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Archive for the ‘Food for thought’ Category

I feel like I write these type of posts a lot, so if you still read them, either I am not alone in the world of figuring oneself out or you are really bored.

All of you who have been around awhile or read previous posts know that I am the type to constantly push myself. I always have a goal I am reaching for and always trying to arrange my life around those goals, working towards it. I think I’ve talked a few times before about discouragement and trying to figure out precisely what I want and all that. Well, one thing I don’t think I’ve really mentioned is my constant struggle for joy. Not to say I have been unhappy – I am quite happy- but you know that settled feeling in your soul that just says you are at peace, even if you are striving toward something? I haven’t had that except once in a great while in a very long time, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.

I have, relatively speaking, a perfect life. It hasn’t always been this way, as anyone who knows my past can attest to – and some people see my life now and tell me that I deserve it after all I’ve been through – I know better than that. I deserve nothing and am therefore grateful that for some reason God has seen fit to give me such a good life right now. I am also under no misconceptions that it will last forever. Why, then, do I have such difficulty settling and enjoying this current life instead of constantly looking and striving forward as though I’m waiting for something more before I can really enjoy the life I’ve been given?

I worked between 10 and 14 hours every day Sunday – Tuesday this week on an exercise down in Florida. Consequently, I was able to take most of Wednesday to relax on the beach before working another 12 hour day on Thursday. I found myself looking out over the ocean in a contemplative mood on the very subject I mentioned above. So, I decided to go for a walk and talk it out with God. This time, however, I decided not to just concentrate on the writing aspect or the job aspect or whatever other aspect – I decided it was time to go through my life in detail with God to ferret out the reason for my inability to be joyful instead of impatient in my current status of life.

As tempting as it is, I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of the conversation – it was very minutia oriented, which, after all, turned out to be what I needed. God and I discussed what I thought I wanted out of life vs. what God wants out of my life, and then we talked through my writing life and whether I had the right point of view on it, my current job, why I wanted to go into Counterintelligence, and if I actually wanted to go into it, or if I just wanted the glory of saying I was a CI analyst, and where I was right now in life vs. where I thought I wanted to be.

Below are what I feel the conclusions of the conversation were:

  1. God may have a different plan for my life than I think He does and my being stuck on a certain career path could inhibit what He wants to do in my life. Though it is good to have goals in life, the issue comes in when you insist on those goals remaining the same.
  2. My thinking I cannot have a writing career unless I concentrate on it full-time is a product of fear and procrastination and assumes God cannot give me the capacity for more than one task at a time.
  3. It is possible – not for sure, but possible – that God gave me the desire to go into CI precisely to get me where I am today. I love my job, my company, my coworkers, and my job location – why am I so eager to move on? What happens if I concentrate on doing the best I can with where God currently has me instead of not giving it my all because I think it won’t get me where I think I want to go? God can use me in this current capacity and if I assume this isn’t where I need to be, I may miss what else He has planned for me.

Ultimately, and it can be difficult to put into words, but ultimately: Instead of striving forward constantly, I am making a goal to be happy where I am. I still have goals, but realize that God may have different goals for me. I am going to enjoy my current life and not feel guilty every time I am spending time with my husband instead of writing or feeling guilty for not working on writing an article because I don’t feel like it or not working on something CI related because I don’t want to. I am going to strive to be the best in my current capacity (which is, after all, a Senior Analyst, which is a huge part of what I wanted out of my career) and assume that, as He always does, God will clearly open a door when it is time for me to move on to something else He has planned for me. I am going to continue writing on a regular basis, but not feel guilty when I don’t have time for it because I am taking joy in the life God has currently granted me. I am going to assume that God will allow me to be published in His perfect timing, not mine.

Implementing the pattern of thought that it is not a sin for me to not constantly be doing something educational or working toward one of my goals has already done an incredible part in putting my heart at peace. Despite being sick, I enjoyed a very relaxing weekend at home with my husband, and read two books, without any guilty thoughts on needing to write or needing to practice Russian. I healed significantly faster than usual from my cold and did not wake up today with the thought that I didn’t want to go to work.

I want to be clear that I still think it is good and healthy to have goals you strive toward. The secret I am learning, with God’s help, is being at peace and joyful where you are while you work toward them, and being flexible enough to realize that God may direct those goals elsewhere and, for God, there is no time limit. He’ll bring you there when He knows you are ready.

We so often concentrate on the trials aspect of Philippians 4 and being content. For some of us, it is in times of plenty that we get lost.

