I feel kind of silly.
I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but I began putting off things that feed my soul again. I mean really feed my soul. I’d pray, but not dig into my Bible or read this book that my significant other had recommended or work on Christmas things very much even. It just sort of got pushed out by other things, right around the time that I had my bad days. I didn’t stop entirely, I even picked up a few extra sermon podcasts which have been excellent, but my dedicated time dwindled to snippets.
I made the comment in my last entry that I wasn’t sure what I’d been doing differently. Sure, I was busier with other things. I didn’t feel like I was busier than usual, though. Putting things off some, and while that was only a few days I do know that’s a habit I cannot afford to resurrect. So I had a bit of angst about that, plus some concern about how peace-less I’d been feeling, and worst of all I felt like I was missing something important. Something right in front of me. And I was perhaps deceiving myself and making excuses again and not realising it – I wasn’t making excuses to avoid Bible study and such, as I said I didn’t stop altogether, I still prayed a lot, and I was picking up the other sermons, so I didn’t think that was the issue. But I still had that fear that I was missing something I should be seeing. So the other night, I got my act together and made time to read more of the aforementioned book, Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture (which is an excellent book if you are a believer), and I came across the answer. Which, sure enough, was in front of me the entire time.
I took my eyes off of God.
I have said so many times, on here, talking to other people primarily, that the key element I have learned in this Bible study over the past few months is that it is essential to keep one’s eyes on God. If I focus on the surrounding problems, I get discouraged. If I focus on the hurt, I get discouraged. If I focus on all the stuff I’ve fallen behind on (but am making pretty good strides on this week!), I get distracted. If I focus on avoiding the hurt of whatever I’m dealing with and indulge my desire to be distracted, I, obviously, get distracted. And then I will pray, and still have no peace. I will mourn and just keep mourning. And this eventually, if it goes on long enough, dissuades me from doing the things I should, because it feels like they aren’t working, so what’s the point?
But if I keep my eyes on God, that peace comes back. If I remember what He’s already seen me through, what He’s already saved me from, what He’s already shown me and taught me, then I have a foundation for my faith. If I remember who my God is and what He is capable of, I have hope. Perhaps not necessarily hope for specific things I want very much, but I have hope that no matter what I am given in the end, it will be okay. If I look to Him, my problems do not disappear, things are not ‘magically’ all better; but my mind is clearer, often solutions or at least a more helpful approach in the meantime occurs to me when I’m not chasing the hurts and frustrations around and around my brain, and I can pray, really pray, with gratitude that strengthens my faith and gives me strength and peace when I need it.
So today has been a much better day. I still miss the daylights out of my Dom, I’m still more than a little broken-hearted. But I haven’t had any crying episodes, nor have I had the urge to stay in bed all day apart from the usual “do I have to go to work on a Monday” episode, I don’t feel forlorn, Christmas music isn’t making my heart hurt so much that I start to avoid it, but the Christmas spirit is back and I am appreciating the things I do have, the little moments like waking up to a very snowy day today, Christmas lights, the lovely people I get to work with, etc. It’s bizarre, and it sounds so trite and cliched, believe me I was the first person to think “yeah, right” when I’d hear this stuff. But I have to eat my words/thoughts now, because it’s genuinely helping me now. I feel like I can breathe and I don’t have to avoid my emotions; that’s a big deal.
And tonight, as I continue reading, I came across another reminder of this: “When we focus on the size of our problems, we forget about the size of our God.” My theology never changed; I never thought that God couldn’t handle things, or even that He wouldn’t. I have never doubted that God is good; I do sometimes doubt that what I want is what God is going to give me, because He has not promised that specifically, but I have never doubted that God is who He says He is. And in my mind I didn’t drop those key theological concepts. But I did stop, for a few days, living like they were true. I took my eyes off of Him, and I looked at the surrounding pain and disappointment and fear, and it just sucked. Because there is no way that I can claw myself out of that; I’ve tried. I can sort of wait it out sometimes, but then either something else happens or I get used to living with it and before I know it I have convinced myself this is the way things have to be, my life just includes a lot of misery and I have to just live with it.
With a little refocusing, not to ignore everything else but to put everything else in its proper context, subject to God, where my eyes are on Him, when I wake up, when I drive, when I work, when I wash dishes, when I pray, when I’m happy, when I’m scared, when I’m sad, when a certain someone has gotten under my skin like no other and I have to walk away from the keyboard to calm down for a few moments, when I lay down at night, if I just keep my eyes on Him then I don’t feel so weighed down, dragged down, pinned down by misery and despair. Literally nothing else has changed, this is the weird part. But I can breathe. I can think. I can function without having to distract myself all the time (a very big deal). I can enjoy Christmas, even if circumstances aren’t what I want. I can let go of things in a good way while still having some hope, even if I still haven’t a clue as to what specifically I get to hope for (which drives my mind a little crazy, but my heart is okay with it). I’m just incredibly grateful for this book and to my Dom for recommending it, because I needed this.
And I feel so silly for noting that key theme over and over and over until I’m sure certain people are really tired of me bringing it up all the time, and when the going got tough I frickin’ forgot it.
Honestly, Belle, where is your head?
So for now, this method of navigation is working. It’s not necessarily about more prayer or more Bible study or more of anything really. It’s about me keeping my eyes on Him.
I am doing a few ‘practical application’ things to help keep my expectations in check too, like keeping out of chat (because as soon as I log in I’m hoping that somehow, randomly, maybe, just maybe my Dom will be there) and making myself not put off things I want to do so I’m not frustrated waiting for something that I have zero guarantee can happen (which is fine, I just need to have a good attitude about it and not set myself up for failure here), and I’m letting myself shape multiple ideas in my head of what Christmas will be like this year, and I am actively searching for good and beautiful things in all scenarios. Not to hope for everything, but to remind myself that if I get snowed in, things will still be wonderful; if I don’t get to see certain people over the holidays, I will still get to see these other people; if I don’t get to do these things I want, maybe I can do these other things; that if I don’t get this particular experience, then it’s still going to be a beautiful, joyful, wonderful holiday. Because it’s Christmas. And I haven’t watched all those Christmas specials for nothing.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone reading.