If you follow my postings you already know about my “love affair” with Max Lucado. In my opinion, no other modern day spiritual writer touches on the affairs of the soul in such a compassionate and human manner. His words reach into my heart like the comforting embrace of a friend. So I was overjoyed to receive a copy of his Grace For The Moment – 365-Day Journaling Devotional from my husband for Christmas.
In the front of this book, as part of the introductory section, are four pages of writing with which I was already familiar from a previous book. They are what I refer to as “The Choice” pages and whenever I need some extra grounding in my day I go to them and take a few minutes to read them. I would like to share these daily choices which, as Max Lucado explains, because of Calvary we are free to choose.
I CHOOSE LOVE…..
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness.
I choose love. Today I will love God, and what God loves.
I CHOOSE JOY…..
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical ….. the tool of the lazy thinker.
I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I CHOOSE PEACE…..
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I CHOOSE PATIENCE…..
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I CHOOSE KINDNESS…..
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I CHOOSE GOODNESS…..
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I CHOOSE FAITHFULNESS…..
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I CHOOSE GENTLENESS…..
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.
If I raise my voice may it be only in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.
If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I CHOOSE SELF-CONTROL…..
I am a spiritual being…… After this Body is dead, my spirit will soar.
I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith.
I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ.
I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. To these I commit my day.
If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace.
And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on His pillow and rest.
When God Whispers Your Name
I’m never quite sure what happens to me when my normal routine is disrupted. All I know is that it seems to take me forever to re-find myself, to get back into my everyday patterns and the activities that I love doing. Sometimes the disruption is a “going away” thing; a trip, a vacation, a retreat. Sometimes the disruption is caused internally; an emotional hiccup, a hormonal hill, an unexpected trauma. The journey back is more difficult when the disruption is a “double-whammy” – a trip AND an internal shift.
Last weekend Richard and I took a trip. We mounted our much-loved Harley and hit the road. First stop was Orlando where we spent the night and participated in Night of Joy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (That experience will be a posting of its own.) We had a great ride and even though we encountered some of the usual backed-up traffic on I-4, we arrived safely.
On Saturday morning we slept in a little after our late night at the concerts and, after breakfast, we got back on Harley fully kitted out in our rain gear. There was a steady drizzle of rain which wasn’t too bad, but the closer we got to Tampa the harder it came down. We were glad to reach our destination – the lovely luxurious Westin on the Causeway – change into dry clothes, order up some room service, and just relax. Later in the evening we took a cab to Mass at Christ the King church, then crossed the road to eat at GrillSmith on South Dale Mabry Hwy. (Another separate posting on this experience!)
On Sunday morning we prepared for the other highlight of this trip: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Dallas Cowboys. Richard and I are die-hard Cowboys’ fans and this was a great game to be able to travel to. The weather was reasonable even though showers were promised. We had our rain ponchos and what’s a bit of water if you can get to see the “Boys”!! (The game will be another posting!)
We happily prepared for our trip home (the “Boys” won after an exciting game that could have gone in either direction until the fourth quarter). Apart from a short we-are-lost detour at the beginning of the trip (unfamiliar city roads and road construction!), and a small shower closer to home, we had another great ride and arrived home safely at about 10pm.
Now that was a fabulous weekend; no hiccups, no problems, and a very happy ending. It just carried a simple “disruption” tag to my usual routine. So why on earth did I wake up on Monday morning feeling like I was sliding down some treacherous slippery hill of grayness? I guess if I could answer that question, and especially if I could offer a solution, I could get very rich very easily!
Thank God that I have done a lot of personal growth and spiritual growth work over the last thirty years. At least this puts me in a position to be able to actually recognize that I was on this slippery slope. It allows me to know myself enough that I am aware that geographical and time disruptions to my routine affect me in ways that perhaps other people do not experience. I am also willing to put a name to that slippery slope, that most people avoid because they feel it carries too much stigma: depression.
I feel blessed that I have built a support system of incredible friends and that I know to reach out no matter how small the hiccup or hill may seem. I do not want my hills to grow into menacing mountains that I cannot surmount. I also feel blessed and grateful that the depression that I suffer from occasionally is not acute and does not require medication. I also recognize that if I did not have the self awareness that I have worked so hard to achieve, and if I were not willing to take action and ask for support and help, I could easily spiral into deeper depression.
Many people out there, especially those in the male category, refuse to even consider that they may be depressed. I think it is time to concede that as human beings, with all the in-built emotions and hormones (yes, you guys have crazy hormones too!!) and all the external stress that we deal with on a daily basis, it is normal for us to have “ups and downs”. In our “ups” we are high on happiness and excitement. In our “downs” our happiness is pushed down, de-pressed.
Sometimes it requires nothing spectacular to de-press our feelings. It can be something as simple as the end of a special occasion (a trip, a celebration) or even a split second thought or memory that triggers a series of other thoughts that take us down. And sometimes all or any of this can take place on such a subconscious level that we cannot put our finger on what is causing our “down”, our de-pression.
So on Monday my plan had been to get up and immediately hit the computer and share all the wonderful experiences of the weekend and whatever else the Muse presented. But somewhere on that slippery slope Muse had jumped off the wagon and I was left with “gray”. Plan of action: pray, call a friend, go meet with some people who didn’t think I was crazy and who understood exactly what I was going through.
And that is how I am very blessed. I have gathered around me people who are available to me, who care about me enough to give me their time and their invaluable friendship, who are willing to listen, to share their own experience in similar circumstances. With their help, it has taken me four days to fully come back up and feel normally enthusiastic about each day.
I have been patient and gentle with myself. I have not “self-bashed” myself because I haven’t written anything since Saturday. I have allowed myself to be “lazy” and focused on doing just the absolute essentials on my schedule. And lo! the Muse is back. More postings to follow!!!!