Moody Foodie is back. Yesterday I ate so much food that I considered changing the title of my blog to, “Life is Too Short to be Skinny,” but then I thought that perhaps instead of worrying about the title, I should actually blog more than once a year, so here goes.
April. This month has a lot of different meanings for a lot of different people. April Fools Day. Spring rears its head. Or if you live in Central PA, it snows every weekend. Easter. April showers and flowers. We remember the death of Martin Luther King Jr. It is the month before school ends for some. The birthday month of some of my best friends. Tax season.
Up until last year, this month brought me back to April of 2014 when life as I knew it ended. While some equate April with growth and the changing of seasons, I associated April with death. But now April reminds me of this time a year ago when a handsome man patiently waited for me to finish up an intense month of work and single parent sleeplessness so that he could take me out on our first date. Instead of death, I equate it with hope, of new beginnings. It’s amazing how perspective can change things.
God has taught me many things about perspective over the last four years. When my ex-husband left in 2014, I was devastated. Angry. I felt deprived, victimized. I couldn’t understand how a good God could allow this to happen. I sat with those feelings for a long time. I questioned everything. I didn’t think I could ever find joy again. But by the grace of God, I did. He sat with me in the darkness. He wrestled with me in the hard questions. He slowly led me to a place of rooting my security solidly in Him and there I found safety, joy, hope. He reminded that in the midst of pain and grief, I had so much to be grateful for. The gift of motherhood. A safe, loving, haven to live in, to heal, and to recover. A community of people who breathed life back into my soul. A job where my skill set is valued and I am nurtured holistically. God showed me that no matter my circumstance, I can be grateful and thus find joy in the here and now. During the weeks, sometimes months, when my toddler would not sleep, my joy was in the beauty of watching the sun rise over the fields at 4:30 in the morning. In the moments that I mourned the loss of my husband, it was in the companionship of my mother as we sipped coffee together on the front porch. When I missed my home, it in was the gift of having a warm bed to lay my head on every night at my parents’ house.
Right now I am in a season of overwhelming joy. God has been faithful beyond what I could ever ask, imagine, or deserve. I have my own home again, where I get to live with my healthy, spirited four year old daughter, and my strong, courageous, capable husband, who loves us fiercely and speaks life to our spirits every day.
But you know what? I still need to choose gratitude and joy. Because even though God has restored what was lost (and then some!) life is still hard. There are days when it all feels completely out of control, because juggling 3 jobs, parenting, new family adjustments, and a plethora of other transitions, events, and responsibilities is no joke. So some days we cancel life. We stay home, we snuggle, we leave the messy house unclean and the work unfinished. Some days my very wise husband holds his type A, control freak wife by the shoulders and reminds her to stop, to breathe, to give thanks.
We live in a society that breeds comparison and discontentment. We are constantly told that we need to be more attractive and charismatic in order to have value. We need to have more and be more in order to be successful. Social media broadcasts images of what happiness and perfection (supposedly) look like. Our jobs need to be more glamorous, our houses cleaner, and our lives staged like a magazine shoot. If we don’t fit into the mold, we are misfits. It’s easy to jump on the hamster wheel of striving for something that’s not real. Constantly chasing more and better breeds discontentment and causes us to miss on the beauty and joy right in front of us. We miss out. And guess what? Our loved ones miss out too. Because when we are constantly seeking the next thing, we don’t have the capacity or the awareness to love the people in our lives (and the ones God sends to us) well. Life doesn’t have to look a certain way to have value and beauty. A perfect life doesn’t exist.
I am preaching to the choir here. I am type A to the core. And my perfectionist inner self wants my life to be alphabetized and organized into neatly stacked piles on an aesthetically pleasing shelving unit that matches the walls of my neutrally colored, clutter and knick-knack (I HATE KNICK-KNACKS) free home office. But four years ago this month, I learned that life is messy and short and that you never know what is around the corner. I had a plan, but despite my best efforts, my plans changed. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that God is here and that He has put beauty in my life, in the big things and in the little things. So I will gaze into my husband’s eyes a little longer and squeeze my sassy four year old a little harder, because I refuse to pursue the next thing so hard that I miss the beauty that’s right in front of me. I will share my story with those who want to hear it and I will lend a shoulder to cry on for those who need it, because my hope and my prayer is that my pain is turned into purpose. So may we seek to be present. To be grateful. To love deeply. To laugh with each other happy times and to walk with each other through pain and darkness. Because life is messy, life is hard, but life is beautiful.
Side note: my intent is not to belittle anyone’s pain or grief. I am aware that the pain that I have experienced is much milder than what so many others have/are experiencing and how blessed I am to have the resources that I do. I also believe that it’s important to sit with your pain, your grief, your brokenness. Feel deeply and ask the hard questions for as long as you need to. I would just encourage you to be wary of getting stuck there. You have value. You are loved.