Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Power In Purpose and Positivity

I have been thinking a lot lately about my purpose.  The loss of Peyton has had a profound impact on my life.  It's not that I am without purpose.  I have a husband and a nine year old daughter.  My family is a purpose.  There's that constant ache for something more.  I was a full time caregiver for a very sick child for years.  I went from full time working-outside-the-home mom to full time caregiver to full time I'm not sure what.  I have been doing some soul searching as I navigate the waters of grief, realizing along the way that I'm not sure when the appropriate time will be to take on any new ventures.  Will there ever be a right time?  Is now the time?  Three months from now?
There are two things that have struck me pretty hard lately.  The first is that there is power in having a purpose.  To fully know what it is that you are being called to do is powerful.  Without a sense of purpose, I find that I merely move throughout my day from one task to the next.  I get by and, yes, I have moments of happiness, but if there's no sense of calling on my life, my days lack direction.  I feel like I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next in life.  I don't want to do things just for the sake of filling a void.  That's not "purpose".  If I have the luxury to sit back and discern what it is that I am "supposed" to be doing, then I would rather wait until the opportunity arises where I can fulfill that true calling, than to fill my time with meaningless things.  The purpose I seek is the purpose God intends for me.  I feel, now, like I know what that purpose is, but it's not something I can take on immediately.  It will involve careful planning and a lot of hard work.  It will put me out of my comfort zone and push me further than I can imagine right now.  It will also involve a lot of prayer.  But there is power in discovering this because I feel like I know that this is what God would want me to pursue.
The second thing is that there is power in having a positive attitude.  If you've followed my blog or know me personally, you know that our journey, particularly over the past 7 years, has not been an easy one.  Our journey is unique to us, but we are not alone.  There are other families who have suffered loss.  Most people will at some point in their life experience a challenging situation.  The attitude with which you face your daily journey will have an enormous impact on your personal well being and on how you face those challenges.
I have lived a portion of my life feeling disconnected from God and feeling bitter and negative about a lot of things that happened in my life.  Over the past few years, I have developed a much closer relationship with God than I have ever had before.  I have faced challenges that might be overwhelming and unbearable were it not for that relationship.  I am human and I do have a range of emotions regarding the journey we've faced.  But one thing is for certain - I would not be where I am right now if it weren't for the fact that I know that God is with me, that He is for me, and that He wants the absolute best for me.  He doesn't promise a lifetime of joy and happiness.  We are told in scripture:
"32 A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home.  You will leave me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  {John 16:32-22, NIV}
God is far bigger and far greater than any of the challenges we face here on Earth.  There will be a day when none of this matters - when we will be with Him.  Yes, our trials and sorrows may be great here on Earth, but there will be a day when those sorrows cease to exist.  There is great comfort in that.  I miss Peyton more than you can possibly imagine, but she is with Him already and she is not suffering and I can't help but be joyful for her.

Maybe you have received disheartening news.  Perhaps you found something out that you weren't expecting.  It could be that you've been facing an uphill journey that seems endless.  I don't know your situations.  I only know mine.  Each of us face challenges and those challenges take on many forms.  Our definition of how serious those challenges are is relative to our range of experience.  What is devastating to one person may be a bump in the road to someone else.  No matter what the challenge, the fact is that we still have to live - we have to face each day.

The question is - how do you face your daily struggles?  For me, no matter my attitude, the fact is that at the end of the day, my six year old daughter is gone.  I can't change that.  I can either start my day devastated and in tears {and there are days when I feel like doing that} or I can start my day off thanking God for a new day, for a fresh start, for new mercies each morning, and for the gift of my life that I might go on to fulfill a purpose that is greater than myself.  I can either be hateful towards God for taking my child from me {I am not} or I can be grateful for the nearly seven years I had with her, thanking Him for the opportunity to be a part of her life and for the opportunity to learn about Him through her.  I can be bitter about the lack of answers to the questions we have about a diagnosis or I can accept that we did everything we possibly could for her with the information we had in the time we had with her to do the best we possibly could for her.  I can blame God for all of the misery heaped on me in my 40 years or I can seek forgiveness for the time I spent distancing myself from Him and accept that there is nothing God gives me that He hasn't already equipped me for.  I could go on and on.  Which path do you think I have chosen?  Which path are you on in your journey?  The path you choose to live on isn't simply something that you've decided in your mind.  It's a choice to live outwardly in a certain way.  Your actions and attitudes will be a reflection of the choice that you've made.

There are several quotes from Norman Vincent Peale which are so powerful:
"Watch your manner of speech if you wish to develop a peaceful state of mind.  Start each day by affirming peaceful, contented and happy attitudes and your days will be pleasant and successful."
"Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure.  The way you think about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it.  You are overcome by the fact because you think you are."
and simply:
"Change your thoughts and you change your world."
Powerful stuff!!

Tomorrow I will be hosting my weekly Thankful Thursday link up.  There is a reason I began doing this 1 year and 41 weeks ago.  It began at a time when Peyton was extremely ill.  It was a very negative time in life.  I felt like I was being consumed by the stress and negative energy of what was going on.  We had dealt with a special needs and medically fragile child for years but there was so much going on, I thought it was going to be the end of me...until I started forcing myself to look for the goodness in everyday life.  Every Thursday I have, without fail, posted a Thankful Thursday post in order to give thanks for the good things that I am seeing in my life.  It doesn't matter how difficult the journey is.  I stop each and every week to list at least three things that I am thankful for.  Even in the midst of extreme sorrow, there are things to be thankful for.  We met with Peyton's team of doctors on a Wednesday to discuss how to proceed with her care, knowing that she was going to die.  I wrote a Thankful Thursday post the very next day.  Peyton's funeral was the following Thursday.  There was a Thankful Thursday post that day too.

It's about a change of attitude.  A change of heart.  If you cannot see the goodness that surrounds you, then I am afraid that you are going to be a very miserable person.  There is goodness surrounding you.  At the very least, please know that God is with you in your trials, even if you feel nothing else.  That alone is huge.  Being a positive person takes a lot of practice - but try it.  You will be so grateful for the change it makes in your life.  I do not know where I would be today without it.

It comes full circle, too.  Without that positive heart attitude, you can't possibly fulfill God's plan for you - your purpose.  Do you want more from life?  Do you want to live the life God desires for you?  What's your current attitude?  Does it need adjusting?  Take baby steps.  Think of three things right now that you are thankful for.  Do that again tonight.  And in the morning.  And every day.  Keep on doing it until you believe and can truly see that there is goodness surrounding you, even in the midst of the biggest storms of your life.

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