It has been a heck of a year already.
Do you feel that way, too? So much has happened, good and bad, and at times I am exhausted thinking about it all. Although, everything is exhausting right now since I’m on all these meds and hardly sleeping.
Yet, somehow, I have managed to get a lot more done today than I have in a while. I am running off of three hours of sleep and I still worked today, cleaned with my mother and sister, took a detox bath, did laundry (including the sheets which I am currently procrastinating taking out of the dryer because that means I have to put them back on the bed if I plan to sleep with sheets tonight, especially if I plan to go to bed before the boys decide it’s time to come in and get cleaned up because there is no way I’m letting dirty garage Andrew touch my clean white sheets. It ain’t happening. But I’m still just sitting here…), cleaned my wooden dressers that were my bargain rehab project almost two years ago, edited and published a medical blog post…. I have a feeling I’m not going to get anything done tomorrow.
I’ve noticed lately I have been struggling a lot with keeping my thoughts positive and Christ centered. It is so easy to slip into making excuses for negative thoughts when the world makes the excuses seem valid. Being chronically ill is an excuse to have a bad attitude about life, right? Or lack of sleep due to disgusting medications? Being stabbed in the back by people you had considered family should be another good excuse. Or the fact I can’t be in the sunshine again, because where is happiness without sunshine?
Along with learning how to rest and give God control, I think God is also trying to teach me how to find joy again.
I remember being a kid and looking at something and thinking, “That’s so cool!” when it wasn’t anything spectacular, just different or pretty or random. Somewhere over the years, I’ve noticed I find less and less joy in the little things even though I really want to find it.
I love roses. But they come with thorns and I never forget that. Sunflowers are bright and sunny, but dark in the middle. I see the good and the bad and somehow I find I have been focusing more on the bad than the good lately.
Ever have a bad day and turn to retail therapy? I rarely do that, but after I got a distressing email on Tuesday, I went shopping.
Well, I had to go grocery shopping. But, while I was there, I saw they had the sweetest little succulents and orchids and even though I somehow do not have a green thumb, I decided I’d attempt to care for one of the orchids.
I now have three plants to take care of (although the mini cactus in a shot glass is actually Andrew’s and it hardly requires any attention). My friend Leah gave me some lovely flowers in a hanging basket that Andrew hung in front of the kitchen window. And now my little orchid.
There is something about seeing the flowers blossom and open that if I make myself pay attention, it brings joy and a little spark of hope.
I put the orchid on my kitchen windowsill where I have placed a lot of little things that make me smile. A picture of Andrew and me that we used for our save the dates, a plaque that says “If all else fails, take a nap” that Sarah and Aleigh gave me for my birthday this year, some of my teapots, my hope*writers mug, the wine glass Sarah gave me for my 21st birthday that has my tea infusing sloth from Leah in it because it’s cute, and we can’t forget my Trim Healthy Mama cookbooks that I keep right there so I have easy access to them. If only I felt like cooking, it’s hard to cook when you don’t want to eat anything…
And there I go again, not looking at the positive. Where is Christ in this situation? Where is the hope, the joy?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.James 1:2-3 NIV
There is joy in the trials because it produces perseverance. Joy isn’t being happy, it’s being at peace and content.
Maybe that is why I am having issues finding joy, peace has been hard to find because anxiety has been running around me, waving flags in the air and turning cartwheels to keep my focus on it. Lack of sleep hasn’t been helping, it’s hard to be mentally well when you’re physically exhausted. Yet, I have done so much today simply to keep myself busy.
Distracting myself instead of sorting myself out. I suppose that is why I am sitting here after midnight writing about joy.
To be honest, hoping has been bleak lately. I told myself I’d allow one day for a pity party and I’ve been finding the party hanging out in mind spaces I’d rather it not be in.
I feel like hope, peace, and joy all walk hand in hand and when I struggle to find elements of one of those, I struggle to find all of them.
But hope is not gone because my hope is in Jesus and even death could not hold him down. These trials are to refine me.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:3-6 ESV
Peace is not gone because Jesus gives peace. He tells us there will be troubles on this earth but he has overcome them.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NIV
As for joy, somedays it is hard to find, but one day it will never be taken from me.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”John 16:20-22 ESV
And that is where hope and joy are. They are in Jesus and Jesus is in me so I have them, too.
Do you have a hard time finding joy and hope in hard times as well? It’s usually not this difficult for me to keep that focus. What are some ways you find it best to refocus your thoughts on Jesus and kick out the emotions and negative thoughts that the world wants you to have?
Writing is one way for me. Journaling for myself, writing down my prayers, updating my blog, working on my book.
Music is another way I can disconnect from the world and spend some time on a more spiritual plane. That one is a little more difficult at the moment because I haven’t been able to sing since I got sick last month before the bronchoscopy. If I’m not careful, that will upset me further and give me an even more negative mindset.
A new one for me is the flowers I’ve been taking care of. I noticed a new blossom is preparing to open and it made me stop and think about the beauty and the joy in the situation
What about you? What are your tips or well used tricks to get your mind back where it should be so your soul can be refreshed? Where is your joy?
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV