Archive for January, 2016

Blizzards and Contentment and Trust

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

BlizzardwithCardinal

We had a blizzard last week. I live in the DC area — you might have heard.

I find with a blizzard, people tend to either love it or hate it. I LOVED it!

We had plenty of warning — so my workplace at the library was closed on Friday just in time for me to get home just as the flakes were beginning to fall. Then they continued to fall — extremely thickly — for the next more than 30 hours.

The area isn’t prepared for such a rare event. With 30 hours of heavily falling snow and more than 2 feet of snow on the ground, this did break records. So besides the weekend, when I hadn’t been scheduled to work (but all activities were cancelled), I got Monday and Tuesday off work.

Snow days are gifts of time. Plans get cancelled, and you get to take time out of your routine. This time, for the first time in four years on a snow day, I had my son (newly graduated from college) home with me, so I wasn’t all alone.

After the blizzard ended, on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I went for a walk through the snow. It was incredible! I love to walk around my lake on a sunny day, but this was a whole new adventure and each day was different.

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Mind you, each excursion was so much work, I’d then wipe out my afternoon by taking a nap to recover. There was a part of me that thought I should “use” the time. But it was so worth it.

And I’ve felt good! All my life, I’ve been plagued by headaches — until recently and “the change” — and I haven’t had a headache all month! Not even going out in the cold and snow! Not even with major weather fronts coming through! This all still feels miraculous and wonderful.

And I got time to work on my website and add cool math stuff, and I have a manuscript being considered by an editor, and I’m doing things at work (when we’re open) that make me happy, and life is just very good. And did I mention I got to walk in the snow this week?!!! (And it was so cool!!!)

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All this boils down to — I have been Happy lately. Very Happy and Content.

So I’ve been thinking about Contentment in the context of trust. And, yes, in the context of singleness.

One of those prayer requests I mentioned in my post last month? I’d like to find a new life partner.

But this past week, I’ve been happy and content in the here and now — and I think that helps me to trust.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us present our requests to God with thanksgiving — and the result will be peace.

I’ve found this week that it helps me trust that God will bring me good in the future if I focus on how much good God has given me in the present.

I do realize there’s a balance. You want to be content — but you don’t want to be complacent. You want to be thankful for the present, but you don’t want to fail to grow as a person.

For example, I had a wonderful time in the snow. I have a garage and only one car, and I live in a condo which hires a company to clear snow — so I didn’t have to do any shoveling. I was happy about that, maybe too happy — I didn’t help my neighbors much. (In my defense, I’m not really supposed to carry heavy loads since my vertebral artery dissection and stroke four years ago. But that wasn’t really my motivation.)

In the example of looking for a new life partner, it’s good to be content — but how much should I be putting myself out there, looking online or going to meetups? If I happily become a hermit, is my trust in God expecting Him to do a miracle and bring someone into my shell? I do think there’s a balance.

I’ve had a small personal breakthrough in the past few years. I feel like I’ve come a long way in forgiving my ex-husband, and I have friends again who are men — from a variety of settings. I admit, I had generalized some of my anger and was leaning toward the “Men are skunks” view. (It was interesting recently. Something came up that had me shaking my head about “men” — and I was able to trace it back to a specific incident where I was still angry with my ex-husband. Once I took that out and looked at it and did some forgiveness work — it also took out the generalized anger.) And it’s so nice to get past that, and men add something to my life. (Mind you, my girlfriends have ALWAYS been there for me and are the ones who helped me even survive my divorce. But there was a gap in my life.)

There’s a balance in that, too. All these men I’m friends with are either married or for some other reason not an appropriate life partner for me. And it’s easy, in a low moment, to get discouraged by that fact. To jump to the conclusion that it will be impossible to find a nice single Christian man appropriate for me and even God can’t pull it off and start feeling sorry for myself.

But choosing contentment — I can see how those friendships enrich my life and even add male companionship (in a friendly way), which I was missing and does me good. And instead of stressing about the fact that these men aren’t ever going to marry me, I can find a whole lot of joy in what they do bring to my life.

