Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Beyond "Dukes of Hazard" and Cheetos...

I'm not sure that I can make sense of the title of this post, but I will do my best to express my thoughts. Again...this is mostly for me, as I sit and question and process and wonder and just push the thoughts and beliefs I hold about life- so, really, it only needs to make sense to me. If you happen to be able to glean something from all this, well than I consider that bonus...and that you are really smart to understand what I am trying to put into words. My own hubby struggles with what I am trying to say much of the time...and he lives with me! =)
Chip would probably say, "here you go, saying the same stuff again", but sometimes I have to tell myself those same things over and over just so that I 'get them' and believe them to be tried and true. Basically, as a result of a series of things, the Virginia Tech shootings, several emails with questions that relate to my life and how I have handled tragedy, a personal situation with a struggling family member, and friend, as well as speaking on Sunday and re-watching video of ourselves on Oprah talking about forgiveness and what that means in life...and then today, I enjoyed the final session and study with my Tuesday morning Mom's group, where we talked about Heaven.
All these things have been going on in my head for a long time, off and on, but more in depth over the past few days. One of the things that I couldn't get out of my head for some reason one afternoon, were the words of the (original) Dukes of Hazard theme song. You know, "Just two good ol' boys, never meaning no harm. It's all they ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they were born. Making their way, the only way they know how..." Those words made me think of how so many of us are living our lives each day. We don't intentionally look for trouble, or set out with the belief that life is going to have us 'jumping over small bodies of water' or off-roading it through bumps and thickets or running like mad because we happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.
Take marriage for example. A young, engaged couple more often than not, are charting their future and imagining this dream life together, with happiness and wonderment as they begin their 'new life together'. Most of them don't really stop and imagine what life would be like if the worse part of the 'for better or worse' actually became reality. Ask almost any young couple, and they would probably say that 'their love can endure anything that comes their way" or that "as long as we have each other, that's all that matters'.
Or take the single person. A young woman for example. She probably believes that there is such a thing as "Mr. Right". She's got a picture in her mind that life is gonna be grand as soon as he comes into the picture. Or the couple that is hoping beyond hopes, and thinking that the one thing that would make life perfect, is the longing in their hearts to have a child, and raise a family. Some can't figure out why it's not happening the way they hoped and 'planned' for it to happen, and instead, they are living a 'nightmare'- one of pain and hurt and unfulfilled longings in their heart. They look at their friends who have what they want, and this burning desire now begins to create tension in their marriage, friendships, and their whole outlook on life.
For whatever reason, often at no fault of our own, life rarely (if ever, as far as I'm concerned) pans out the way we want or expect it to.
What we're left with is a world of people living the Dukes of Hazard theme song in life. People are just "trying to get by", or left hurt that the world has let them down. Some are overwhelmed with worry and fear or anger and bitterness. Each day brings the reality of the injustice of their situation, rather than the opportunity for dreams to be fulfilled.
Right about now, things start to look and sound really depressing and bleak. Kind of how the Bo and Luke Duke felt just as the General Lee was 'frozen' in mid-air with Roscoe and Boss Hog hot on their tail, as the announcer paused for a television break. Things weren't looking as though life was going in their favor.
