It Didn’t Happen All at Once

It Didn’t Happen All at Once

It didn’t happen all at once.

I just finished my third glass of water for the day and for me that’s a lot. Until a few months ago that wasn’t near the top of my priority list. But we get older…wiser…and realise these bodies we say we put in service of God should preferably last for a few more decades if we want to do something worthwhile while alive.

And so I changed.

But it happened slowly.

The Idea

Here’s what I knew: I wanted a healthy lifestyle. I wanted to do it all…it didn’t have to be perfect…it just had to be good. But I was so out of balance one would think selfhelp books and blogs didn’t exist.

I saw others getting it right. And I don’t mean the ones posting fake pictures on Instagram. I mean people I KNEW who managed to live optimally in one, many or at least a few areas of life:

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Career
  • Passion
  • Goal setting

Comparing oneself to others is definitely not the way to live, but seeing proof that you can do better is sometimes the motivation I need…to create a goal…to realise your excuses for not even SETTING goals (nevermind reaching them) are really lame.

The Process-The Fight

So I realised what I wanted. Not what society says I should have. What I knew to align with MY purpose on earth. I had the picture and then it came to fighing for it.

Wow – fighting. I didn’t realise it was a fight until I typed it just now.

I had to fight with myself a lot of times:

  • Getting up early to spend time with Him or go for a jog (I don’t gym…hate the places…sorry peeps.)
  • Stopping myself from believing the lies that have been simmering in my mind for years. The lie of not being good enough at something has often been my reason for not attempting a new project…only to feel guilty later on for not pursuing His dream for me. And then fearing that I will simply fail at the next thing. Fear-Inactivity-Guilt: A vicious cycle I had to IDENTIFY and then STOP. Stopping it called for searching for His truths and reminding myself of them whenever I faced a challenging situation. For some this may seem a bit ‘airy fairy’ but for me, the only thing that was stronger than the lies I became accustomed to was what He thought of me. But to get to His truths…I had to do that ‘get up early in the morning’ thing.
  • Fighting to focus on what’s in front of me, instead of what is far away. I have huge, challenging dreams (and promises of what He wants to do in and through my life). But that won’t happen if I can’t have the right mindset in what I’m doing now. This blog…that’s me being obedient. I would like to preach to the nations about His healing power and wisdom…but CONTINUALLY He had to pull me back to what He placed in front of me NOW. Will the big dreams happen? I realise it doesn’t matter. He cares about my intentions, character and actions NOW. And if I lift my eyes from what He’s guiding me to do I’m going to miss the boat completely. Breathe, refocus, diligence. Every day.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
  • Trying my best to make peace with everything I knew I messed up and letting go of the guilt I felt. A huge victory: Realising that He often bring second chances because He’s aware of my total ineptitude and He’s okay with giving it another try. And if He has faith in me…perhaps I should have too?
  • Lying on the bed and hating myself for how tired, weak, stressed and confused I’m feeling…and hearing His voice whisper: This isn’t who I made you. He saw something different…and I wanted to search and find what He saw.

The Challenge

What got to me was how frustrating it was to be in a rut of bad habits, unhealthy routines, lack of wise choices. I KNEW all the right things to do, but I wasn’t DOING them.

Like a business that needed to use all its resources to function optimally, I need to use all He has given me (time, wisdom, food, His Word, people) to live a life worth the label “Daughter of God”. I wasn’t even close.

The Switch

But somewhere a switch started to flip. Was it what He shared with me? The people and information He sent across my path that influenced me? Frustration that turned into desperation to see change?

All of it I think. But one thing definitely kept me going: Being reminded that He wants to take me somewhere. So if you haven’t heard that lately…I pray He whispers it in your ear.

My Third Glass of Water

So now it has been months. I have REALLY tried sculpting a better lifestyle, closer to what I know He wants for me.

Here’s my biggest revelation and realisation I am intensely grateful for. Somewhere during this journey of changing habits, listening to His voice, finding MY purpose NOW instead of jealously looking at other people’s lives and achievements…I realised I don’t have to feel GUILTY for not reaching this milestone earlier.

And living without guilt is…peaceful. And for that I want to cry. Because He came and soothed my soul and bit by bit He put me back together, giving me wisdom to fix many areas in my life:

  • Drinking more water
  • Eating differently to ensure health to one day hopefully carry a child He blesses us with…why? Because He wants the BEST for my child one day and that starts with me being my best.
  • Talking to Him more so His wisdom can shine through
  • Rearranging my schedule so there’s time for Him, my hobbies, my passions, my purpose
  • Being less busy but more productive

Best of all: some of these have become effortless, such as choosing water above coffee or reading insightful literature, rather than silly thrillers. (Please note: I am not bashing ANY reading material. At THIS moment in MY life, I know He’s calling me to change what I read…and so I do.)

Here’s a powerful lie I lived with for a long time: I believed my work always comes first. In a way that was used against me in keeping me so busy that I didn’t make time for other tasks I KNEW He wanted me to focus on. The lies we believe are used by the enemy to keep us off track and even something that sounds good could be the one thing keeping you away from contentment and fulfilling your purpose.

