Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011


I know, you're thinking I missed the boat and am once again playing catch up. After all, Thanksgiving was LAST month.

Yes, indeedy it was. But no, this isn't a catch up post. Rather, it's a public declaration of a private decision: to search for peace.

Thanks to the chaos of the last couple of years, I've lived with less peace in my heart than I would like. More confusion, less clarity. More doubt, less faith. More fear, less hope. I've certainly had periods of great comfort and times of crystal clear direction, but as a rule, I have had to work excessively hard for them.

As I've continued to pray for understanding, for direction, for peace, for joy, I've had lots of pushing of the Spirit to one place:


I'm stubborn. I admit it. It's taken a lot of shoving and a lot of reminding, and I'm finally paying attention.  The key for me seems to be in opening up my eyes and my heart to the beauty in my life, in the good and even in the bad. And in order to train my mind and heart to be grateful, I'm starting a gratitude journal. I think I'll see God's hand more clearly as I record his tender mercies to me. I'll recognize the little things that add up to big things. I'll enjoy small moments more and help my family enjoy them, too.

And maybe in the process, I'll begin to shed this tougher skin that feels so alien to me. Being tender feels dangerous. I've armored up, trying to avoid further pain. But, as Amber so eloquently reminded me months ago: "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." Life is pain, but life isn't all pain. By protecting myself so carefully from it, I've hidden away some of my ability for joy.

Eric used a magnificent C.S. Lewis quote at Brent's funeral:

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

Ingratitude is a sort of Hell, I think. It turns us to selfishness, to pessimism, to seeing other people as obstacles to our happiness.

I'm sort of done with that. It's time to take back my faith in the world, in humanity, in hope for a good outcome in a bad situation. I'm ready to be the glass-half-full girl again: maybe not as naive in my optimism as I once was, but a wiser optimist is a better optimist anyway, right?

Some of my encouragement to start being more grateful has come as I've been following Catherine on her journey of gratitude. As a result of her posts, I have also been reading Ann Voskamp's lovely lovely blog. I love the idea of working towards recording a thousand gifts (and beyond).

I could wait weeks before I crafted the right kind of post, with the right words, the right pictures, to start my recording. But I won't. I'm casting aside my desire for perfection that hobbles me day after day and just starting with these things for which I am truly, deeply grateful:

1. Women of God, of hope, whose lives demonstrate with their light what God can do with each of us if we are willing to shine, even just a little.

2. Temple worship, for seeing myself more clearly when inside, and for the ability I'm given to see others more clearly when I leave.

3. Music. Today, specifically, this song.

4. Another chance (thanks to Christ and His Atonement) to remake myself. A chance to try again, again, again, and even once more.

5. Hot chocolate.

6. Finally having the Christmas decorations up.

It's a beautiful day. I'm going to go enjoy it.