Philippians 4:6-7, 12-13

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. . .  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

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Is it just me or does anyone else find themselves, during quiet times, thinking back over their lives, dwelling on the various times they made mistakes, said something stupid, did something stupid, or, worse, got in trouble for something? This is a particular weakness of mine. I will be minding my own business, and randomly, my brain calls back to my memory some painful or embarrassing time/moment that makes me squirm with discomfort – That time a senior student told me I needed to place more of a priority on a project I was working on for her. That time I was 7 years old and didn’t stop my friend from lying to her mother about whether or not we had eaten breakfast – and – even worse – went along with the lie. That time I asked my now-husband-then-friend to the school’s Sadie Hawkin’s dance after saying that I didn’t think girls should ask guys to dances because they would feel compelled to say yes, and, as he told me later, sure enough, he just didn’t know how to say no. And the most horrible memory of all – that time I didn’t pay the rent on time because I was out of a job and the landlord (a friend’s father) got angry with me and “uninvited me” to their party for July 4th. I was the only girl in our group of friends who didn’t get to go.

Yes, every single misstep or mistake I made in my life is branded in my memory, and no matter how young I was or how well-intentioned I was, I still shudder and get a churning stomach when I think of them. Apparently there are people who can forget their mistakes. And/Or, ask God to forgive them, and move on. I am not one of those. Whether or not I think God has forgiven me, I have a terrible time forgiving myself. I have to be careful not to wander in the past too long, because I get very downhearted and ashamed of all the stumbles, small or large, I have made in my life.

Those quotes about how failure is a precursor to success? My brain agrees, and even understands. The rest of me, however, just crumples up into a tiny ball at failure.

I have been feeling more and more convicted lately that it is time to move on. That I have to stop living in the past and look forward to the future, to learning and moving on. That I actually have to take God serious when He says He forgives me, and when Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” When I delve into past missteps, I tend to find myself living as though whatever I was thinking about was a recent mistake, that I can’t do anything right and might as well not even try, and as long as I just stick to myself and never talk, maybe I will never say or do anything stupid again.

Another verse I find very encouraging, yet hard to put into practice, is Philippians 3:13b – 14: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So, as I find it more and more impressed in myself to let go of the past, during the frequent times I find my mind recalled to a past mistake, whether or not related to something I am currently working on, I have begun to pray that God would take it from me, that He would help me forgive myself and move on, that I stop dwelling on the past.

I think it will improve quality of life – and I don’t believe God ever intended us to let the past keep us from pressing on and moving up – that is why He offers forgiveness. Living in the past is a dangerous habit. I can attest from experience, dwelling on the past beyond learning from your mistakes can prevent you from doing your best in other portions of your life – fear of failure is a powerful force that can weigh you down instead of causing you to put your all in something. And worst of all, it can cause depression where there is no need for it – because if you have learned from a mistake and moved on, you should be rejoicing that you have another building block on your road to success. How’s that for preaching to myself? 😛

Anyway, those are just my random thoughts on living in the past, while I face yet another issue in my life that God is graciously working with me on.

you-past-mistakes-are-meant-to-guide-you-not-define-you

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Childhood

Everyone has an ideal childhood in their imaginations. Does anyone in real life? Sometimes I wonder how many people are hiding things from their past. From their childhood. I know there is this new trend where people blame all their problems on childhood. My parents always warned me not to fall for that trap. If you had a problem it was something you needed to take care of without trying to find someone or something else to blame it on. I agree with them, in one way – but sometimes I think that this new “trend” is accurate in some ways. One’s childhood – one’s past – does affect one’s current life. Sometimes it is based on decisions made by the individual himself, sometimes decisions made by his parents.

I still fear some things, still shudder when I hear certain sounds, still love certain scenes because of things from my past. I make decisions today based on my experiences from the past. Either good or bad. Who I am, who I have become today, is influenced directly by my childhood, my experiences, my memories associated with it. I love tea because I associate it with friends, relaxation in a busy time, and the books that kept me company in the woods when I lived with my dreams. I panic when I watch psychological movies (a.k.a. A Beautiful Mind) because I’ve seen my father go through hallucinations in real life, and it was frightening. I became interested in government because of stories about homeschoolers becoming persecuted–homeschoolers like me. I hate working in healthcare because I’ve worked in it for years with a disabled father and needing to make money for my family. Who you become is directly influenced by your past. Problems you need to work through are often associated with childhood for a reason.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that problems should be blamed on your parents, or past events, and then left to rest  on someone else’s shoulders. It doesn’t mean that you should become angry or bitter or decide nothing can be done because of it. No matter what a memory, a problem, anything, stems from, it becomes yours to deal with or not deal with. If you choose to become bitter over something, God in the end will ask you about it, not the event over which you became bitter, because you decided not to do anything about it. We have a God who has offered, actually volunteered, to take on our problems, our bad memories, our bitterness. Whether or not we take Him up on that offer is up to us.

So in the end, we can’t blame things on the past or on a bad childhood – because no matter where it stemmed from, it is our choice whether or not it is dealt with now.

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