I’ve been experiencing some discouragement the last couple of days. I had even considered giving up on a couple of things in my life that give me joy. But, encouragement came from the least likely place for me today. It was never meant to be encouragement but was in fact meant to be taken as negative feedback. I admit, I allowed the words of one person to frustrate me so entirely, that I actually considered just shutting my blog down. “I haven’t written in it much lately anyhow”, I was telling myself. Yet, after much thought and reflection, I’ve determined that the only thing I should be doing is tossing off that heavy cloak of discouragement and getting back down to the business of living and writing about it when I can.
Tonight, we celebrated my oldest daughter’s 20th birthday. This now makes me mom to two twenty-somethings! I know I should probably feel as old as Methuselah, but I really don’t. All I feel at the passing of my 2nd born’s 20th birthday is amazed at how fast the years flew by. I look at my youngest children and try to imagine myself when they are 20 something. Actually, by then, I really will be “old” or at least most people will probably see me as such. What more about life will I have discovered? Will any of us still be here on this earth by then? What regrets will I have and what can I do to keep from having any at all? All I do know for sure is that those years will also seem to fly by.
Which is why I just cannot live my life creating regrets. Much of what I write in this blog is to myself. Yes, its almost a form of talking to myself at times but typing it down for all the world to see. (this obviously comes with great personal risks) I write to reflect on my own inner struggles and to work out my thoughts in order to either lift myself up out of something or to come to a conclusion I’ve been needing to see. Many times I’ve written because something or someone has inspired thoughts to mull around in my head so noisily that the only way to get relief is to work it out with written words. Other times, I write to reflect or to make a memory. What I have discovered is that in writing a public blog, often you will find that you also encourage or enlighten others without even meaning to. On the other hand, occasionally, there will also be a reader who will take words personally when the topic was never meant for them at all. They will claim what was never theirs to claim. Some might argue that those readers saw themselves a little clearer and instead of using it positively for personal growth or reflection, they got their feathers ruffled or feelings hurt.
The truth of the matter is, that I’ve written much about my struggle with perfectionism and how it has been a horrible thorn in my side. Much of my adult life, I have had to fight this awful tendency to want everything to be “just right” or “perfect.” Many years down the road wisdom has overcome my fight with perfectionism and I’ve learned to live peaceably (most of the time) with my not-so-perfect self.(Oh, big surprise, right?!) Yes, its true, I don’t always “have it all together” and who does anyway? Contrary to what others might see, most of us are struggling daily with “something or another.” For each of us, that struggle is unique and probably only known by ourselves and God.
This wisdom I’ve gained didn’t come from reading a book or having some bright epiphany moment; it came from living; sometimes excruciatingly painful life lessons. I’ve learned how to accept what I must and I’ve learned what really matters. So much of our lives we fret over the things in this world that will quickly fade away with time and be forgotten(as if anyone really cares what my house looks like on any given day, but me) when we should be putting our emotional energies into more eternal things like our relationships, family, and spiritual matters. I don’t want to come to the end of my life someday and be able to say I regret how much time and energy I spent worrying about some of the things I’ve allowed myself to get worked up over. I want to be able to say that I cherished my life and cultivated it with love, passion for living and knowing and sharing God’s love.
Listen to me people, this life on this earth is short! We all know this and say it out loud occasionally, especially after watching or hearing bad news about someone else’s losses. We say this, but do we really live like we believe it? I want to live that way. I don’t want to miss anything that’s meant to make me a better person or overlook any of the most precious times in my life. And I sure don’t want to sit in the lap of discouragement. So, ironically, I’m thankful for the words of discouragement I read today. I allowed them to hurt me temporarily but decided instead to let them serve as a spark of encouragement.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
Very, very wise words and very, very beautiful pictures.