Or each hour....or each minute. You know, sometimes it's literally necessary to take each second as it comes, and that is A.O.K. because it keeps us in the present moment, which means we're not dwelling on the past or stressing about the future, and that's a good thing. But this post isn't about the present moment. I mean, it sort of is, but it's not saying "Hey, I'm a blog post that is one hundred percent devoted to the present moment and the present events that are happening....errr....presently."
Nope, while the present moment does play a role in today's topic, the actual topic itself has more to do with the HOW and the WHAT (as they relate to staying in the present moment). Meaning, I'm going to share exactly how I make it through my days with these illnesses and manage to keep a positive outlook on life (even though there are times I lose it and that sad, overwhelming, anxiety-laden mindset comes in and I refuse to acknowledge positives--basically, I'm human).
But seriously, even though my family *cough*Rog*cough* can attest I have moments where I cry like a little baby about how life currently is, I hope they'd be with me in saying that sometimes I surprise myself at how positive I can be. Or how much joy I'm able to find in the littlest things in life. Or how my hope is never gone, even on bad days.
I don't have a secret "FIVE STEPS TO ASSURED HAPPINESS" headline you'll find on a famous magazine (partially because there's little room left for such things amidst the ridiculous amount of "LOSE WEIGHT FAST, NOW, AND FOREVER" lies that plaster nearly every magazine cover in the checkout lines/magazine racks/women's bathrooms/hair salons). Nope, my "secret" isn't a secret at all. At least, I hope if you know me, it's not a secret. And if it is a secret or comes as a surprise, then I apologize sincerely, because I've not been as outspoken as I am called to be.
But here's my key to remaining joyful, even during trials:
I focus on the Cross, and I pray.
Now, that may sound a little cliche, but let me explain. I can't think of a better time to write this post than now, at the beginning of this Lenten season, the season designed for us to "fast" (which I put in quotation marks because fasting doesn't have to just revolved around giving up food or drink X--there are fasts of all varieties) and sacrifice something we typically have/do/spend time focusing on, and replace that X with time spent drawing closer to God, growing in our relationship with Him by asking Him to bring a radical change in our hearts that so easily get overrun with worldly things, and developing our witness in the world. A simple summary of the goal is that we are preparing our minds and hearts and asking God to help us focus on the Cross and transform our hearts in such a way that we understand Jesus' sacrifice on a deeper, more personal level, every day.
So how exactly does focusing on the cross and praying help me maintain a spirit of joy in my day-to-day life? I'm glad you asked! Or I'm at least glad you read where I asked, as if a reader were asking. Oh, blogosphere, how I love you and how you enable me to hold entire conversations with myself and still be considered sane.
The best way I could describe it is that I get my 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on. Pray without ceasing. (KJV) Or as some other translations say, Pray continually. It seems like such a basic concept, but I've found when I wholeheartedly make an effort to live out this verse, my life and mindset are radically changed from focusing on troubles to relishing the good God continually provides.
For instance, today I had enough energy to fold our laundry, which was awesome! The whole while I was folding laundry, I was praying. Aloud. Since I'm home alone during the day on most weekdays, I don't have to worry about feeling silly for praying aloud--emphasis on the loud, because sometimes I just can't contain myself and the volume level of my prayer session rivals that of Lucy barking-at-the-FedEx truck. And I elaborate this much to say this: I'm not sharing this prayer session scenario to get accolades. I'm not trying to "show off" and I'm not making a statement on how "good" I am. Honestly, if I didn't have this burning desire to share my key to getting through the day--which happens to be prayer--I wouldn't write about the prayer session in detail, because the last thing I want is to come across as the hypocrites Jesus mentions in Matthew 6:5 who " love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others."
But prayer is such a catalyst to my joyfulness and hope that I HAVE to share it.
When I'm praying--whether it's for myself or for any other requests that come to mind or that people have shared with me--my focus can't be on my present struggles. I can't be mulling over my pain, weakness, inability to do X, Y, and Z. Because when I'm actively having a conversation with God, that's automatically where I focus. Not on myself. Not on earthly struggles. On the prayer. On God. On the Cross.
The really neat thing I've discovered when I throw my heart and mind fully into prayer is that it never really ends there. The prayer always, without fail, transforms into praise. And when you have a heart that is prayerful, and consequentially full of praise, it's daggone near impossible to lose sight of the hope and joy that is always present, even when there may be times you don't feel it as strongly.
If you read this far, I thank you immensely. I also apologize that this ended up being quite longer than I intended, but when something is on my heart like this, the possible scenarios are 1.) write it out as soon as humanly possible and hope for a good night's sleep or 2.) not get a single minute of sleep until I force myself to take time to blog about it.
So I choose the former.
And I'm leaving you with one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite bands with gets me reminiscing about some of my all-time favorite memories.