12/24/17

For the first time in several months I had a moment of frustration. I’ve been on a really amazing run of peace in all my circumstances, joy and hope about my future, and excitement for the opportunities God has been providing for me. But this evening, an unfortunate consequence of a poor decision I made a few years ago seemed to be haunting me again, bringing fear back into my mind. I worried that if this situation wasn’t handled the way I thought it logically should, that I would have to bear the weight of this inconvenience for a while longer. That feeling of frustration started boiling within me and as it was coming to the surface I could almost feel a spring of hot tears burning behind my eyes.

I knew that if I let myself go down that spiral, it would ruin my Christmas Eve night with my family, and would put me in a mood that might even carry into tomorrow. Recognizing this, I went for a moment alone. I needed something positive to fill my mind with, that would replace these negative thoughts and redirect my perspective.

I turned to Matthew 5 and 6 where Jesus talks about dealing with anger and loving your enemies. While I don’t necessarily have enemies, the principle was valuable. In these chapters he talks about not even thinking of someone else as a fool, and not allowing anger to grow in your heart towards another person. It also says we shouldn’t repay anyone evil, if they do unkind or evil things to us.

These ways of dealing with conflict don’t come naturally. Evidently, they tend to go against our nature, as our first instinct is usually to put up our dukes and defend ourselves. But we never find peace dealing with conflict that way, and I want peace. So, I let those words of wisdom sink in and began to pray. I prayed that I would find peace in my circumstances, that God would help me deal with whatever the consequences would be, and guide me through it so that everything would be okay. And I also asked Him to shape my attitude to make me full of grace, forgiving, patient, and free, so that this situation wouldn’t frustrate me or make me anxious anymore.

It was like the weight immediately lifted off my chest.

Sometimes we are faced with challenging and frustrating situations that we cannot control. In these times, our mental and emotional peace can turn into uncertainty and pain. Although we may not be able to escape our consequences, we can always change the way we perceive them. Sometimes that means seeking wisdom, so we have a light to guide us back to positivity and peace. Prayer is a helpful tool that can help us to release those negative feelings, and get us to a state of serenity. To me, that’s incredible, because although nothing changed from the moment that got me frustrated until now, my perspective did.

The Silver Lining

Today it felt like 2017 was not going the way I hoped it would. I started off the year thinking about all the things I wanted to do differently than last year. I wanted to change my attitude to be more grateful, I wanted to have a better work-life balance, and wanted to become more self-disciplined and inspired. But it’s the end of March and it feels as if so much time has already gone by and I still don’t feel satisfied with the level of improvement.

It’s surprising how many opportunities can be hindered by tiny obstacles. You’d think a pebble is just this tiny, insignificant object with no purpose or value, but throw it into a pond and its collision affects the entire body of water.

Upset Over Little Things

I was really bummed about something trivial and got into such a bad mood about it. Earlier today, I randomly checked out a video about how to deal with bad days. The advice was to “lean into it” and “accept it” but not to sit in it for long. As I approached hour three, I still felt stuck in a gloomy pessimism, and all the thoughts in my head were in shadow: Missed opportunities. Falling behind. Wasted time trying to get from place to place. Not enough balance between “must dos” and “want to dos.” I know I shouldn’t be turning a cluster of little setbacks into a meteor shower but sometimes I get stuck.

Important Lessons from Bad Days

I know I can’t walk away from this in peace, without forcing myself to find the lessons from this. I don’t believe it most of the time but the truth is that every problem in our life gives us the opportunity to learn something, and grow as people. If I pray for patience, God won’t simply make me patient. He will put me in a situation where my patience is tested to its limits, and in those moments I usually fail the test because I’m not seeing the big picture. But when the dark cloud passes, I begin to see the silver lining. Here is where God’s teachable moment comes in.

