Monthly Archives: September 2015

One Shot

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In the last little while, a lot of things have reminded me that life is short. We think we have all the time in the world to do what we want to do, to achieve our goals, to take that next step, to finally be happy. Each day, we say we will do it tomorrow.

But we forget that life is short.

My friend in Toronto has a cousin who just lost her father and three young children when their car was hit by a drunk driver.

Someone I have known for many years is coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis.

Life is short.

You see, we go about our lives thinking there is always more time. But we are not promised tomorrow or next week or next month or next year.

All we have is right now. All we have is today.

And these reminders of how short life is have made me realize that I don’t want to waste today. I want to live every day like it is my last.

I spent years in jobs that made me miserable, where I’d go home in tears or completely frustrated. I’ve spent time with people who put me down or treated me poorly. I’ve been in relationships with people who weren’t right for me or who didn’t appreciate me. I’ve let people stomp all over me and take advantage of me.

From each of these situations, good has come. I have learned from them, grown from them and become stronger because of them. Most importantly I’ve decided that I don’t want to waste time by being in those situations anymore.

I’d rather make next to nothing in a job I love than make lots of money in a job that results in my misery. I’d rather be single and happy than with someone who makes me feel small and unworthy. I’d rather stand up for myself and deal with any backlash than let someone use me as their door mat.

My biggest fear is wasting time. Wasting time worrying, or obsessing over what others think of me. Wasting time wishing for something different instead of appreciating and loving what I have. Wasting time with people who make me feel bad instead of giving everything of myself to those who love me.

We only get one shot at this life. It’s up to us to make it as good as it can possibly be, for ourselves and for others.

There is a man I see often at the gym I work at, and he is always in a bad mood. He hardly ever smiles and is constantly complaining. Nothing is ever right, and he seems to hate everyone he comes in contact with.

And I don’t get it.

I don’t understand how someone can be so miserable. I don’t understand why they can’t find some good in life. It sounds like I am judging this person, but I truly am not. I truly just don’t understand.

I know life is hard. It’s complicated. It often doesn’t go the way we think it should. Trust me, I know that very well. I could easily look at some of the things I’ve been through, especially my battle with depression and simply decide that there is no reason to be happy.

But I only get one shot at this life. And I refuse to live it in constant negativity.

Instead I choose to take the hurts, the anger, the betrayals, and the struggles, and learn from them. I choose to allow them to make me stronger, and I allow them to motivate me to create positivity and love and goodness.

When the day comes for me to leave this world, I want to know that I gave it my best shot. I want to know that I took every opportunity that came my way, that I followed my dreams and pursued my goals, that I helped others and gave of myself, that I loved and allowed myself to be loved.

You only get one shot at this life.

On my death bed, I don’t want to look back at my life and regret the chances I didn’t take or the words I didn’t say. I don’t want to regret spending my life with people who weren’t right for me or didn’t make me happy. I don’t want to have had a career that I hated or goals that I let slip away.

You only get one shot at this life.

And although this life is hard, filled with pain and brokenness, we have a choice in how we live it. We can be overcome by sorrow and negativity and spend our time unhappy and living with regret, or we can take the best and leave the rest. We can choose to be happy and learn from the bad. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who bring us joy and build us up. We can choose to build others up and offer a hand to those in need. We can choose to chase our dreams and be the best that we can be.

Because we only get one shot at this life.

Don’t waste it.

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Never Alone

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Last week was rough. My depression hit and beat me down. It was bad and left me weak and bruised. But as I always do, I got back up and fought.

It wasn’t a surprise hit. I had felt it coming for a little over a week. I readied myself for battle, took precautions and did all the right things to keep it from making contact. I told a friend what happening and asked for prayer, I got up and went to work every day, I kept myself busy and tried not to be alone, I did my best to eat well, and I kept exercising.

But this disease is harsh, fierce and unbelievably cruel, so even though I took all the necessary steps to defend myself, it managed to take me down. The climax was one horrific night of tears, anxiety and zero sleep.

I’ve realized over the years of dealing with depression that sometimes the best way of getting through is to just allow myself to take the beating and feel what I need to feel. So that is what I did that night. The next morning I saw my counsellor and once again started the journey to recover.

One of the worst things about depression is how alone it makes you feel. It creates an unbearable isolation that is difficult to break free of.

In the midst of my struggle and feelings of loneliness last week, I had a dream that brought such comfort and peace.

Dreams can be quite interesting. Sometimes they make no sense at all. But sometimes, like the one I had, they can be beautiful reminders at just the right moment.

I dreamt that I was writing songs for Taylor Swift (yes, I know that’s crazy), and I was writing a song called ‘Never Alone’. It started out as a song about being with your soulmate, but as I continued to write in the dream, it became about something completely different.

