I was feeding Joel (do I do anything else?!) and this thought came to mind:
"How are you treating life today?"
I know the phrase is (in)correctly, "How is life treating you?" but really... are your days determined by cosmic forces and how someone else is driving their SUV when you're in a hurry... or are you responsible? I know it's easier to not be the responsible party and it makes you feel a lot more warm and fuzzy to not foot the bill. But really. Come on, now. Is life what you make it or is it just determined by a random set of numbers? A round of BINGO? You've either got the number or you don't. And if you don't, well, sorry. Your life is pointless and wrecked. We're sorry.
There's nothing like seeing loved ones either go through a near death experience or being presented with bad news to cause you to revaluate your time and how you use it. Do you squander or do you invest? Do you throw too many pity parties complete with streamers and matching paper plates and cupcakes mixed with poisoned tears and invite everyone and their cousin to join in? Come on. Be honest. Is life what happens to you or is it what you make it? You know, not to be totally cliche, but lemons and lemonade.
I think we are, as a whole, very, very spoiled. I think we're rotten. I think we think it's "all about me". I think it's very easy to be indulgent, to be a brat, to be selfish. Of course it is. It's quite another story to step back, take stock and shave off the areas of self, of your life, that are less than fruitful. It's a tough thing to be productively self-reflective.
It's easy to focus on all that is going wrong. To be the martyr. To play the victim. I am not discounting pain. Really, really hurtful and scary things happen to you and to me. My husband and I are big fans of a show that depicts how people have allowed a crisis in their life to dictate how they live. Instead of it making them better, it turns them manic and they cling to stuff and fill their homes with trash. They allow what happened to become an addiction. They don't let it go. They don't deal with it. They keep bringing it up, talking about it, focusing on it... but they don't deal with it. They don't give it up. They let it kill them.
My Mom has said more than once, "Get off the cross, someone needs the wood!" in terms of viewing someone's supposed martyrdom. There are people with real problems, to be sure, but I think that for the majority of us, we like to make things worse than they are. Embellish a little. Add some drama. Some flair. Gain some sympathy votes. And if we're so focused on our petty little problems, we might miss the opportunity to truly be what someone who is really suffering needs.
I once went through a really difficult breakup. It was hard on my heart and on my health - I dropped about twenty pounds seemingly overnight. I was distraught. I couldn't think, I couldn't work, I couldn't eat. And I couldn't stop crying. I felt embarrassed and humiliated. I had put myself out there for the world to see, heart on my sleeve, dreams in my eyes. And it was over. Just like that. And I felt ruined. Kind of thought I was. And a good friend told me at the time, "We are more than the men we love." Amen, sister.
And that applies to everything. We are more than what happens to us. We are more than the test results. More than the divorce, the dysfunctional family, the crummy job. And you can either recognize that and live intentionally, or you can let what happens to you become your life, your god. You can hold it close and keep it tight and let it control how you step out and move forward. But you won't really move forward, because you'll be chained. You're in bondage.
Life is a gift and you can either treat it as such or you can treat it like a death sentence. You can let what happens or what others say to define you, control you - or you can choose boundaries and health and faith. I've lived both ways at different times in my life. I've been a complete train wreck and I've also been in very difficult times, but have had amazing peace, too. It's a no brainer to figure out which way makes life a whole lot better. And it's not dependent on what the circumstance is... just what my response is to the raw deal.
So, tell me... how are you treating life today?
"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD,
choose this day whom you will serve..."
~ Joshua 24:15a