Much has happened since my last blog post in July. Shortly after that post, I accepted a new job position out of state and had to relocate. This morning I sit at an old library table turned dining room table, sipping my latte and nibbling a freshly baked, buttery croissant from the market across the street. I am surrounded by a clean, new, minimalist apartment. It’s peaceful, the sunlight cascades through an array of large and plentiful windows. But it required a tectonic move from Philadelphia to North Carolina to get here to a place of greater peace and joy.
And therein lies the key: What are we willing to do, to take on, to get to a better place? Moving an entire household, animals, vehicles then trying to work around a new career schedule that began before the physical move took place required much money, time management, and strategy. To do anything better requires time management and strategy. Sounds simple enough but not necessarily so. If it was, we'd all be superbly fit and strong in all areas.
It wasn’t easy. I knew it would initially be uncomfortable. Just as I knew several years ago when I had to get my head in a better space due to depression and anxiety that it would require initial discomfort. I had to make a choice to get up early every day to study my Bible, to create a stronger relationship with Jesus, so that I could mature in Him, handle my issues more effectively, not allow external forces or people determine how I felt on any given day.
I knew there was a joy and peace to be had despite outward influences because Christ promises me there is: John 16:33 "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." He constantly says in the Gospels, meaning “good news”, “I tell you the truth....” Christ never lies.
I used to search for peace in things, clothing, books, philosophies, etc., that next fix, until I realized no one and no thing had ever done anything near for me what Christ has: He walked this Earth for thirty-three years knowing he was going to be persecuted, tortured, nailed to a cross, and be killed, so that his blood could be shed to cover my sin, make me right with God, give me eternal life, and help me in this life every step of the way. No one, nothing, no idea, trend, belief, etc. has ever come close to doing what he did and does every single day.
Thus, it’s not surprising for me to see and hear people lament, who do not anchor into him, how mercurial their lives are. One minute they’re up; the next they are down. I know that up and down feeling. And it’s not that I don’t have times when things get tough. Starting a new and demanding career with a new learning curve isn’t easy. A two-hour daily commute in heavy traffic isn’t peaceful. Dealing with difficult personalities at work is no cake walk. Having lost my father almost a year ago and watching my mother grieve has been awful. But there is a constant in these days willed with worldly flux, and that is Christ.
Each morning, I experience mild discomfort to push myself out of bed, occasionally hitting snooze three times, so that I have time to work out then spend time with Him. I keep my body strong; I keep my mind strong. The reward is good health and Holy Spirit power working within my spirit to positively and powerfully affect my life, helping me negotiate with wisdom how to best handle difficult situations and difficult people. Negativity in this world will always be a constant. Before, someone's negativity would have driven me nuts. Not anymore. People no longer hold that power. Oh, they can think they do, but only if we allow it.
And I have a family member who, for lack of a better word, hates me. Is determined to keep the banner of every mistake I ever made held high. It is cruel and hurtful. And if it weren’t for Christ, would have lent to severe depression. Many things I cannot control. What I can control is how I think. I can control on that which I meditate. The world teaches us to respect our feelings. There is some truth to that, but not always. Feelings are fickle and can lead us into places we have no business being.
Because I spend time with Jesus each day, because I know how much he loves me, because I know the beauty of my value in him, I mature in Him daily. Good thought management is created by daily training. Just like anything else. Proficiency requires time and training. And it isn’t always comfortable. It’s challenging, demanding, and requires attention. But the result is greater strength in that area, right?
I glean revelation that He knows everything that is happening in my life and has allowed it. And it helps me to understand and trust that whatever He’s allowed is for my good. I no longer lament why things must be so hard. I’d lie if I said there weren’t times when I question Him, at times fiercely. But knowing that He knows everything about me, loves me, and searches my mind and heart, so that I can become stronger each day, stronger in Him, is greatly comforting.
Deep down, there is that steady knowledge that I can trust him. I don’t get easily tossed and turned by what happens outside me. I no longer wish I could be more like so and so. I used to be so hard on myself for not being more like that peaceful, quiet, Christian woman everyone esteemed. I am like the Apostle Peter, impetuous, snippy, presumptuous at times, obstinate, scrappy but fiercely passionate and loving. I can be in reverent prayer while driving, have a driver cut me off, whiz past me doing 100 mph (no joke) and irreverently sling and splash an explicative against my windshield. I'm a work in progress; I'll never deny that.
If I do lean toward thinking I'm lacking, I always return to my center: Him.
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8. Training is tough but the outcome is greater strength and joy.