Another way of putting it is an example that came to my mind as I just ate lunch with my girls. We were having sandwiches, bananas, Cheetos and milk. My girls all wanted to eat the Cheetos first. As a mom, I have a hard time finding balance at meals with toddlers, because they always want the 'junk food' first. I try to give them mostly healthy options, but I'll admit we do eat plenty of refines sugars on any given day. It made me think of how I am like that in life- even as a grown up. The things I want to fill my life with are often "easy, comfortable, fun, entertaining, indulgent, and good"...for a moment or two. Anything of real value, or substance, often demands my time, energy, peak performance, will-power, my body, mind and strength. Somedays, I would just like to put my feet up and let life happen. I'd love to eat bon-bons and let the world pass me by- with no thought to trouble or the cares that I have each day. Like a real-life day at the beach in my own home.
But it just doesn't happen like that. Yet, this is where it gets tricky, in a sense, because I don't ever want to come across as boasting about my life, but I have learned in all things, in every circumstance, that I can be content. I can live without fear, or guilt or worry, or even that life is going to be 'fair'. I have been on a journey, and I continue to seek do live life to the best of my ability, even if I fail big time, or get hurt along the way.
I think I have said this before, but one of the driving 'forces' in my life has been the realization and absolute certainty in my mind, that this life is not the end. I truly believe there is a future, an eternity, beyond what we can see. That belief has led to a great peace in my life, and it's what makes me pick up and keep going even when the whole world seems to 'be against me'. One of my favorite quotes, by a quadraplegic woman named Joni Eareckson Tada, is this, "True contentment means asking less of this life, because more is coming in the next".
Life, so many times, is like the bag of Cheetos my girls and I sat munching at lunchtime. It looked yummy (Wyndham loves the color orange!), and tastes good and crunches and is very satisfying, for the first handful or two. But I know that Cheetos offer very little, if any nutritional value, and I know that they won't fill my girls up for very long, or give them long-term energy. I know that too many Cheetos makes them want their 'healthy food' even less, and that if left to their own devices, they would eat too many and actually make themselves sick!
In my own life, this has been true. For many years, I was 'living the easy life', and although I still knew that I loved God and I knew if I died that I would go to Heaven, I was still loading up on too many "Cheetos" in life and I felt like I was trying to do everything right, but in the end, no matter what 'goal' I reached, there was a longing and emptiness inside of me.
I know I have a long way to go yet, but I have, in the past couple of years, seen that with each passing day, this world holds less and less of me. I don't need 'stuff' to fill my life. I don't need things to turn out perfectly as I plan them, but instead, I recognize that the only thing that truly matters is eternity.
All the times I have cried tears for not being the 'right weight', or having enough money to buy this or that, or to go here or there. All the times I sat moping because my dreams were going to be dashed as the reality of my pregnancy set in the first time around. All the times I got frustrated wondering how we would pay bills and still have money left for the things I wanted for pleasure and fun...because everyone else does this or that. All the times I wished I could just snap my fingers and fix the problems of my life...to this very day they have not all gone away. I still have pain, struggles, heartache, unfulfilled dreams, and even have to watch that I don't overdo it on Cheetos, but I can truly say that life has no hold on me.
If I could package the peace I feel on any given day, I'd want to give them out to everyone I meet...and that is why I blog and share my story and seek God with all my heart. It makes no sense really, that I- who doesn't have it all- and never will have the money and fortune and success and 'good life' that some people are blessed to have, live as though I already do have it all. It's simply because I recognize that this world, no matter how beautiful and perfect and awesome something or someone may be, will not begin to compare to who God is and always will be in my life. He's my everything. And when I remind myself of that truth, day after day, that is when I live a life of freedom, contentment, Joy, and peace. This world is a really amazing and beautiful place sometimes, but when it's all said and done, it really holds nothing for me.


