Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mid Life Dip

Reprint from 2008 - thought it was interesting to re-read!


I was watching the Today Show one day this week. They had three people - I think it was two psychologists and a rabbi. Apparently there was a poll taken of 1 million people, not including income, color. Just a simple question, "Are you happy?" Well the good news is the really young and the really old are really happy. The bad news is...the ones in the middle - not so much.




Here's the link to the article: MiddleAgeIsTrulyDepressing,StudyFinds




The discussion was all about why that was. How come people in their late 30's through 40's are so unhappy? The average age the dip started was 44 1/2 and folks didn't emerge from it until after their 50's. What they discussed made good sense. The pressures of providing for the future are suddenly a very real thing. Babies are no longer babies - they are growing children - a lot faster than you thought they were going to. Parents are getting older and are having to be provided for as well in some cases. Of course there are many factors that can either add to or take away from the unhappiness. Marriages not being what you thought is one, debt being another, sickness...rebellious teens, not to mention all the changes that come. Can't see like we use to, can't fit into the clothes we use to...heck - we don't even know what's "in" anymore. We are too busy taking care of our kids and holding things together!




Apparently middle age is the beginning of enlightenment. We were too young to understand how hard it was when we were children (ignorance really is bliss) and we are not yet old enough to understand that it is not the end of the world and that there is a point we get use to all the changes and become comfortable with who we are. We then become happy again. And enjoy life again. We finally reach the Age of Enlightenment.




Do you know what is really interesting about the study? They also took into account where people lived. Can you believe that the happiest people were not the ones who lived in the sunny South or the Bahamas where the weather is fine? The people who were happiest were the ones who lived in places like Iceland, and Finland. The reason? Because they have to depend on each other more. They are a group of people who look to each other in the dark, cold of their climate to meet each others needs. They are a community. They support each other and care for each other in that community. The people are closer and felt more content because the relationships in their villages are close. They have people - so to speak. Someone they know they can count on.




That is an amazing find. We need each other. We are to support each other. We are to find our contentment in relationships not status and possessions. The problem with middle age is we are just learning that. We are on the cusp of understanding but are so busy trying to make ends meet that we can't quite grasp it. Then the kids go to college and we kind of get a handle on the finances and suddenly we realize. We understand. We start to really live, to really find happiness.




But you know - we don't have to wait. As a matter of fact I believe it is possible to find that happiness well before our "Golden Years". Especially for those who are in Christ. He has called us to love one another. He has given us this advice and if we live it, we will find our contentment. We will find that the Age of Enlightenment is now and not in the future. We can live a full life well before our fifties. This is joy and it should be present in the believers life even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Does that mean that each day will be easy breezy? I do not think that is what the study was about at all. Happiness does not mean no worries. Happiness is a state of mind. I believe that it is contentment and being comfortable in your own skin. I believe it comes from knowing that your tomorrow's are under control. And for a believer, that is a given. That is joy.


There are still worries. There are still...hormones...ugh. There are still little ones and teenage years and parents that need caring for. BUT, if we can remember that it is all just so temporary. And then we move to the next stage. Learning to be happy where we are today is HUGE. As a matter of fact...I was speaking to an older lady the other day, she said that her kids were harder now than they had ever been. The reason is because she could not make it better for them anymore. They were adults with kids of their own. Her struggle came from not being able to be hands on anymore and help and fix things like she had been able to when they were younger. They had to make their own way. I can imagine that is hard for a Mama. I remember when I was at home with the twins, nursing them and changing diapers unendingly, a friend told me that it just got harder when they got to school and to enjoy that time I had with them as babies. I was shocked and then I was shocked yet again to hear my sweet older friend say it got harder still even when they were no longer children.
You know what that says to me though? There is never an end to our struggle to make things right in our world. But that does not mean we cannot find our footing here and be happy. I absolutely believe that we can. And...what if, we miss a blessing, miss the joy of the present because we keep waiting to get through whatever stage we are in before we think we can finally find that joy. No, God has given us everything we need to be content here and now. We have His Word, His Holy Spirit and each other. By prayer, study and fellowship we can have joy even in the hard times. How blessed are we?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Just Do It

I think Nike has something there. I am convinced more and more that the more I make myself do something even though I don't feel like doing it - it is good for me....and it makes me happier. So my new motto each day has been to wake up and say Just Do It. I don't feel like it...do it anyway. It has been a relief and I have been enjoying my days more. Wow. Who knew? This is especially appropo considering the funk I have been in. Sometimes wallering just makes things worse...I gotta get my fanny up and DO!

