Sunday, January 19, 2014

Don't Forget to Celebrate

I love moments when I can just let go of all the stress and the things clouding my mind and just revel in the joy of the moment.  When I truly allow myself to do that, I am completely humbled by how much the God of this universe loves me and cares about every detail of my life.  Those moments don't come that often, sad to say.  Usually because I choose to focus on things out of my control or allow myself to worry.  But this past week, I had one of those moments.  

I love living by the beach.  The water is so peaceful and calming and just has this affect on you that nothing else does.  And I am so fortunate to get to see that every day.  I was telling a friend of mine this past week that every time I drive Hwy 90 I feel like I'm on vacation and keep wondering when it will be time to go back home.  I told her I hope I never lose that feeling.  So as I was driving to a meeting Friday, the water was so still and peaceful and I just became overwhelmed with gratitude and peace.

As I've posted many times before, I struggle with doubt and worry and fear.  It's been a lifelong struggle.  One that I've spent a lot of time and prayer working on this past year.  As I've also shared, my life has taken a dramatic turn this past year.  And to top it all off, I turned 40.  It's been a year full of excitement, new relationships, scary moments, leaps of faith, fear, doubt, joy...every emotion possible.  It's also been a year where I declared war on this constant struggle.  And I've made some steps forward in that battle.  Not to say I'm anywhere close to where I need or want to be.  But my faith has grown in a way I never thought possible.  There have been times God has allowed me to be pushed to my limit.  Then there have been times when His hand of favor has definitely been on me.  

But so often I focus on my mistakes and my failures.  I allow doubt to creep in and allow myself to entertain thoughts that I know are lies...rather than trusting the truth that God is speaking to my heart.  I get overly upset over things that aren't that big of a deal because my perception is wrong.  I get angry.  I can be passive aggressive.  I fail miserably at being the woman I know God is growing me to be.  And so often I focus on those things rather than seeing what God is doing through the struggle.  And so often I forget to celebrate the matter how small.  But if the joy of the Lord is to be my strength, I have to allow joy to reign in my heart.

So back to that drive to the meeting.  As I drove along, listening to my eclectic mix of music on my phone, this feeling of overwhelming peace and gratitude just overtook me.  And I realized that I had (with God's help) mastered a victory over my struggle.  My usual cycle is to have an expectation, that expectation isn't met, I get upset and choose to see things from my perception rather than God's, I react (usually in a not so great way), and then I feel bad for my reaction and beat myself up.  But this week was different.  This week I chose to see things from God's perception.  I chose to trust that if the God of the universe cared enough about a bird to make sure it was fed, how much more does He care for me and the details of my life and the desires of my heart.  And I chose not to get upset and react in a negative way but rather to trust God's sovereignty.   Of course, that only lasted a couple of days and then I was back in my usual cycle.  But, in that moment, there was a victory.

Sometimes, I think we can get so caught up in beating ourselves up for our failures and mistakes.  And yes, it is important to learn from them.  But in the midst of doing that we miss those little victories that we should be celebrating.  And I think that celebrating those rare times when we "get it right" may be part of the key to winning the overall battle with our struggles.  Because when we celebrate those moments, we are actually worshiping and honoring God and the work He is doing in our lives.   And that is what helps us overcome the struggle.  And another curious thing happens.  Instead of my getting all puffed up and boastful about my victory, I become a little more humbled and a lot more aware of just what God is doing in my life.  

And that is when the peace comes in.  Once I allowed myself to celebrate that one tiny step forward rather than focusing on the two huge steps backward, I opened my heart up to joy unspeakable.  And I was overcome with that gratitude and peace.  

This past year has been a whirlwind.  But as I was reflecting on all the God has done, I realized just how blessed I am.  I may not know the details of how it is all going to work out, but I can trust in the One who does.  And I am truly blessed.  Beyond measure!  I get to do a job I absolutely love every single day.  Yes, it's hard and not every day is great.  But when I see a child with Autism who refused to participate in a session two weeks ago come to a session this past week and actually participate and smile and enjoy makes my heart glad.  I get to live in a gorgeous place.  I have gotten to meet some wonderful people who have changed my life for the better.  I have been able to release a long suffering hurt that has kept me from opening my heart and have been able to move forward from that after years and years of struggle with it.  I've even lost 25 pounds.  

And for the first time I believe in my entire life, I finally feel "at home."  I finally feel that I fit in and I'm where I'm supposed to be.  I believe that He has blessed me with people in my life who encourage me to be better.  I believe I'm doing what God put me here to do. And I believe that I'm finally becoming the woman He has longed for me to become all my life.  And I'm so grateful.  And humbled that He would love me that much.  Not every day is all roses and chocolate.  There are some very hard days.  But those days serve to remind me that, though I have finally found where I belong here on this earth, I am not truly Home yet.  This life isn't the be all and end all.  There is so much more in store...more than I could dare to dream!  

So I'm hopeful.  I'm hopeful that God will continue to grow me.  I'm hopeful that I will continue to see more of these small victories over my struggles and less failures.  And I hope that I will not forget to celebrate the good that God is doing in my life.  My prayer is that you will have the same hope.  May your week be full of joy and reasons to celebrate!