Some Monday's just have a way of knowing what day it is. It's like okay, good morning, happy Monday!! Now it's time to make you really see that it's Monday.. You're going to have a bad hair day, sleep through your alarm, get to work late, and get assigned lots of pointless and time-consuming projects in class.
Mine started off slightly similar, except I woke up early, curled my hair, and ate a decent breakfast all before 6:15. Seems like a decent morning, right? That's until I go out to my car that was calmly sitting on the curb. And by calmly I mean sounding like its about to explode at any minute because it's randomly revving and making some clunky noises. I put it in drive and make it not even two feet before it shuts off. So I get it to turn back on after a few attempts and pull it over far enough that I can leave it there and call my roommate who had been watching me from the window. Like the sweet girl that she is she gives me her keys and I drive her car to the chiropractor on this bitterly freezing morning, only a tad bit cold because the heat doesn't exactly work in the car.. So by the time I finally make it to my 630 appointment at 645, my hands are a tad frozen and then whaddyaknow, I can't get the gear into park.
All I could think was oh my gosh, now I broke her car. So after a few more attempts I finally got it to park and went inside.
The receptionists are always joyful as ever and I'm always happy to see them. After telling them about my morning so far, both of their remarks were "What?! And you're still smiling right now? Anyone else would be having a panic attack right about now. That's so awesome!"
And that stuck with me all day. Particularly later as my car slowly made its way to the car shop, and as I sat for over 2 and a half hours waiting for it to be fixed, I went about it in the best way I could. I might have had white knuckles from gripping the steering wheel in fear of the car turning off on my way there and God probably had an earful of me saying "okay God, please just get me through this stop sign, this stop light, this intersection without it turning off." I can only imagine what I looked like as I was just talking to myself driving. Hey, it's a Monday and my car is bound to shut off at any second, let me be.
Anyways, I thought alot on their reaction today and it made me think about how we all live our lives. Lately I've been trying to pay more attention to how much I complain. One of my friends said to me the other day that complaining isn't going to change anything, you just gotta deal with it. There's a lot of truth in that because as much as I try to be happy and encouraging to those around me, it is really easy to get caught up and start complaining without even realizing it. So that's changed my perspective on a lot of things and my interactions with others. (hence I've decided my goal for lent is to give up complaining!)
If you think about it, how much time do we spend a day complaining about things that happened? I know for me, I hear it more often than not. We take maybe a few minutes a day to talk about the blessings and happy moments on the day, but could dwell for hours on how terrible this or that was, reliving every little detail just to drag out how terrible it was. It's draining and it's such a negative and depressing way to look at life. Think of how much happier we could be if we focused on all of the blessings around us. So you're having car problems? Look at it as an opportunity to spend a few extra minutes as you drive to work with your roommate before the day gets started. So you had to stay extra at work? Maybe that was a huge help to your co-worker who needed to get the task done so he could spend time with his son on his 2nd birthday. You never know the indirect consequences your actions could have on those around you! This verse helps me to attempt to eliminate complaints and motivates me to be thankful in any situation.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
So no matter what you're going through, give thanks with a smile. It'll make them wonder how you're facing your obstacles with such a cheery attitude. Maybe that'll plant a seed that will blossom into you being the reason that someone realizes that difficulties can be faced with a smile because of the help, love and guidance of our Heavenly Father. Sure your day might seem like a joke today and like nothing is going right, but that's God's plan for you for a reason. Maybe He took you down that path so you can be an example to others that it's indeed possible to keep a happy heart even when times are tough and it seems like nothing is going right. Or maybe it's so you can be the light that someone else needs because they too might be having a bad day. Life is going to happen as God has planned, only you can choose how you will react. You can be bitter and discontent all day and ponder on everything that's gone wrong, or you can persevere and be the joy that you wish to see around you.
The next time you're having a rough day, or you get a bad test score, or just anything that is out of line with what you were hoping for, remember.. It's happening for a reason. Take it as it comes, and trust in God's plan. It might not make sense, you might not like it, but in the end, it will help you become a stronger person and mold you into the person you were created to be. God knows everything that has happened and that is going to happen, so when we are faced with anything, good or bad, we can trust that He will be there. He always has been, and He always will be, and that's something to be extra thankful for.
Today marks the first day of Lent.
40 days in which people say they are giving something up. It typically starts out okay, but as the days march on, sometimes it gets harder and harder to maintain our self-discipline in whatever we choose to abstain from. Today a few people asked me what I was going to give up. Well, I didn't exactly have a response because I didn't really know.