It became a song about God, and how because of Him, I am never alone. It illustrated how He is always there and will never leave me.

I awoke from that dream feeling protected and loved. It was a reminder that I desperately needed. That it doesn’t matter how bad my depression gets or how physically isolated I feel, I am never alone. He stands beside me, holding my hand, feeling all of my pain, fighting my illness with me.

A few days after that dream, I had another reminder that God is always with me. After my grandfather passed in July, we had bookmarks made with his picture and a Bible verse on the front, and his obituary on the back. That day, as I opened the current book I am reading, I stopped to look at the bookmark, and I read the verse below Papa’s picture.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

I am never alone. God is always with me. My Papa took a moment to remind me of that from heaven.

This life is not easy. We live in a broken world that is filled with sorrow and pain.

But every moment of pain we feel, He feels too.

Every moment of sorrow, He cries with us.

And because of Him, we have love. Our world may be filled with hurt, but it is also filled with love.

His love that will shine through each of us if we allow it to.

His love that will make us feel whole again.

His love that will strengthen us.

We are never alone.

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Revelation

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Have you ever had a revelation? A moment when suddenly things make sense? It can feel like someone smacked you on the head and your brain begins to work again. Puzzle pieces that confused and frustrated you before now slide into place as things become clear?

I had a revelation a few nights ago.

It happened while I was reading a book called Kisses from Katie, which is about an American girl who moved to Uganda after graduating high school. Her intention was to only stay for a year, but she fell in the love with the country and the people, particularly the children. She ended up buying a house, and starting an organization to send children to school, as well as feed them. On top of that, she took in and adopted 13 orphan girls and instantly became a mom.

It’s an amazing and inspiring story that I recommend reading. This book has helped me in my faith, as well as providing the revelation I experienced the other night.

Things have not been great with me the last few weeks. In one week, my grandfather passed away and my closest friend in Windsor moved 3 hours away. And I admit that I have had a difficult time recovering from both of these things.

As time went on, my mood continued downward. I was tired and unmotivated to do anything but get up and go to work. I was stressed and lonely, and dangerously close to falling into a depression. I tried hard to fight it by doing all the things I am supposed to do. I made plans to see people and spend time with family. I ate healthy and tried to work out more. But I could not lift my mood.

My mind raced at night with various frustrations and worries. I was restless, but at the same time constantly tired. However, sleep evaded me many nights.

I was doing everything I could to make myself feel better. I wanted to get back to my positive, ‘glass half full’ self. But it felt like it was just out of reach.

Then came the revelation last Wednesday night.

Suddenly I knew exactly why I was feeling down and couldn’t pull myself out of the slump.

I realized that for the last two months I had been living just for me. I was focused on myself and my worries and my stress and my hurts and my disappointments.

I wasn’t doing anything for anyone else.

Life was all about me.

And that’s why I couldn’t pull myself out of my down mood.

I am someone who loves to help and loves to serve. I love to take of others. That is when I feel fulfilled. That is when I am happiest. And I haven’t done that in months.

No wonder things don’t feel right in my world.

I need to get outside of myself and out of my own head. I need to focus on others.

Just to be clear, I am not saying there anything wrong with taking some time to focus on yourself. It is extremely important to take care of yourself and remain healthy. And we all need time when we can step away from the craziness of life to explore our own thoughts, emotions and ambitions.

However, getting completely wrapped up in yourself for too long takes a turn to unhealthy. Being trapped in your own head can cause anxiety and stress, and can lead to things being blown out of proportion.

And focusing on only “me” will result in a feeling of emptiness and loneliness. The more focused I was on myself, the less motivated I became to do anything to improve my situation. I got lost in my own head and couldn’t see beyond my own thoughts.

For example, one of things I have been struggling with is finding good, deep friendships in Windsor. That has left me feeling lonely and desperately wanting to meet people. But I haven’t been doing anything new or different to try to meet people.

What I need to do is pull myself out of my longing for meaningful relationships, and find a organization that I can volunteer for. Chances are, as I focus on helping others, I am naturally going to make new friends with people who are also volunteering.

Once I start co-leading a women’s Bible study at my new church (which is happening in a couple of weeks), I will meet new people and have opportunities to form friendships.

I know once I refocus my attention and pull away from myself, things will begin to fall into place.

I know God hears my prayers and is ready and willing to answer them. I just need to remember the part I have to play to receive my desired answers. He’s been throwing opportunities at me and I’ve been missing them since I was so focused on myself.

I am incredibly grateful for the revelation I received 5 nights ago. It was a wonderful reminder of who I am and why I am here.

I am not here for me.