Philippians 2:12-14 (New International Version)

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14Do everything without complaining or arguing,

This applies to everything. My time with God in the mornings, my loving my husband well, my disciplining the kids, my housework. There has never been a time that I did something I was suppose to that I said, "Well that was useless and a waste of my time". Well...maybe I said that but I still was happy I did it. It was right and good and it agreed with The Spirit that dwells within me. It is like finding the right place to put a piece to the puzzle.

Obedience is like that. Very freeing. Now...I wonder if I can convince my children of this?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Diligence - Signs of the Times

I read this passage yesterday and was amazed.

1Timothy 4 (New International Version)

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. 11Command and teach these things. 12Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers


A while back (2-3 years ago) Oprah started her own Bible Study of sorts...I think it is more like a pep rally for self. Bits and pieces were taken from the Bible and added to. But it is a convoluted sort of feel good compilation of stuff. I think Oprah has a heart that means to serve others well...but - in this "Bible Study" I think she may be off the mark. Anyway...there are many things that have come about lately that show that we are doing exactly what 1 Timothy 4 says.

We are allowing small seeds of untruth to bed themselves into our thoughts and it simply changes the meaning of Scripture. Remember our rule to live by is the Word of God. It is our plumb line, our compass - it is how we stay on course. Without measuring what we hear to the Word we will more than likely be deceived. Because quite honestly what Oprah says is not bad stuff. She is a kind, and giving person. Yet, it is not scripture and it very self driven.

So in light of all of these things that we are constantly hearing and have a tendency to take root in our thoughts - we are to tell each other and keep each other in the Word. To be DILIGENT in rightly dividing the Word of God. To measure everything we hear and everything we say to the Truth that is revealed there.

Be in the Word daily...be diligent.

It is very important in these later times.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Here I go again...

I am in the midst of a fear fest right now. Seriously. I have this wrong feeling. It is nagging and it bothers me that I have done so well for so many months and all of a sudden I go to sleep with it and wake up with it and have it follow me wherever I go.

The future worries me. My children and my choices for them and the choices I allow them to make worry me. I am not doing it right right now. That worries me. I am thinking too much right now and that really worries me. My husband's choices worry me and the choices I allow him to make are worrying me (that really is tongue in cheek).

Speculation

The culprit.

Seriously, speculating is a worrisome thing.

spec·u·la·tion

[spek-yuh-ley-shuh  n]   
noun
1.
the contemplation or consideration of some subject: to engage in speculation on humanity's ultimate destiny.
2.
a single instance or process of consideration.
3.
a conclusion or opinion reached by such contemplation: These speculations are impossible to verify.
4.
conjectural consideration of a matter; conjecture or surmise: a report based on speculation rather than facts.
5.
engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains, especially trading in commodities, stocks, etc., in the hope of profit from changes in the market price.
 
Numero Tres is the one that is the culprit here.
 
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
 
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ....
 
I truly do not feel stable right now. Some of this may be hormonal. Seriously. And some of it may be that we are still in such a questionable place as far as our future. Of course it is secure. We are just not really sure what it is right now. I have gotten better at not looking too far ahead. But lately - I suck at it.
 
My weapon must be the word of God. I must cast down imagination and once again take hold of the moment by moment faith that allows me to soar verses bottoming me out. I must take my thoughts into captivity and funnel them through the Word.
 


