.  I opted not to sink into some sort of depressive funk and focus on what I know about times like this.  I literally forced my mind away from the list of things that are concerning me and focused on what I have learned through life's frequent 'down bits':

  1. Rough times are almost always temporary, even if they feel unending.  Whenever I have felt lonely or sad or afraid or worried, whenever I have lacked for direction or help or money, whenever a relationship has proven difficult, or whenever I have made a huge, ridiculous mistake. . .it ALWAYS gets better.
  2. My attitude has a lot to do with how fast things change.  If I get angry or sad or feel defeated, the struggle often is prolonged.  It's only when I make peace with my circumstances and opt to be thankful for all that is currently 'right' and stop obsessing over what is 'wrong' that I tend to see changes happen.
  3. Difficult events are always an 'opportunity for growth.'  A quote someone left in my high school yearbook (way back when) sums this up:  Whether life shines you up or grinds you down depends on what you're made of.  (Ain't that the truth!)  I choose to be made of something pretty tough.
  4. We're not walking alone.  Though sometimes it feels like it, most of us have a spouse or family member or friend to share the journey with, if we choose to let them in.  That is a HUGE blessing and encouragement. . .just knowing we have someone to listen to us and empathize is often crucial in our getting through a hard patch.  But we also have a God, who has promised 'never to leave us, nor forsake us.'  (Deuteronomy 31:6)  That's the best news of all.

And once I forced myself to 'remember' these lessons that should, frankly, be second nature to me by now, it's amazing how much lighter I felt.

Stretching out my arms into the cool morning air, I rose, rested. . .and ready to face the day.

(photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here.)

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