The Silver Lining

When we get stuck in a rut, we should be careful what we say to anyone we come across until we’ve worked through the frustration. Being in a bad mood and then communicating with people is usually a bad idea. Harsh words slip and they can’t be taken back. Take some time alone to work through your angry or frustrating thoughts.

Remember that this moment is going to pass. If you miss an opportunity, set up another one to make up for it. Having something good to look forward too can improve your attitude.

Breathe. Try to find a quiet place to be alone and breathe. If writing helps, let go of your thoughts on paper. Release them from your grip so you can take hold of something better. One of the best things to do when you’re upset is to be in nature. Today was a rainy, cold day, so being outside is the last place I wanted to be. So I turned my bed into a messy pile of comfort and sat in it until I started to feel better. (Then I bought a shawarma and watched a Netflix thriller *thumbs up*).

If you meditate, meditate. If you pray, pray. Quiet your mind. Wait for the silence to take over. Share your concerns with God and listen for His response. Ask Him to help you see the big picture and give you the strength to climb out of the rut and into a brighter perspective of this moment.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have bad days. Look for the silver lining. Wait for it…

Old Year’s Day & 2017 Goals

Hey readers,

It’s been a while (totally did not stick to my goal of writing more online)! I’ve been writing consistently in a hardcopy journal but I have not been blogging. I guess my year has been full of reflections of the personal kind. I spent a lot of time thinking about the mistakes I’ve made and who I want to become. The process was discouraging to say the least, especially when I saw how much I continued to struggle to be that ideal person. Perhaps too much time was spent thinking and fretting, and not enough time in action… but this is one lesson I plan to take forward in the New Year.

I love my family. My parents are awesome. Every year they organize a little family hangout where we go over some important moments of the past year and share our plans for the upcoming 12 months. While many of the items on the list are personal, I’ll share a few big moments from 2016 and some goals for 2017.

In 2016 I…

  • Cut off my long hair and went natural (haven’t embraced my natural curls since I was 11). I learned not to depend on my hair and how I look to feel attractive.
  • Joined the gym and stuck with it.
  • Started my first career job with salary & benefits. (God is teaching me to be patient and stick to the work even if the reward is not immediate.)
  • Overcame my uncontrollable anxiety! Thank the Lord!
  • Withdrew from unhealthy social settings that were turning me into a negative and worrisome person. Discovered peace in this decision, clarity in which relationships are important and worth keeping, and a more positive perspective.
  • Spent two amazing months with my gramma.
  • Went on a lot of fun adventures.

Although 2016 was a “numb-ish” year, I believe 2017 will be full of much more joy as things are finally coming into their right place.

 In 2017 I plan to…

  • Learn to be content & joyful with where I am in life, instead of worrying about the future (Trust God’s plan).
  • Do things that will help me grow spiritually and strengthen my relationship with God and the Church.
  • Kill fear and doubt by reminding myself of God’s promises.
  • Learn to be brave and confident in making decisions.
  • Save money!!!!! Focus on my “adult-ing” goals.
  • Write more!!!!! Take more pictures.
  • Go on tons of adventures all-year-long.

When I look back at 2016 I don’t feel a lot of excitement about it, but that surprisingly doesn’t sadden me or make me feel like I wasted my time. There was a verse I read that came into my mind when I was talking to a friend Friday night, and the verse goes,

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die… a time to weep, and a time to laugh… a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3)

This past year may have been a season of struggle and failure, but one day I will realize what the purpose of this 2016 season was.

Reflecting on the past may be painful and making plans for the future may be difficult to envision, but I’m pretty sure the reason that human beings have a brain and a conscience is to give us insight to who we are, how we behave, what we say and think, and invent methods to grow and do better in the future. I hope your 2016 was full of life-changing experiences, and challenges that serve as useful life lessons to be learned. I hope 2017 will be your chance to take those lessons and make something out of them.

I hope the New Year brings plentiful opportunities to laugh, grow, listen, teach, help, serve, love, give, and be thankful. All the best for the new year, God bless!

Love,

Sarah