Just For Now

Emily P. Freeman recently shared on Instagram that she is “back to the habit of reading one chapter a day…for now.”

I stopped and thought about that for a bit. Two little words tacked on, but they make all the difference.

“For now.”

Big commitments feel harder than normal right now, because there is so much uncertainty. But we could commit to some things “for now”.

And hard things become more bearable if we tack on a “for now”. Life during a pandemic feels tough, because things are just heavy…for now.

It’s a simple little reminder that although we are going through something that’s hard, or stressful, or sad, it won’t be this way forever.

Or it’s a way of offering ourselves grace to change our minds if we realize that things need to change in order to be sustainable – we’re only doing it for now. Later on, things might look different, so we will leave room for course corrections.

I’m not saying our word shouldn’t stand for anything anymore, but I am saying that in these strange times, maybe we need a bit more grace than what we’ve offered ourselves in the past.

I tried it out a few different ways today, and it felt really good:

I’ve been dealing with adrenal fatigue for a few months, and I don’t have my usual amount of energy…for now.

I’ve had to give up strenuous exercise (Farewell, my beautiful 8 minute plank that took years and years of work to accomplish!!!😭), so I’m taking things slower…for now.

Because my health has to be a priority, our house can get messier than I’d like it to be….for now.

But there are new things coming in the future. I will have more energy again at some point, but for now, I don’t need to worry about all the things I can’t do.

The days are getting shorter, and things may feel a bit dark and dreary…for now.

Everyone is tired of masks, social distancing, and all the stress. We feel like everything is just hard and heavy and weird…for now. But it will change.

For anyone who is feeling bogged down, let’s remember – it’s just for now.

For anyone who feels unsure about how consistent we can be about anything this winter, maybe it’s easier to determine what we can manage just for now.

I like to play around with words – sometimes a new way of wording things can change it up just enough to give a fresh burst of insight, enthusiasm, energy, or creativity. For now.🙂

Is there anything in your life that needs a little shift in time frame perspective? What are you dealing with, for now?

Struggling to Life

My body hurts.

As I’ve shared before, I’m going through the painful process of strengthening my weak muscles which were injured from having babies. According to my therapist, this strengthening phase is exciting progress and I’m doing well, but unfortunately, when it comes to exercise, “doing well” can actually be really painful. These creaky muscles are being challenged to do things they’re not used to doing, and there’s no easy, fast way around that.

The good news is that I’ve been at this long enough to start experiencing some of the benefits. Although I hurt all the time, I can feel certain movements getting easier, and am noticing how my body feels stronger, which is outrageously exciting.:)

But sometimes, I just get tired of hurting. On one of those days, some dear friends were praying for me and the pain I’ve been trying to push through. One  friend said, “It’s like a butterfly trying to get out of it’s cocoon – you’re struggling to life!”

That resonated deeply with me, because years ago, I read about a man watching a butterfly struggling out of a cocoon. After a long while, he couldn’t stand watching helplessly, so he carefully cut the cocoon and instantly freed the butterfly. But what he didn’t realize was how necessary the struggle was – the butterfly lay there, unable to fly, because the fight to be free was what strengthened its wings.

The struggle is necessary and life-giving.

Our culture is all about instant gratification, but the struggle to true strength and health does not come instantly. I really wish it did. I’ve prayed for a miracle for years. I believe God could heal me instantly, and this would be convenient and awesome. But one day, as I was asking God to take all the pain away in a moment, it became clear to me that I was asking Him for something I could really do myself.

God made my body to work well. There is nothing permanently broken in my body – there’s just a lot of weakness and muscles out of balance. And while I know He could fix it all in an instant, I also know that I could get my butt off the couch, and go use my muscles the way God intended me to use them.

I still ask Him to take the pain away, but I also ask Him to give me the strength to push through this season of pain and struggle. I ask Him to help my body work the way He made it to.

I’ve lived with pain for so many years, I don’t remember what it’s like not to have it. Right now, though, the pain I’m experiencing is different – before I hurt because I was weak and my body was not working right. Now I hurt because I’m getting stronger and pushing myself to new levels. Totally different kind of pain! Can we call it “exciting pain”?! The pain of progress? A friend suggested I find a new word for “pain”, just to remind myself how this present pain is different from the old pain. I like this idea, but I’m still working on finding the right word!

For on the days when I get discouraged, and wish this was all a lot easier, I’ve been putting together a little collection of quotes. Since I’m doing a lot of squats these days, I found it fairly amusing to come across this quote: “No sweat, no beauty. No squat, no booty.” When I shared this with Ben, he said, “That’s my life  motto, really….”

Here are a few of my other favorites, in case you are also in need of a little inspiration!

Hopesource

Strugglesource

Weaknesssource

Changesource

And when I can’t make it seem pretty or inspirational anymore, and I’m just down to pure desperation, there’s always this one:

Pukesource

 Anything you’re struggling through right now? What’s your motivation to keep going?

Beautiful People

I came across this in Blogland yesterday, and loved it.

found here

It made me remember the Christmas my first boyfriend dumped me.

His present was wrapped and waiting under the Christmas tree, but when he came home from college, he never called.

I remember going to church on Christmas eve, and feeling like I hated the girl who said to me, “Oh, well, there are plenty of other fish in the sea!”

Like I was looking for quantity.

When we got home, my mom told me she had talked with two of her friends about the disappointment I was going through. They both promised to pray for me.

