‘Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ Romans 5:3-5
I sit here this morning a bag of mixed emotions but not one of them is dread or despair and for that I am grateful. A mixture of pain and exhaustion continually weigh me down only to be worsened by cyclical emotional flashbacks. Flashbacks triggered by the dramas of life, hidden reminders of the pain I’ve carried for far too long. Each episode leaves me fighting to recover, desperate to feel some sense of normalcy and wellness. If I’m being honest, it would much easier to give into it all and simply stop fighting but I don’t. I look around me and see all I love fading away, not by accident, but by choice and instead I choose to keep fighting.
My entire life has been a journey of proving I can do better than those who came before me. I graduated high school because my parents never did. I attended and graduated from college because my parents and most of my family never did. I changed the rules of parenting because my parents and Ed’s never did. I fight for my marriage because my parents never did. I fight daily because God empowers me to persevere. Now I find myself in a season of life where anger and sadness drive me to not only be better but to leave behind a legacy my son can be proud of.
I learned early on not to sit in one’s own filth, witnessing seasons of life when my Mom refused to leave her bed. A season that ended with a stay in the local mental health hospital. Outpatient therapy followed leading her to a moment of writing letters to everyone who ever ‘wronged’ her. Letters meant to be written and destroyed yet they were mailed. I’ve always seen this as a breakdown in the healing process. In my experience, we blame, we forgive, we move on. Moving on involves becoming mindful and reflexive in terms of one’s part in their own life, my Mom never got there. She stopped at blame and never moved on to forgiveness let alone mindfulness.
Journey of Purpose
These are the memories that drive me to do better and to be better. These are the moments that push me to take every measure to keep moving forward – purposefully! I sit here in the room I chose, surrounded by every tool used in an effort to keep my eye on the prize. A bookshelf full of God’s word and self-development books capped off by a collection of notebooks. A library of knowledge – step two in preparing for the fight. Lining the walls are a calendar, two corkboards, and a dry erase board. This is not a wall of empty canvases and mindlessness but that of purpose and understanding.
The central theme of it all, an extra-large corkboard shining bright with direction and promise. Continual reminders – ‘Journey of Purpose’ heads the cast with ‘God’ sitting in line with ‘purpose’ and ‘love.’ The bullseye of the board is a large ‘no parking’ sign, a harsh reminder that I’m not meant to spend too much time in my comfort zone. A vision board not of things I want but rather God’s undeniable purpose for me. To the left a smaller corkboard with a much bigger message – ‘I AM HIS!’ This massive little board reminds me daily that I am the daughter of a King, that I am not moved by this world, and that I will not live in fear. Love, gratitude, and purpose sit firmly in His presence as reminders of what life is all about.
A calendar hangs to the left of the smaller corkboard, a day-to-day reminder of the good in my life. Funnily enough, I’ve been desperate to practice daily gratitude, but I’ve continually gotten bogged down by other’s ideas of gratitude and gratitude journaling. I started the year with a firm plan, an overabundant plan to force myself to practice gratitude daily in many forms. The plan failed miserably, leaving me feeling a bit deflated but then I noticed my calendar. In January, I started noting ‘moments’ on my calendar as a reminder of what I’ve experienced and accomplished. I have a way of overlooking these things, choosing instead to focus on my flaws and failures. The act of noting the little victories seemed important as I started a new year. Looking up I see a rainbow of colors lining nearly every day of the weeks past and I smile.
These are not small moments, not in my world. It all started last year with a solo trip to the beach and a plan to continually crush comfort zones and now it’s one of my main purposes in life. January is less colorful than February, with far more empty space. One would think January was an uneventful month, but it wasn’t. January houses five moments in my life, five moments of comfort crushing determination. My favorites were moments of pushing against fear and shame, moments of purposefully making myself uncomfortable. The most memorable, an evening of Improv and social development with the IAM50MILLION social group. An event six month in the making, and one of many things on my bucket list of comfort crushing dreams. An experience I was blessed to share with my husband and son on two separate occasions.
February is a mix of beautiful hues reflecting all that is good and beautiful in my life. Dinner and evenings with friends. Writing groups and day trips. Lunches, picnics, and games with my boys. Moments of walking, biking, and exploring when wellness allows. Moments of facing my fears, choosing forgiveness, and connecting with those who hurt me in the past. Phone calls and visits of reparation and compassion.
March, only two weeks in and I can already see all I have to be grateful for. Day trips and moments at the pond. A family night out full of Improv, laughter, and wonder. A visit with the in-laws, the second in a month. A call to my Dad and a call to my Mom, one good and one bad, but both something to be grateful for. More importantly, March marks a shift in our family dynamic, God moving in our lives and my boys are responding.
I am blessed beyond all measure by God’s grace and all He sets before me, before us. I am continually astounded by His goodness and empowered by His gifts. I will continue to fight the good fight regardless of what the world sets before me, and I will be grateful!
Photo by Rosie Kerr