Friday, March 23, 2007

The Way I See It #233. Exactly!

I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to trek up to northern Michigan (yes, the Sugar Bowl is still there...still going strong!) in {Chip's} new Highlander-Hybrid and enjoy an quick visit with old friends, new friends, and I scored a latte too. =)
It was one of those times in life where I saw many ways that God had things fall into place for me in order for this trip to take place. The time I put into my preparations more than blessed me with new insights, new challenges, and just a clearer sense of who God is and should be in life. I don't claim to be an expert on the topics of which I spoke {that picture is the intro slide of the presentation I gave..."Nitty.Gritty. Thoughts on passion and Spiritual Growth"}, but I found it to be a really great and an appropriate topic for busy Moms especially, but also to anyone who is feeling the need to slow down the pace of life, and get their priorities aligned with the goals and dreams they have- which are hopefully aligned with God's purpose and plans for our lives too. That is the key to living a life of peace, contentment and joy. It's about making intentional choices, seeking our highest purpose and calling in life, and letting go of anything that gets in the way of that.
You see, I am learning that the less I call the shots in my life and instead sacrifice what I think I need and want from day to day, that God in turn blesses that willingness in my heart, and gives me things which fill me more than the things I thought I really wanted in the first place. Okay...I need to go back, maybe you do too, and reread that, because it is so true. I believe, more and more, that that truth is becoming so contrary to what our American culture is telling us about ourselves and how we should live our lives. It's really about tuning out what society or the media or our environment is saying we should be doing, and instead, listening to what is our true heart's desire...which if it is in sync with God's desires and ultimate purpose and design for your life, I truly believe you will experinece a life of peace, contentment, joy. In the end, you will be living a life of true freedom.
No matter what your circumstances, pressures or any other outside factor that comes at you and threatens to steal that from you; you will know true peace and that's the truth.

Most imporantly though, I talked about how it isn't always easy. In fact, I am beginning to see that many times our troubles in life are really opportunities for us to do some soul-searching, but instead, we get hung up on them or in them. We struggle to make sense of them and oftentimes, we don't know how to do that. I talked about how it's really a process. Sometimes an on-going one at that. I really think that if we embrace our struggles, and instead of feeling we are victims of circumstances or getting angry at these problems, or worse, feeling depressed and sorry for ourselves in the midst of these problems, we can ask ourselves, "what can I learn from this crisis; how can I grow through this trial, and what ways can I use this situation to become a better person in life because of it?". I know... it really isn't easy. I am also fully aware of the scope and range of growing issues in life that can creep up or show up unannounced- no matter who we are, what we do, or where we live. Really. I'm talking about 'big stuff' cancer, and death and divorce. Maybe your 'big thing' is a sudden job loss or some other financial disaster that looms just in front of you. For others, it could be a series of health concerns or infertility, that no matter how many tests or treatments or experts you talk to, you find yourself with no clear answers or direction to take next. Some of the hardest things in life to overcome are the ones that have changed and shaped your life in many ways, as you were a kid- growing up. Maybe it was a form of abuse, or a home in which you lived and yet never felt loved or secure, and because of that reality, you have found yourself going through life trying to fill those 'empty, hurting parts of yourself' with all sorts of things that seem to offer answers or temporary a job or sex or alcohol or food...anything that can numb you to the reality of the pain of your life. These kinds of things are like covering a massive wound with a bandaid. They just don't cut it in the longrun.
I know that this happens because I have lived it, but also witnessed it, first-hand and second-hand and even beyond that, through the lives of people around me. It is true at some point in every single life. Nobody is immune to the problems of this world.
Fortunately though, I fully believe that there is Hope for the hurting, that there is Strength for the weary, and that there is an Answer to every problem. It's up to you to seek the Truth, and begin to apply it and then experience it fully in your own life.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to some of that and to hopefully serve as an encouragement to not give up if you are in the middle of life's trouble, or just feeling that life has lost some of it's luster, and you just don't see much beauty or joy in it anymore. Once you 'get' what Life is truly about, you will find it to be full and exciting and really a joy from day to day, no matter where you are or what you do.
Maria Fadiman put it this way, in #233 The Way I See It, on the back of my Starbuck's cup yesterday morning. It states that she is a geographer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and her quote goes like this:
"I used to think that going to the jungle made my life an adventure. However, after years of unusual work in exoctic places, I realize that it is not how far off I go or how deep into the forest I walk that gives my life meaning. I see that living fully is what makes my life- anyone's life, no matter where they do or do not go- an adventure".
I think that is how we should embrace all of life and our problems. Tune out the world, listen to your heart, hear what Life is trying to tell you, and then respond appropriately, and with intention. I am thankful for each new day in my life and the opportunities- the good and the bad- that serve to grow me and challenge me to become all that I can be.
To the ladies that I got to meet (and see again, Heidi S. and others!), thank you. I throughougly enjoyed my time with you. I hope that you got a little something out of all that talking and laughing and crying we did together. I look forward to my next adventure in life, and I hope you do to!


Jill B said...

Sacrifice and willingness are tough for me sometimes. I want to have it done my way and let God bless my plans, rather than let God plan and me be blessed.
Thanks for the reminder and the encouragment. I think maybe I should print this out and put it on my fridge to remind me to not only enjoy my life but to know that God is in every detail.
Have a great weekend.

FlipFlop Mom said...

Amen Jody!! THANK YOU!!!!

Sonia said...

I'm very glad I stumbled upon this entry of yours. Lots to think about. Thank you.

Christal said...

Great post Jody! Lots to be reminded of in this post! Thanks :)

Cris said...

Very well said Jody.

sara b said...

Jodi - Once again I am sorry people decide to use your blog to put you down. It is JODI's blog, if you don't like it, then don't read it. But why do you feel the need to put her down?
Anyways, I am so thankful for your post today. Definitely got my thought process going :)

Cris said...

My guess? Jealousy, bitterness, attention...

Shawn said...

Jody thank you SO much for leaving that comment on my blog. I started reading your posts the other night and couldn't stop. I fell asleep very very late at the computer before getting a chance to leave you a comment and let you know how much I have been inspired by your blog. This post especially but so many of the others that I couldn't begin to comment on each one that touched me. I would love to know if you're ever speaking somewhere in the Grand Rapids area. I didn't really gather where you'd moved to in Michigan from the Gaylord area. Anyway, you are an inspiration and I look forward to reading your blog regularly. :)

Cle and Sylvie said...

Jodi this post was sooo encouraging to me! I am currently going through a transition in my life, and I sooo needed to here every word you wrote. I always check into you blog from time to time and leave so inspired. Thank you so much. I can't say enough how I needed to read this to night, I know I am going to read it over and over.