There's an old-school song that has a line, "I've got peace like a river, I've peace like a river, I've got peace like a river in my soul." The tune carries on to "love like an ocean," and "joy like a fountain." This tune, when it gets in your head is pretty hard to get out. It has always seemed funny that peace is likened to a river in this song. To me, peace is more like a placid lake than a swiftly moving river. The metaphor is one that I have never quite understood.
I don't claim to be there quite yet, but I am certainly at a level of peace I have not been in quite some time.
It is amazing what cutting some things out, and focusing on one day at a time, one situation at a time, one person at a time, and really really really getting back to basics will do.
My schedule has never been so free of committments in months, maybe years. I am OK with that, where in the past it wouldn't have been. I had spent so much time making those committments my identity and significance, to have nothing there would have meant a blow to me. In fact, there are some invitations to things I have *turned down* because honestly, going to that event would have been for those same wrong reasons. In the past I would have shown up to any and all event I was invited out of fear. In the place of some of those committments I have been doing some things differently:
I have been re-connecting with friends I have not connected with in a looooong time. And, I am doing it with no expectations and no agenda and with a joy at them being in my life like I have not had before. It feels great. Some of these people are in very different situations in life than I am, and in the past I would have just thought that meant we couldn't spend time together. Sure, it looks different, and in some cases it means we are skyping instead of meeting face-to-face, but I am re-discovering what it means to be a friend. I have been so focused on my own pain these last few years, that I have put myself first and expected others to come to my rescue. It feels good to get back to some sense of what it really means to be *me* in friendships.
I have been re-discovering things that bring me life. I have been baking a lot, which I used to love to do but never had time. I have been reading more. I have time to exercise because fitting it in amongst my schedule isn't as hard. I have started couponing (after taking a class) because it is such an easy way to save money. I have contemplated taking a language class at TCC because I have always wanted to learn a foreign language. I have contemplated taking an international trip JUST TO DO IT, because I love traveling. I went to Illinois to visit my brother and his family because I love them so much, and for no other reason than to just go.
I have been getting back to basics on loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving my neighbor as myself. I have started downloading podcasts onto my iPod and listening to sermons when I run. I have fallen in love with this! It is amazing to me how much easier my runs are when I am concentrating on something! My favorite to listen to is Joyce Meyers right now. She's full of depth and wisdom, but super funny too. I even play podcasts on my way into work sometimes. Granted this drive is only 15 minutes, but it has put me into a different frame of mind at work. I have started taking notes during sermons at church again, something I used to do, but had gotten out of the habit with over the last few years. There is more work in this area, but my Word intake is better than it's been in quite some time.
The "love your neighbor as yourself" part of that verse is a harder one for me right now. Serving has always been wired in me. However, I am pausing on serving in a formal ministry capacity right now. So, I am re-digging into loving those around me and those right in front of me. Again, this is pretty basic, but something I am re-discovering. I suspect at some point I will be involved in a formal ministry again, but I am trusting the Lord to do it and to show me when and where to do this again.
I read a blog from a friend who is going through a rough season as well and I am going to post an exerpt from her blog because I think it says a lot about where I have been over the last few years and the reasons I have been so honest in my posts.
"I know that the brutal honesty in my blogging opens the door for people to form opinions, be critical of where I am at, and share their "advice." But I HAVE to chronicle the reality of where I'm at now so that I can look back later and see the full picture. I KNOW that redemption will come. I KNOW that my heart will heal and I will be able to pour myself whole-heartedly into the next foster child that walks through our door. I want to be able to say "look what the Lord has done!" And in order for that to happen, it is only fair to chronicle what He is GOING to pull us out of! :) He will not leave this process unfinished. I know that He will not allow me to flop around like a fish outta' water for long. He WILL restore our hearts and I WILL boast of His grace to our family. Is He trying to bring me to an even greater place of desperation and dependence on Him? Yup. Do unfortunate things just happen sometimes because of the world we live in? Yes. Do we ever see the full picture in the midst of challenging circumstances? Unlikely. Do our hearts hurt sometimes? Um, yes."
I am so grateful for the rocky season I've been in because it has taught me so much that I know that I know that I know I would never have learned any other way. The lesson isn't fully over yet, but I am more hopeful now than ever before.