Anonymous said...

very well said =)

by the way, can you post your recipe for buttercream icing up on here sometime...i absolutely love this kind of stuff but have no idea how to make it

T. from GA

Meghan said...

I know exactly what you mean Jody. Thanks for sharing your thought. You reminded me today that there is so much more beyone what we know right now.

Meghan Johnson

Anonymous said...

You and Melody Ross are so in sync today!!! I love your blog..so inspiring. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, ideas, experiences. They help me so much.


Anonymous said...

This world is a really amazing and beautiful place sometimes, but when it's all said and done, it really holds nothing for me.

Jody, are you okay? Are you feeling depressed today?

A friend

Jody said...

Dear Friend~
I am not depressed today. Far from it. My heart longs for Heaven...as it does everyday. I wish more people lived and walked each day in this relaity and peace. It allows for 'true Living' in life...no matter what comes my way. I can't say it enough...there is nothing compared to living life in light of God's grace and mercy. Nothing can shake you when God is Your Rock and Salvation.
I hope that makes better sense...thanks for your concern here. =)

Cris said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. :)

Cris said...

Oh great! Now I want cheetos. LOL

Christal said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts today Jody. While you are probally right that some may not get todays post... I thought about the Dukes theme song... Your words are so true. Thanks for the reminder... Oh and the x and o cheetos are fun!

David and Bethany Rinn said...

Loved reading your story from the Bethel Alum mag....blessings to you and your sweet family!

patterns of ink said...

Very thought provoking. I confess a weakness for cheetos, but that's not what grabbed my attention. Good stuff here, Jody!

Anonymous said...

Jody - Just a regular insominiac here lol :)....Thanks for your response. Waiting on "heaven" seems so EASY and frankly, like I'm "copping out" for lack of better words. When this world gets heavy on my shoulders, it is lovely to know that the next world is heaven and will be spectactular. But am I in "denial" or avoidance by not dealing with all the cr***p that comes our way every day? I tend to pray for the strength to deal with that day by day ...... altho, it would certainly be easier to close my eyes and prayfully wait until "it was all over". Does any of this make sense??? I guess it is learning to cope and learning to hope...... Love, A friend

tammy said...

Hiya Jody~
Only you could incorporate the Dukes and Cheetos into a wonderful message on life! =) I thank you again for sharing your thoughts here and helping others {like myself} see that there really can be a point in our lives where real contentment can be achieved. I think that it helps to have someone like you { a mom} explain things instead of some difficult to understand theologian. And you are much more interesting! =) Have a great day!
God bless~
~Tammy in N.Mich~

Anonymous said...

I loved what you said about the world with all its beauty, etc, holding nothing for you. I feel exactly the same. Strange how somebody would liken that statement to being depressed.

Alex said...

Jody, I just love your blog, I sooo look forward to logging on and seeing an inspiring post like this one!!

p.s. did you know Monday was national zucchini bread day? I remember you posting about yours...I think you should make some this week in honor!! :o)

Jody said...

How appropriate...I bought some zucchini yesterday and plan to make a batch of bread today. If you lived closer, I'd have you over for a warm slice. =) Thanks for thinking of me and being inspired. That part's not me...it's God. But I still appreciate that you like Nitty.Gritty. Have a great zucchini-bread honoring week!

pudding for brains said...

Oh, yes! I agree with everything you said! Thanks so much. I just feasted on some great words...
Now today will be even better!

We do what we do for a reason!
He never said it would be easy, He only said it would be worth it!!

Anonymous said...

I am glad that I found your blog, because as a young Christian mom who is making some pretty self-sacrificing decisions, I LIKE your perspective!! Thanks for the great reminder that this world is not my home. God is my everything! I know I will meet you "up there" some day!

Erin Saeger said...

Hi Jody....I've been reading your blog for a while now, and love hearing someone else blog about their relationship and walk with God. I think I'm going to start incorporating this central part of my being into my scrapbooking blog. Thanks for your inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I just watched this and thought of you.
I knew you would love it.

patterns of ink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FlipFlop Mom said...

Beautiful ..Beautiful... If there is one thing in life I have learned... it's never to envy what others have materialistically ( is that a word.. ha ha ha).. because on the outside it might look great.. but we never know what's inside..

I'd rather have a shack on a rock then a Castle in the sand.. anyday!!!

Oh I'm not a cheeto lover at all.. but I'll surely snatch one of those cupcakes.. Ü

Jennifer said...

I think we're sharing the same bag of cheetos or something. My blog post today was on the same subject basically, in a slightly different way, but I so agree with you. And, I have an old quote by Caedmon's Call I love - "This world has nothing for me/all that I want and nothing that I need." How true, and sad, if we didn't know there is a wonderful world awaiting us.