Surprisingly, God welcomed my resigned, crabby, sigh-filled, grumbly praises.
| posted 10/30/2012
Turns out, I had the wrong kind of love happening. The sort of love we need to feel for our lives runs deeper than mushy love letters. The love we should feel toward our lives is the same unconditional, "no matter what" love we feel toward our spouses, our kids, our siblings, our friends, our parents, and our pets.
It sounds crazy—until we realize that this love is the same because it's the love born out of gratitude that allows us to cherish and to value, to recognize worth. Just as I love my kids because they are like no one else and because God gave them to me, I need to love my life because no one else gets to live it and because God created it—ordained it!—just for me.
But for a long time, I had a lot of junk piled up (not only in my garage!) that kept me from loving this life. Which brought me here—to the writing. To figure this out.
So, if you're like me, if you've felt the loss of a life you loved or the life that was supposed to be or if you've had your own dark midafternoon of the soul and would like to know how to love your life, I hope you'll walk with me a bit. I want you to know a few things:
1. I'm not sitting here writing this from a place of "everything's great now!" I won't tell you just to think positively and smile more (though that can't hurt) and everything will work out well. Honestly, circumstances haven't really changed since my dark midafternoon of the soul—in many ways, they're actually worse. My parents didn't reconcile. Depression still lurks. Relationships suffer. Debt deepens. And, yes, that dog's still dead. So essentially, I'm still working with a lot of the same junk that got me there on the floor. I want you to know this because I know how annoying it is for someone whose life is suddenly perfect—all situations rectified—to talk about how to love life and be shouting hallelujah all the livelong day. That's not me. But a few other important things have changed: my perspective; my understanding of God; my experience of his faithfulness; and my idea of what loving life looks like, what it means. And that's huge.
2. I'm no Pollyanna. I don't wake up with a song in my heart or one coming from the little baby bluebirds chirping outside my window. In sharp contrast to a friend of mine who once told me the first thing in her head every morning when she woke up is, I love being a mom. I have a great life! the first thing in my head every morning is, Morning already? You've got to be kidding! or its cousin, Can't these kids sleep?! And I don't believe in Pollyanna-ish advice—or that happiness, per se, is our end goal. I agree with Charles Schultz (the Peanuts creator): "Happiness is a warm puppy" (emphasis mine). This means it's wonderful when it's there, and it's to be cherished for sure, but happiness is fleeting. It snuggles up for a while, but inevitably that happy puppy jumps right off your lap. It might even nip at you and dribble some pee on its way down. This may sound harsh, but I don't believe in happiness as an end goal because I'm not sure that it's God's end goal for us. I rarely see God working things out simply so we can be happy. I think he wants us to be holy, as I'm sure you've heard before. So sure, moments of sheer happiness exist—hence the warm-puppy thing—but life isn't always rosy (even though he lived a perfect life, Jesus didn't strike me as a particularly chipper guy, to be honest). And I've learned that I don't really want it to be. God's got some good stuff for us in the not-so-rosy times too. The thing is: loving anything—a life included—is hard work. It takes perseverance and discipline—some honest looks and hard choices now and again.