Press On

Rhythm and routine have become a vital part of my progress. So every morning starts with Bible Study, reading, prayer, and speaking positive scriptures over my life.

Currently I’m studying A Jewel in His Crown and this morning a few passages jumped out at me:

  • Even if you’ve gotten out of the mud of debt or mistakes in your past, that is not enough. You’ve got to change clothes and stop wearing that pain around or else “your identity is being ruined by the dirty puddle of the past.”
  • “Your friends know that your self-esteem has been demolished by the mud of your past. They probably aren’t going to tell you that. They are just going to pity you right out of the self-esteem that is rightfully yours.”
  • “The God of the universe …  has already given you a new beginning, a new name, and a new purpose for living. “

Wow! It’s important to lean the difference between addressing the past and living there. Pity is an addictive narcotic. It’s easy to hunger for that pity and want to be defined by:

  • Past addictions
  • Past loss
  • Past disappointments
  • Past failures

But what all these things have in common is that they are in the past.

I flipped over to Power Thoughts, which is the book I’m reading right now. The first thing I read is

“Your past can be am unbearably heavy load when you try to carry it into your present.”

This is immediately followed by another:

“If you feel disappointment due to the mistakes of the past, it is time to shake it off and get reappointed. Your future has no room in it for the past!“

Ok, God, you have my attention. What do you want me to learn?

Joyce quotes a verse in the next paragraph so I opened it in my Bible.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ 

Paul recognized that holding on to the past, both its success and failures, is a hinderance to moving forward.

I’m not defined by my battle with addiction; it’s in the past. I’m not defined by my 3.96 GPA; it’s in the past. I’m not defined by my mistakes on Monday; it’s in the past. I’m not defined by losing my father, losing my mother, and becoming an orphan; it’s all in the past.

“You get sympathy for your struggles but you earn respect by overcoming them.”

I have no idea where I first head that quote but it’s one I’ve repeated it for years. And it’s true. There is no glory in suffering for the sake of suffering.

I moved to set the Bible aside and I saw the beginning of verse 15:

“Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind…” (emphasis mine).

Wow, ability to move on from the past is a sign of maturity. And today it’s time to grow up.

I told my cousin that I was working on a blog about letting go of the past. She said that she thinks the past is valuable and we shouldn’t forget. I agree. The past should not be forgotten… it just shouldn’t be carried into our present. But that’s a blog for another day. 💖

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Don’t Try This Alone

I made bad decisions today. I wasted time. I ate what I shouldn’t. I responded emotionally where I should have reacted responsibly.

I get home to a small gift hanging on my door. Nothing I couldn’t t buy for myself. Just an ornament and with it a note reminding me of my goal. Reminding me why I can’t give up. Reminding me why my life matters.

And I wake up. It’s late but I’m not tired anymore. I take action and accomplish important tasks that just moments before I was content to leave undone.

Hours later I collapse in bed, glad that today didn’t beat me. Glad that when I grow tired or let myself be distracted, I’ve got fellow warriors to remind me of my goal.

Life is far too difficult to be lived alone.

Redefining Christmas

I’m kinda done with all of it. The lights and the music and the sweets. Mostly just tired of people asking how I am doing and what my Christmas plans are. My plans are to go hide under a blanket until February, OK?

Loss is hard. And the holidays make it harder. The world seems to be so perfect in their frosted windows, tinsel, and lights. Movies, TV shows, and commercials promise the peaceful family with the loving spouse and the cheerful children. Meanwhile there are the presents not being bought this year, the empty stocking hung, and the empty seat at the table.

Many people I love and care about have lost a parent or spouse this year and it makes my heart ache for them. With fresh loss, this season is indescribably difficult and it’s in your face everywhere you turn. For everyone enduring loss, I wish I could fix it for you. Or at least if there was some way to bring you comfort and encouragement in this season.

Problem is that I am emotionally empty myself.

We don’t have empty seats at the table this year; there is no table. There isn’t an empty stocking to hang because all of the stockings are packed away. The house doesn’t feel like it’s missing someone; the house is empty and on the market and we are trying to figure out what Christmas looks like without a home to go back to and mom’s Gooey Bars to fight over.

I’ve tried to hold on to the past and make it still the present.

Around Christmas time, my dad always claims to be Jewish (his mom almost married a Jewish man when he was young). This is 100% untrue but each year he asks for Hanukkah sticks and a menorah. Each year I wrap his gift in Hanukkah wrapping paper and use a Hanukkah card.

This year my whiteboard at work (the only Christmas decorations I have done) has Christmas trees drawn by a coworker and then some Hanukkah icons I attempted to draw myself.

My family loved Star Wars. My parents were married on May 4th (International Star Wars Day), although I don’t think Star Wars Day was celebrated yet in 1985. I remember being exposed to Star Wars for the first time when my dad got the new Special Edition VHS of the original trilogy. We read the books and watched the movies. Ever since the movies started coming out in December, we would go together on Christmas weekend.

This weekend I went to see The Last Jedi (don’t worry, no spoilers) and walked out thinking “that’s the best Star Wars movie so far.” But then I cried for several hours because it’s just not the same without my dad’s rolling commentary and mom telling him to be quiet.

Every attempt to bring old traditions into the present has just left the ache of what will never be again. And where I have been amazingly stoic for several months, the holidays have brought my loss to mind and brought me to tears several times every week.

Today I decided to run away. It just got to me; it was too much. I can’t take it. Peace, out; I will see you all in January. (This is silly, obviously, and not going to happen. But, there’s always been something romantic about running away.)

I guess this is the point in the blog where I say “keep your chin up; it gets better.” But I don’t really have an answer or all that much to say. This is my first Christmas after a difficult year. Maybe next year will be better? Come ask me in a year.

What I do know is that Christmas isn’t about presents, food, or even really about family. Christmas is about the birth of the Savior, the coming of our only hope. Without Christmas, there is no Easter. And without Easter, there is no hope of ever seeing my parents again.

As much as this season has been hard and as much as I have cried, I do not mourn as one without hope. There isn’t a Jedi coming in to save the day by killing my enemies and declaring victory. But there is a savior who was born about 2000 years ago.

And the birth of hope is always worth celebrating.