Just yesterday, my sister posted an amazing poem that reaffirmed this idea for me.

We may always love, but we may not always serve.

This also applies to my ex-husband. I had to come to the place where I can love him — yet release him and go on with my life, not wanting to be married to him again. To remember the good, but accept that this is past. If I’ve truly forgiven him, I can still love him and wish him well. But I have had to accept that there is no longer any way I can serve him. (In the past, when I would try to do something nice for him, he definitely didn’t take it in the spirit it was offered.)

I had to see that wanting to serve someone has a selfish side. Can I be happy that so many of my men friends have beautiful relationships with their wives — exactly the sort of relationship I’d like to have with someone?

Well, the answer is that — when I’m content, I can.

And when I’m content, it’s easier to trust that God is going to take care of the future.

And when I’m content, it’s even easier to brush up that online profile and do a little looking. But also not be too horribly disappointed when that man with the interesting profile never answers my message.

It’s all a dance.

I was talking with my son today about being a rule-follower (which I am). He says he likes it when there are clear processes. (Looking for a job after college is not a clear process!)

I think the path of trust is also like that. Not a clear process. A place that needs balance. You want to be content but not complacent.

And then, every now and then, you get a wonderful gift of a Blizzard!

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New Year’s Prayer Requests

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Happy New Year!

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I saw two swans swimming on my lake, so I’ll open with swans.

Swans

I don’t exactly do New Year’s Resolutions. But I do like to make New Year’s Goals — measurable, definite plans. I like to make seven.

Last year, I accomplished exactly half my goals. Exactly half because I’d split one into two parts and did one of the parts. And got three others done.

For example, this year I’m borrowing an earlier year’s goal. One year a few years ago, I really did work on a book for a half-hour per day every day of the year. This year, I want to focus on that again. I’m going to modify it slightly and set a goal of working on a book three hours per week.

I’m going to try to do it every week, but even if I miss a week or two, this sets my intention for what I want to do.

I also like to choose a Theme for the year and a Verse for the year.

This coming year will be my first tax year with no dependents other than myself (if all goes well). This brings up many issues about meaning and purpose. I wonder what God’s doing in my life and why He brought me down this path.

I had started feeling Anxious and I know the road to Peace from Philippians 4:6-7 — “Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds, in Christ Jesus.”

Thinking about that verse gave me an idea to come up with seven 2016 Prayer Requests.

Instead of me trying to do things, I’ll be asking God to do things!

When I say 2016 Prayer Requests — I’m not necessarily asking God to complete these things in 2016. But I’m planning to pray these requests every day of 2016. These are the desires of my heart. I plan to present them with thanksgiving. And be comforted to know that God is working on them.

Some of them are related to a goal. For example, one prayer request is that I get a book published. My part is to plan to work on a book for three hours per week every week this year. But I have no control over whether I get published or not. I’m going to ask God to work on that part!

And making the request will keep me going on my part. After all, it doesn’t make sense to pray to get a book published and never write or submit one.

Another example is related to my debt. I have way too much of it, and blame my divorce for most of that. But my divorce is long over, and I want to dig my way out. If I pray and ask God that I will get out of debt, it will help motivate me to meet the goals I’ve made to pay down that debt by a certain amount this year.

Four of the requests are that sort of thing. You might call them selfish, but I’m thinking of it as knowing the desires of my heart and bringing them before the Lord.

One request is that my two kids will find meaningful and well-paid work!

I thought I’d make the final two requests more general, trying to keep me where I want to be: First, I’m going to ask God to continue to guide me this year and that I will follow His leading. Second, I’m going to ask God to help me touch lives.

And the Theme and Verse this year? TRUST. I’m placing my requests before God, and now I want to trust Him.

Psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. Selah

Jeremiah 17:7-8

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

I like the idea, though, that I am looking forward to what God will do in the New Year.