Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Times Like These

This morning my heart is full of the many beautiful, good things in my life.  I’m thinking of these things, dwelling on them, because otherwise I might get lost in a sea of questions and worry.  Many areas of my life are changing--some too quickly, some too slowly, a few not at all--and these kinds of weird, out-of-sync, sort-of-transitional-but-kind-of-not periods of life have a history of messing with my head.  This time is no different.   My mind gets overrun with panicky brainwaves sprinting back and forth and in circles, getting me nowhere but exhausted.  What if... what do I... when should I... where should we... but then... and what about... This brain of mine has an astounding ability to freak itself out in times like these.  It started doing it again a few weeks ago.  
The great thing about brains, though, is that they keep a record of the past--the past which is full of times just like these--times like these that turned out fine...better than fine, even.  Did you know that it’s actually possible to slow down, maybe even stop, those frantic, worried brainwaves?  I’m slowly (ever so slowly) learning how.  This morning, I decided that when crazy thoughts are running rampantly back and forth and side to side and ear to ear, I will take a breath and try to direct them backward.  I will send them on a gentle stroll down memory lane to visit previous “times like these” that have resulted in a stronger faith, a more compassionate heart, deeper relationships, exciting new experiences, and better character.  
I decided that when I start worrying about where we’re going to live in a few weeks, I will choose to remember that God provided every time I worried about the same thing in years past.  When I start worrying about where we’re going to store our stuff if we have to move somewhere small and/or furnished, I will choose to remember that in the not-so-distant past we didn’t have much stuff at all--and we were just fine.  I will choose to remember what a blessing it is to have stuff to worry about storing, be grateful for the potential opportunity to share our stuff with others, and take advantage of the chance to simplify.  When I start getting overwhelmed by the responsibilities, commitments, and activities in my life, I will choose to view them not as obligations but as opportunities to serve, learn, love, and live more fully.  I will choose to focus on things that I am passionate about, things that I’m great at, and things that God has clearly asked me to be a part of, and I will let the other things rest.  When I start to worry about finding the perfect job in the perfect place, I will choose to remember that I'm part of a bigger story than my own, and simply trust things to come together as they should.  
I will choose to dwell on the gifts I have in my life: A husband who loves me more every day, and tells me so.  Fresh produce provided by friends.  A job where I have the daily opportunity to support the college’s mission to “improve your world.”  E-mails and handmade cards from old friends who helped shape me into who I am, gave me the best memories I could ask for, and helped me grow through hard times.  Coffee with new friends who inspire me.  Thesis work that challenges me and forces me to make a choice--either stick with it and figure it out, or give up and have nothing to show for it.  Family who love, encourage, and support me.  A rich ancestry of amazing people with amazing stories, and a great aunt who cataloged and recorded it all with great care.  Cool summer evenings.  Horseback rides at dusk through the hayfields on a crazy thoroughbred who has captured my heart.  Journals and pictures from past experiences in Appalachia and Honduras that changed my entire outlook on life, the world, possessions, and happiness.  A lovely guitar.  Musical ability that allows me to play, sing, and worship, but little enough of it that I am constantly humbled and reminded that it’s not about me.  Really good coffee.  The chance to be involved with projects helping revitalize the city economically, socially, and environmentally.  Waking up to Brooke Fraser music on the alarm clock.  Homemade granola.  On and on and on and on and on...
I will dwell on these gifts, be thankful, and remember that “times like these” help make us who we are.  

"I know the plans I have for you…. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope." -Jeremiah 29:11
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" -Romans 8:28

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