Saturday, July 16, 2011
Last week, we had a day or two of pretty bad storms. High winds, tornado touchdowns, dark skies, rain, sirens everywhere, lightning, hail, plague of locusts. Okay, well, perhaps not the latter, but all the rest of them were certainly present. Our back yard had a huge branch (the size of a tree, really) break off and come within inches of demolishing part of our chain-link fence. Steve and his dad took care of it, and our daughter did a lot of clean up of branches. Our stick pile looks like someone employed deforestation on the 100-Acre-Wood. But it does give me hopes of an excellent bonfire sometime soon. If I get time. Or maybe it'll just keep piling up until it blocks the sun and our A/C won't have to work as hard. Another silver lining, hmm? (By the way, this storm damage picture is NOT of our backyard, it just looked like a good way to demonstrate my meaning today.)
I relaxed for precisely one hour yesterday, laying in the sun in my new (to me) bathing suit over at Uncle Galen's house at the end of the cul-de-sac with Aria. I love the sunshine when I'm doing nothing in it but laying there. I'm finally starting to get a bit of a tan. It takes me forever because if I try to do it for more than a few minutes per side, I burn to a crisp. I've built up my tolerance a bit, it appears. I wish I could get an even tan in the real sun. I'm not about to pay for tanning inside somewhere just to even out my tan. That's like buying bottled water when you can get it out of the tap for free. Oh... wait. I do that.
Anyhow, I digress. The storm damage got me thinking about my life. About life in general, I suppose. Look at all of these cities that have been completely ravaged by storms, typhoons, earthquakes, cyclones. People come together to help out other people. They rebuild after their devastation. And, through their grief and sadness, they make connections and most people who are interviewed later say that it made them stronger. It's no different from our day-to-day lives. We experienced trauma: a break-up, a car accident, the death of a loved one, an infidelity. We grieve, heartily and fiercely. We are wrecked. We are consumed with agony, physical and/or emotional. And then we learn how to rebuild. People come together to help us if we seek them (and sometimes when we don't). We get support. We learn from our mistakes. We learn healthy coping mechanisms, and we learn what to do and what not to do in the future. Storm damage makes us stronger.
I swear, if I get any stronger, I'm going to be unbreakable.
I'm tired of being consumed by my anxieties. Worrying about whether something bad is going to happen has never once prevented it from happening, or made me feel better when it did or did not happen. There's no point in devoting my life to fear of the future, because I'm ruining my present by doing so. I'm halting my own ability to grow and mature by wallowing in self-pity every time something happens that I don't like. I know I'm not the only one who does this, and believe me, I understand the mindset behind it because I've lived this way for so long. But my husband (who, don't tell him I said this, is a wiser person than I) has this Take-It-Day-By-Day outlook that I've never seemed to master. It's Biblical, too -- Jesus taught us to pray for our Daily Bread, right? Not for a feast next week to make us forget all the ramen noodles we have to eat this week. This day's suffering is sufficient for this day, so we shouldn't be concerned about what's going to happen tomorrow. Just get us through THIS day, THIS trial. Help us to find hope and faith and positivity.
And what about a positive outlook? Though I don't believe that praying specifically for something is going to make that something occur if God doesn't want it to occur, I do think there's some merit to remaining positive throughout our trials because positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity. If I'm in a bad mood all the time, I'm only going to bring down everyone around me. If, in the midst of my bad mood, I focus on the positives, then not only is it better for the people that surround me, also more positive people will want to BE around me, therein helping to elevate my own mood. Everyone's life becomes cyclical, a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will. And it's all in my choices. If I choose to be negative, wallow in my own self-pity, and live in fear and anxiety each day, then I'm not opening myself up to happiness and therefore, happiness will not find me because I've shut it out. If, instead, I bear whatever burdens the day carries but live with hope in my heart that tomorrow will be better, put a smile on my face and face the world with a "BRING IT ON" attitude, laugh in the face of negativity, and find joy in the good things, no matter how small they are, then I'm allowing happiness to dwell within me. Then it will be much more likely that things will begin to look up.
When I put it like that, it's not really much of a choice, is it? Why would anyone choose to stay negative? I'll grant you, it's easier to stay negative in this world because there are so many others who will tell you (or at least imply to you) that you are not good enough, that you are worthless, that there is no joy, that love is a fairytale, that life is pain. But the world has enough of those people, right? So why be another one?
This is what Jesus meant when he told us to be the light of the world. It's full of darkness already. The people who call themselves "Christians" that are condemning other people, judging them, being hypocritical -- they're not being the light of the world. They're just multiplying the darkness exponentially. The 'salt of the Earth' metaphor applies just as well. Food tastes good with some salt. If you open the saltshaker and dump it on your steak, you've ruined your steak. But a little light, a little salt, here and there... that makes everything better.
There's my pep talk to myself for the day.
Time to rebuild from the storm.