Philippians 4:7-9

English Standard Version (ESV)
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So  practically speaking - we have been cared for through some pretty scary times. Nothing has changed. We have everything we need and then some. So thinking on my blessings - thanking God for how he has cared for us. Finding things to do for others and serving them well is my best remedy. Do I want to be away from the precipice that always seems just inches away? Yes I do. But apparently that is not where I flourish spiritually.

My independence is so wounded right now. It aches to be free. I am just like a child that stamps her foot and says, "I want to do it all by myself". God is surely clucking his tongue and saying, "patience - trust me".


Hebrews 13:5-6

English Standard Version (ESV)

5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." 6 So we can confidently say,

"The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?"

 





.And so - I once again must trust that God will supply my needs and lay this worry to bed once more. The future is his and I know he loves me. I can exult in the fact that I have gone quite some time without having that heinous thing tracking me like a hound dog - this is progress!  God is indeed making me a new creature and I suppose I just have to keep understanding that my nature is flawed and waiting to be perfected. How I pray that the small advances I make glorify God and I look forward to the day when he decides it is time to finish the work he began. It makes me smile.


Portrait of a Lady

Yes, yes - this is a Henry James novel. A novel I am reading presently. I am absolutely captivated by it! As I read it, I find myself comparing and contrasting myself with Isabel Archer Osmond - mainly after she is married. I do not get to know her well until I am halfway through the book. Finally, sister lets her mind be known. She is all generosity and gentility. She is an enigma that draws people in. All the while she is struggling with her past decisions.

I am much too contemplative at times. I see this in Isabel. I have belabored my decision making from the past and have the ghosts of advice given and ignored haunt me at times. Would my life be different? Would it be better? Would it be more fulfilled?

Fact is - doesn't matter. I think Isabel Archer Osmond comes to this conclusion as well. No matter how she has been wounded, no matter what advice she walked away from, no matter how bad her choices may have been - she turns her back on speculation and contents herself with dealing with the present. With living well within the realm of what she has chosen.

She may have well chosen differently and found herself in the same position later. No life is perfect. We content ourselves with the fact that we did the best we could with what we had at the time. I like that she has the gumption to see things for what they really are. She never blamed her misunderstandings on those she misunderstood. They just were. And she contented herself to make the best of it.

I see myself in her when she burns with embarrassment over what she initially thought and what really was. I rally with her when she defends her incorrect conclusions with sound logic. And I am pleased when she settles down to enjoy what freedom she has to live in the choices she made. I see this in so many relationships I have had...in work, ministry and love - whether it be friendship or past beau's. I made mistakes. I lived through them. I am who and what I brought with me through the experiences. I can live well knowing that I am better for them - no matter how painful the experience or how foolish I felt for my naivete.

I am not finished reading the entire book yet. I may have to come back later and ammend my conclusions...but so far, I think this is a lovely book. Some critics claim it is a tragedy. I do not see it that way at all. Life, afterall, is not a fairytale where all live happily ever after. We live spherically and advance the best we can. Life really is what we make it - in all the disappointments and tragedies it can still be a wonderful life. I pray I always strive to make it so.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scarlett O'Hara-itis

I have it. There is not a day that goes by that I don't say at some time during the day..."I can't think about that right now, I will take care of it tomorrow".

And sometimes - it is a necessity.

But I am chronic. I say it about diets, projects, health issues...so many things.

But I think - with this first day of January - instead of a list of crap I know I won't follow through with, I will do my best to end the procrastination.

There are so many reasons for procrastination. I have three little boys that are busy. A job, housework, social stuff - so many things. I also deal with those lovely fluctuating mood swings that seem to get more drastic the older I get. That is an every day battle. And sometimes I am just stinkin' tired. There are also the times I am doing for others. That has always been my gift and my life just doesn't seem to work well unless I find a way to incorporate that. Although that can be a battle of my will over my laziness as well. That's a whole other story.

So today I am planning on practicing doing what I think is too hard for the moment. I just pray I recognize it each time and act on it. I pray for the awareness to put wings to my ideas, to say "yes" instead of "not today" to eating better, exercising more, whatever it is that seems too much at the time.

Happy New Year!