When I was younger, I'd go straight for "oh yeah, this year I'm giving up pop and candy.." Again. Like the year before. Now I don't drink pop and I rarely have candy, so what do I turn to? Yes, I get on social media, but I also don't have much time to do that during the day, so I can't say it is something that takes over my life. It'd be nice to do without though, a majority of the websites are full of inappropriate posts or things I could care less about seeing.
I came across an article tonight talking Pope Francis, what he thinks we should give up this year. The article quoted him, and I wanted to share because it's so relevant to anyone that might be reading this, because the world is a dark and oftentimes careless place.
“Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
We tend to get so caught up in our day-to-day schedules that we disregard those around us who might be in pain. Sure, they might have a smile on their face, but if you truly tried to have a conversation with them, you might realize that he just lost a job or that she is struggling with a relationship problem. Our culture has gotten so good at covering things up, with makeup, with overly-positive Facebook posts, with pictures that can be edited to perfection. If we stripped away all of the covering up people try to do, what would we see? My guess is a whole lot of brokeness.
For one of my classes, we have had to take pictures of different objects spelling out a word. As I looked at the word Faith that I created and thought about it more, it reminded me of Pope Francis' quote. We get caught up in our own interests and there isn't any room for others on the narrow, zig-zagging path. We bounce back and fourth around in our lives until we realize how irrational we've been and how badly we need the grace that the Lord so graciously provides to us. So we get back on the straight and narrow, until we fall back into our old ways because it's so easy to go back to past habits and to take the "easy way out."
No matter what we do, who we are, or what we've done, the cross is set in stone. He's there right in the center of the word, between the I and the H, a T, which reminds me of the cross. Between those two letters, brings me to think I Thank Him. Who would I be without Him? Nothing.. A lost girl trying to find her place in this world. What hope would I have? Not much, because I wouldn't have an eternal life to look forward to. But there He is, today and everyday. Waiting with open arms for us all to embrace Him, to see that his love is unfailing and never-ending.
So the cross remains. His love remains, it never fails, and it never gives up. Many days its my strength, my hope, my comfort, and my joy. It's the one thing in life that remains constant, it's the reason I find such joy in the little things in life. I want to feel compassion, I want to be there for those who are in need. I want to do good, and I want to see good overcome all of the sad, broken stories in this world. Jesus died for me and for all of us on the cross. He knew we'd always be sinners, we were sinners when He died for us, yet He still gave His life for us.
So what do we have to lose by giving love to those who need it the most? We don't have to necessarily give something up, but maybe we can take a step back and give up the way we've been living and treating others. Maybe we can focus on doing little things for someone each day- a smile, a note, a hug, a nice text. We won't see any change around us if we aren't willing to feel the need to help others. Let your guard down, let your hearts be softened, and let us change the world one person at a time during these 40 days of Lent.
365 days. It seems like so many, yet flew by in the blink of an eye. If I've learned one thing over the past year, it's that any phone call in the morning or late at night from my parents is not a good thing. That night was one of those nights.
As I sat on the recliner, I felt so empty. However since then, I've learned that the pain does hurt, but it does get easier. It's more comforting to remember all of the happy times together because the memories will always be here, and you'll always be up above watching down over us all. There are some people we are blessed with in this life for only a short period of time, and some long periods, and only God can determine which it will be.
I remember the last time I saw you during the summer, the conversation we had and your big hugs. I've replayed a million times the day when you were dropping something off at my grandparents house and I happened to be there. I stood by your car window and talked with you for awhile, and as you were leaving, you gave me a hug and kissed my cheek and told me that you loved me.
Time can't erase any of the wonderful memories and life lessons I've learned from you growing up. You were a man so strong in your faith who always reminded me how believe in myself. ".. If you don't believe in yourself, then why should anyone else?" If life gets tough, I just remind myself of that little saying.
At your funeral, they read the starfish story. I have it on my desk in my room and at work, and look at it often. I want to share it with whoever is reading this, because it's a story that can make you think about the impact you can have on others lives, even if it doesn't seem like you are doing anything.
While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”
So, find your starfish, embrace difficulties, and make a difference in some way. We don't know how long we will be here, nothing in this life is our own and you never know when God will need something back that He's so graciously given to you.
We always want more time, but sometimes there's nothing we can do about it. Take a look around and tell those around you that you appreciate them, that you love them, that you're thankful for them. Things can change in the blink of an eye, and as I've learned the past year, it doesn't matter what stage of life you are in. Old and young, our time can come at any moment. When you go about your day, think of what you're doing. The world is in a scary place, and it needs people like you to make a difference in it every single day.
Find your starfish, and make a difference.