So I just drank my third glass of water.

Somehow He led me to fitting into my daily schedule almost everything I dreamed of a few months ago.

I’m not where I want to be yet. But I’m better. For today, that’s enough. No guilt.

And all glory to Him…as always.

Advertisements

What Mangoes Teach You About Life

What Mangoes Teach You About Life

I just peeled my second mango in as many days with the peel ending up in one piece.

mangoWhat I Used to Do

I’m 36 but that perfection is a first for me. I used to marvel at my dad’s deftly clearing any fruit of its clothing in one go. How the heck did he do that?

Here’s my usual method: Just push through the task as quickly as possible. It took too much concentration to keep the peel in one piece so I just hacked at it.

mango peelIn the end: 20 (to 50) short pieces landing in the dustbin or compost heap (yes I do try to save the environment).

The Difference-Slowing Down

Today was a victory.

Why? Because I learned to slow down. At last.

My dad once made a comment about always being in a rush. I thought it was something to be proud of because it proved how busy I was. In truth? It was simply me being late, rushed, disorganised, stressed for no reason, avoiding situations (arriving late for a family gathering meant I may miss out on discussing a few tense topics.)

Let’s get back to my mango.

How He Did it

I found peeling a fruit challenging and an unnecessary bump in my road. Did I take the time to simply sit down and get used to that skill? No. Why?

Here’s one bad consequence of doing well at school: You don’t learn how to deal with challenges. Everything comes easy: Math, Languages, Remembering facts, Pleasing teachers, Winning the prize.

That doesn’t serve you so well later in life. Life is not that easy to handle.

For me: It took years to feel comfortable facing a challenge. (Even peeling a slippery fruit properly.)

I avoid conflict and challenges as much as I can. I realize I pray and then hope/expect God to simply make it easy. That’s MY perfect answer to prayers.

But He knows best.

The Challenge

This past year I learned a few different things. And my mango proves it.

I stress about everything.

Will I impress my boss?

Will this client be happy?

Does my leaving out the milk irritate my husband?

Will the dog be okay if I leave her alone for a few hours?

Is God disappointed in me that I don’t do everything He prompts me to?

Will my parents be proud of the life I live?

How will I deal with differences of opinion with loved ones?

Will I be able to handle the latest work project? I simply don’t think I’m good enough.

What if no one likes my writing?

I really should be more organised or get a healthy daily schedule…why am I so bad at this thing called life?

Many of these my fears relate to overcoming a challenge, something difficult:

  • Learning a new skill
  • Doing a lot of research
  • Having complicated and tense discussions
  • Living in faith

My Weak Point

I am so scared at failing at these, that I simply rush through life. I do what I can (that which I find easy) and kind of put the rest on the back burner. I know it’s possible to live in faith…I just do it in areas that are easier. I know I’m good at my job, but I avoid pushing myself to be better. Because that will be challenging.

What I end up with are 20 (or 50) small things I did every day…but I miss out on creating that beautiful long strip of colorful skin. It’s the accomplishment I really want, but I don’t face the fears that keep me from doing it.

For me it’s fear of failure. For others it could be hurt, past disappointments or not knowing Him well enough yet.

How He Fixed It

For the past 12 months I had to practice at peeling my mango in real life:

  • Instead of changing jobs I had to learn to take my fears & insecurities to Him. And slowly but surely He transformed my mind about how I see myself. Now I can breeeeathe during the day: No longer flustered from 9 to 5 because I doubt every single task I do.
  • Instead of giving me everything I wished for so I can believe He’s on my side, I learnt to see His hand in small things, having to trust Him that He sees the end even while I don’t. I always knew that surrendering my emotions and wishes to Him is the ideal way to live. Difference: Now I’m closer to DOING it instead of only KNOWING it.
  • Instead of wishing for quick fixes (rushing through peeling fruit) I realise, accept and now embrace the fact that good things, good lives, good relationships…take time. He is in the business of long term effects, not instant gratification or even instant results. But is He at work? Always.
  • Here’s a big one: I used to be afraid of not living the above average life that He created me for. I wanted to prove on a grand scale that I am an effective tool in His hand. Prove to who? We get it so wrong sometimes. Now…now I see how He wants me to live His character daily – and that’s a better option than any grand ministry I can start up. Without learning His fundamentals, my attempt at saving the world (or some people) would crumble.

I hate that it took so long to learn these lessons. But that’s what happens when you have it easy I guess.

mango leafI’m Better…and Thankful

Let’s be clear: These are still challenges. But I’m better. And when I struggle (with stress, insecurities, work) I remind myself: I’m not where I was yesterday or a few months ago.

I’m so much better that I can relax while making a fruit salad instead of blasting through that task too. Blasting through simply to avoid the fact that I’m not very good at something.

mango life

Can I become a culinary chef yet? No. And I probably never will.

But I can be proud and above all thankful that He took the time to calm me down about life…to become more adept at facing challenges. Now, when I attempt anything in this life it may take longer, but it will be better. And I don’t run away anymore

He does have mysterious ways.