This blog post, Overcoming Part 3, I would like to discuss "thinking". Our thinking is so important to the health of our hearts, minds, emotions and spiritual lives. The Lord gave us a mind with which we are to think the thoughts He thinks. We have the mind of Christ, I Corinthians 2:16. The scriptures tell us that, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:" Proverbs 23:7a
When we were lost and without Christ, we were under the bondage of "wrong thinking". We thought that the way to happiness was in pursuing our own desires. We thought that if we did everything we wanted to do, everything we dreamed of, we would finally find happiness and fulfillment. Once we came to Christ we began to see that the only way to find our life was to loose it (Matthew 10:39). The only way to have fulfillment was to give our lives fully to the cause of Christ.
I've struggled with thinking sad and depressing thoughts. It's so easy to get sucked into. I mean, seriously, when you look at this caregiving thing.....it can be depressing. I'm not always good at keeping my thoughts under control.
Here are some areas of thinking that I've had to bring under control.
1. I can't do this another month, week, day, minute. That's right, I really can't, but the Lord can. After all, aren't we called to full and complete dependence on Him? He doesn't call us to more than we can bear. But, He can and does, stretch us to the very limits though. I've seen it happen time and again in my own life. I have learned that when those thoughts hit me, as they surely will, I must take time out. Time away from the difficult situation. I may take 30 minutes at my sewing machine, 20 minutes to read, 10 minutes on the back porch to breathe deeply or 5 minutes alone in my closet....literally. Sometimes a short break is not enough, and I need a few hours. I make arrangements for breaks. And on the days that are really hard, I just tell myself, "You can make it to lunch. Then you can rest." Or "You can make it for another 30 minutes." Sometimes, you have break the day into manageable bits. On those days, a nap certainly wouldn't hurt!
2. No one understands. Sure, no one really, truly gets it. I mean, after all, the illnesses are different, the disabilities are different, the needs and amounts of time and work are different. But, what I have found is that there are some who do get the general idea of how I feel and what I am experiencing. I find myself gravitating toward those who live a life similar to mine. Finding that there are others who get what I am experiencing and live it each day, helps me to know that if they can survive, surely I will too.
3. I can't. I can't do this, I can't do that. Limits, limits, limits. But, honestly, I can do the things that are really important to me. I may have to limit my activities, but if I choose wisely, I can do some of the things I've wanted to do. The help that I have in my home weekly, 4 hours, 2 times a week, have allowed me to get my "regular errands" done. Grocery, hair appointments, dental appointments, post office, etc. But, in order to do additional things like taking our youngest child to the Rodeo, I've had to ask for additional help from my children. I've found that I can ask friends to drop something in the mail box, run by the bank, pick up 3-4 items from the grocery, etc. so that I can use some of my time off for a fun outing. I'm still working on this....and I'm learning to prioritize. Not easy for any of us, right? A friend once shared with me that we change the things we can....nothing wrong with that. I mean, if there is something particular that is bothering you, causing stifling limits that you can't imagine living with, and you can change them, then do. Other limits we will just have to learn to accept God's grace for.
4. I want my old life back. Ok, the truth is, the is the one that I have had the hardest time controlling. Why is that? Because, I had an AWESOME life. My kids were great, my husband was great, I loved my role as wife and mother, I enjoyed home schooling....I was comfortable. Our family went on vacations together, we visited family, we enjoyed friendships and times together. Life was good. But, you know, sometimes things change. I can't understand why God chooses some to suffer illnesses that change everything and chooses some to continue their lives as they had always planned. You know, I won't ever have my old life back....and that is sad. Thankfully, the Lord does give us memories to carry with us. My husband and I frequently talk about the "old days" before the diagnosis that changed our lives. I am trying to learn to live the life the Lord has chosen for me. I'm not trying to be depressing, but knowing that the only things that you can share and experience with your husband will have to take place in your home, or maybe even from his hospital bed. It is limiting. But, on the other hand, we are both learning to enjoy the simple things in life. A shared conversation late at night, an old black and white movie that leaves us both in tears, a paragraph from a book, a belly laugh over a funny slip of the lip or a funny clip from YouTube.
I want to learn to live a life of gratitude. I do have much to be grateful for. I have a family that loves me, a husband that loves and appreciates me. We are still able to communicate in many ways. I have a church family who cares and shows their love for us in so many ways. We have a roof above our heads, food in the pantry and provision each day for our needs. We have a Heavenly Father who sees and knows us. A Father in heaven who gives grace for the moment. I am grateful that I am healthy enough to serve my husband and family.
My thinking is not always right, but I know that the Lord is faithful to continue teaching me the lessons He wants me to learn. This doesn't mean that each day I live will be filled with nothing but gratitude....but that is what I am praying for. In those times of deepest sadness, and difficult times, I pray that the Lord will open the eyes of my heart to reasons for gratefulness.
My prayer is that my heart's mind will focus on the things of Christ in my times of trial and testing...on Christ Himself.
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
think on these things.