Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Notes for 40: About Circumstances

Well, it's happened.  I'm 40 now.  In all honesty, I'm not disappointed.  My 30's were full of all sorts of 'hard', and I don't want to go back there!  I have always felt that although 40 is not young, it's not old either, and I've hoped that I would have gained some wisdom by now.  HA!  While that is questionable, I have picked up on a few truths that I hope to bring into the next decade.  Instead of listing everything in one long, drawn-out post, I've decided to make it kind of a series.  I am hoping that this will get me writing more often.  Oh, how I've missed it - and you!  I noticed that today marks exactly 5 months since I last wrote here.  No good!

So here goes.  Lesson #1:

"Your circumstances don't make you, they simply reveal who you already are."

This was a hard one to hear.  I was reading the book, "Lies Women Believe" (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) with a friend, when we came across the quote above.  Can I just say one thing?  OUCH!  Nancy didn't hold back in this book, but I'm thankful for that because we all need someone who is willing to tell us the hard truth!  I can't blame anybody or any circumstance for how I behave or respond to adverse situations. 

For example, I might say, "I wouldn't have thrown that plate across the room if he hadn't made me so angry." This puts the blame on "him".  "He" made me do it.  Yet the truth is that I threw the plate (hypothetical, okay!) because I have an anger problem and I allowed it to get the best of me. 

Or, "I ate so much because I was stressed" (not hypothetical).  But really I ate so much (cake, cookies, ice cream, chocolate) because I am addicted to sugar and it makes me feel better for like 10 minutes until I start feeling guilty and then I feel even worse (too honest?).

Or, I might say, "I was never impatient before I had kids".  Actually, I was.  Having kids just gave that trait an opportunity to arise. 

On the other side of the coin, some situations have taught me that I am stronger than I knew.  While I never want to go 'back there', I am grateful for the hard things that have made me stronger.  Some lessons are only learned by experience.  And with experience comes maturity (hopefully!).
"...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." -Romans 5:3-5
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:2-5
I also discovered that I had some 'ugly' lurking beneath the surface.  Things like discontent, self-pity, un-forgiveness and one that took me by surprise - fear, especially when it comes to my children.  I never considered myself any of those things before.  But I love what Maya Angelou says:
"When you know better, you do better.
I don't know what kind of challenges are around the corner, but dear Jesus, please let me wear my circumstances well!  So here's to 40 and to living a "better broken"!