My mom said, “And they’re the kind of ladies who really know how to pray!”

Both of them had experienced great suffering and disappointment in their own lives. My little break-up wasn’t a big deal compared to the things they had weathered, and yet they didn’t treat it as small.

And you know what? It wasn’t.

Because that is the night I went to my room and thought good and hard about what I wanted the rest of my life to be like.

I thought about those women, strong, caring, prayer warriors, and I knew I wanted to be like them when I was older.

But I also knew that night what it would take to get there – it was their hardships that had made them strong. Rough winds had taught them how to bend without breaking, and their roots went down deep.

That night, I knew what I wanted did not come cheap or easy…but I knew, without a doubt, I wanted it anyway.

I knelt by my bed, and I prayed that God would give me depth. That He would teach me how to be strong and true, no matter what life brought my way. Or maybe because of what life brought my way.

And although it scared me like crazy, I asked Him to do whatever it took to teach me to be like those women. I was young, and maybe I didn’t fully understand what I was praying, but I definitely had a glimpse that night, with my broken heart and my desperate hunger for more of Jesus.

It’s funny, because I do not desire hard or difficult things to come into my life, but I crave the growth that happens. It seems as though some growth can only happen along with the pain – pruning is followed by new life.

You can see it in people, can’t you? You know when you’re with someone who has been through the depths. How true it is that beautiful people don’t just happen.

Jesus happens to them. And they choose Him, over and over again, no matter what they suffer, because they know it’s not about this life anyway. They choose joy, because experience has taught them that pain can always be followed by something wonderful.

I want to be like that!

If You’re Trying to Change a Habit…

As promised in my last blog post, I am here today to tell you about the little secret I’ve learned to living a worry-free life.

It’s actually not a “secret”, because I’ve heard it a million times before. I just didn’t fully understand what it was supposed to look like in real life. Thank goodness for Elizabeth George and her fantastic explanation which finally made things hit home for me.

She writes a lot about this verse:

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. (Matthew 6:34 )

That verse has never been a comfort to me – each day has enough trouble of it’s own? It sounds like each day is so full of trouble that there will always be lots to worry about. I’ll be mentally busy for the rest of my life…

So I have always just ignored that verse, and worried about whatever I chose to worry about.

But what Elizabeth George writes about in her book, Loving God With All Your Mind, is that this is a command from God. All that we’re allowed to think about is today. He doesn’t want us filling our minds with worries and concerns about the future. He wants us to trust Him, and live today.

Do you know how many thoughts are eliminated by only thinking about today?

That means no thoughts about mistakes I’ve made in the past, and no thoughts about annoying things other people said or did. And it means no fears about the future, no concerns about things that haven’t even happened yet.

Obviously, it is necessary at times to plan for the future, and to be responsible in our preparation for the days to come.

But what I was doing a majority of the time could not be classified as necessary or responsible. On my first day of attempting to “only think about today”, I could not believe how many times I had to remind myself that I was mentally heading into forbidden territory.

“Oh, that’s dwelling on the past.”

“Oops… that’s worrying about the future.”

“Nope, that’s still worrying about the future!”

All day long, I was constantly reminding myself that my thoughts needed to stay on that day only.

And the strangest thing started to happen! I had so much “space” in my head that I hardly knew what to do with it. I had no idea what to think about all day. I could definitely see how it would be about twenty times easier to pray or memorize verses if I didn’t constantly have all that junk whirling around in my head.

For someone who doesn’t struggle with worry, that probably sounds really silly. How could it take me thirty-three years to figure that out? I guess we just get stuck in sinful habits, and for each of us, we have our areas of weakness that seem to get us every time.

So now what? It’s been a week since I started to give my “mind muscles” a workout. I can see how this will take some time to get used to. I’m getting better at recognizing what I’m doing, and seeing my thoughts for what they are. But I think it will be a while before this becomes natural or easy.

There are a couple of things that I keep thinking about:

1) Because it’s sinful to worry, and God commands me not to do it, I will be able to resist temptation, with His help.

2) The body naturally want to do what feels good for it. A while back, I shared this link to a message entitled “A Beautiful Mind”. The speaker talks about how our body begins to think, “Hey, this is a good choice. It makes me feel good. If I continue to repeat this action, I will feel good in the future.” And a new habit is born. Bad choices can feel good, in a different way than good choices do. If we continually focus on the good feeling that comes from good choices, our bodies will help us in the habits we are trying to form.

You know what? It feels so good to have less worry in my life! Who knew! Um, God did. (And Ben did, too! Man, I wish I could naturally be as calm and easy-going as he is!)

3) God created our bodies to function best without worry. Jesus tells us not to worry because He knows it’s best not to. It’s not just a friendly suggestion. It’s a command because He knows what’s best for our lives, and He knows that we were not created to carry that burden, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

4) Changing a habit is hard, but I can do it for today! When I think about the thoughts that pertain to today, the load looks really light. I can carry the load for today! Changing the entire way I think sounds daunting, but…I only have to do it for today!

So maybe worry is not your area of weakness. But most of these thoughts could probably apply to any area that we struggle with.

What’s your area? What do you struggle with that’s sucking the peace out of your life, and making you feel worn out and defeated? I wish I could share of burst of energy and encouragement with you today! God knows! God cares!

We say those things in such a glib way sometimes, and yet that’s what it all comes down to. It’s what I base my life on.

Want to share? Any struggles and/or words of encouragement you want to pass on to the rest of us?