Yesterday I read one of my old blog posts and it hit me hard. It was about being thankful for where you are and what you have right now and not always wanting more. I spent several years before my 1st husband passed away learning how to be content. After he passed, it took me years to start to figure life out again. We just passed the 5 year anniversary of his death, and I’m still trying to get back on track.
We were high school sweethearts. I was 15 when we got together. We shared almost 17 years together. That is a long time when those years are your growing up years. We never knew how to be apart. We learned to be adults, parents, and spouses together. When that was suddenly gone, I was lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore. Everything that had shaped me was no longer a factor.
I could do anything I wanted. I could make any decisions that I wanted. I could just be me without regard to anyone else. I didn’t have to factor in anyone else’s desires or thoughts. I was free to just be Nicole.
But who was Nicole?
My whole purpose was being a wife. I loved my kids and I loved being a mom, but being a wife was my greatest calling. I knew that Chad wanted the very best for our family and I grew to be content to follow his leading for our family. For someone that is as strong-willed and opinionated as I am, that wasn’t always easy, but I knew with all my heart that he was leading our family as he felt God was leading him.
By following his lead for our family, I found myself in positions that I never thought I’d be in. I was a stay at home mom and we were homeschooling. Those days can become very monotonous, and that, coupled with an extreme lack of money, set me up for some very very hard days.
The amazing thing about that time, though, was that as hard as it was at that time, the Lord was working on me to be happy with where I was. To be happy to be able to be at home with my kids. To be able to be the one teaching them and watching them learn. To be happy to be able to make food for my family (though I hated cooking, I started to be thankful that I had the time to make them healthy foods from scratch). To be happy that my days weren’t crazy busy and that I had ample downtime to grow my relationship with the Lord and to be able to write about it so that others could be encouraged.
I found great happiness in little things. I got to a place where I refused to worry. I didn’t overanalyze every little thing. I actually enjoyed being with my kids. I loved taking care of my husband. It was just a very content place in my life.
Since then, I’ve had to re-discover me. In that process, I’ve lost my joy. I’ve lost my contentment. I always seem to be looking for the thing that will finally make me happy.
I want structure, but I want to be spontaneous. I want to work for myself, but I want someone to tell me what to do. I want money now, but I want time to figure things out and make money on my own. I want to be fit and healthy, but I want to eat junk too often. I want to be diligent and persistent and consistent, but I want to chase all the shiny things and quit when it gets a smidge hard. I want to control but know that isn’t the way. I want to live in freedom and joy but live in fear.
My husband and I are in a class called Freedom right now at our church. It is amazing. It totally reinforces everything we learned in Revelation Wellness training. Freedom is what I want. Contentment. Joy. Happiness. Freedom to live the abundant life that Christ came to give. I’m ready to get unstuck.
Isn’t it funny that when you are struggling, it seems that the answers just keep popping up all around you?
After the blog coming back up yesterday about finding the joy in everyday things, this came up on my time hop on Facebook this morning. I was again reminded of how far I’ve fallen and also it gave me new motivation to get back to where I was.
My 1st husband loved life. He truly taught me how to love the everyday things. The little things. The insignificant things. In fact, that was one of the traits that kept coming back up over and over and over after his death. How much he didn’t need much to be happy. How he was satisfied with what he had.
Sure, we had dreams to do more and have more and to better the lives of our girls, but he taught me to be content in the process. How to be happy with what you have. How to live in the moment and savor the day. How to dream without creating unhealthy desire. How to be thankful. How to live with joy.
My house is in currently in chaos.
It is my fault.
I take total responsibility. The mom sets the tone, right? I believe it wholeheartedly.
I’ve forgotten the very thing that made my memories so sweet. It was the emotional place that I was in. The fully surrendered to God, live a life of joy, thankfulness, and gratitude life.
In my search to find out who I am as a person, woman, new wife, new step-mama, mom to teens/young adults, etc I’ve lost my joy.
I am looking to so many things to try to find joy that I’ve created an atmosphere of chaos in my home.
I’m crabby. Because I’m crabby, my kids are crabby. Because we are all crabby, my husband gets crabby. It’s a vicious circle and I, sadly, just want out. And, honestly, I have checked out. Which just makes it worse. I just don’t want to do anything. I waste time on my phone or hide out in my bedroom. I bury myself in a book, or just want to leave the house altogether. If/when they want my attention, they are met with attitude, sarcasm, or disgust. I just don’t want to deal with the chaos anymore, so I don’t……which only leads to more chaos.
But……..the good news is that I CAN CHANGE IT.
I can find joy in the process of finding out what makes me ME. I can trust God’s timing and enjoy that I am right where I’m supposed to be. I can put on a smile and be happy for my children. I can find little ways to tell my husband that I love, respect, and appreciate him.
Will it be hard? Yep.
Will I have to somewhat fake it til I make it? Yep.
Will I want to just retreat sometimes and just be ornery? Yep.
But it’s not worth it. The sacrifice is too great. My family is growing. Time is wasting. I can’t let any more time get away while I’m sulking and contributing my bad attitude to finding myself.
I can’t whine about my life when I’m doing nothing to change it. I’m half-heartedly trying to change things in my life, but I’m fully committed to nothing.
This reminder from One Fit Widow this morning was so eye-opening.
My late husband was one that lived life with blinders on. He saw what he wanted and he did it. When things didn’t go his way, he readjusted and kept plugging on. It wasn’t easy, but for the most part, he did it with a smile on his face. He was just generally happy with life. He was the poster child for contentment. As a result, our family thrived.
This life of joy and thankfulness didn’t die with my husband. It wasn’t something that only he possessed. He didn’t take it with him and leave me with nothing.
It is a choice. He made the choice to live his life that way and SO CAN I!
It is a choice to be thankful no matter what. It is a choice to dwell on what you do have, and not what you don’t. It is a choice to put on a happy face and speak from a heart of gratitude. It is a choice to move on in life and notice the little things that make our lives great. How you speak to your loved ones is a choice…..whether you speak kindly or harshly. Whether you speak life-giving words or words that cause harm. Whether you spread peacefulness or stir up chaos.
Sometimes you just need to make a decision to start. A decision, a choice, to stop being negative. A choice to press on even when it’s hard and to put a smile on your face regardless of circumstances. A choice to focus on what you already have and be thankful for it. A choice to not complain. A choice to be the change that you want to see in your children or in the atmosphere of your home.
My 1st husband was very simple. He was genuinely happy. He was genuinely satisfied with his life. He helped me to be that person and I want to be here again.
Even though I learned that from him, he didn’t make me that way. I made a choice. I made a choice to live in thankfulness and joy. I’m ready to be that person again.
My new family deserves that. My new husband deserves that. My kids deserve that.
I know all too well that life is short and I don’t want to leave this life with a family that can’t say that I lived my life with a smile on my face. I want them to be able to remember their childhood as a time of joy and laughter and fun. I want them to remember the little things that brought them joy. I want them to be able to say that no matter what, their home was safe and comforting.
This hasn’t been the case for many years, but I want it back. I miss that girl and I know that my family does too.
How about you? Are you committed to being joyful? Do you let life get to you and bring you down? Are you thankful for where you are? It’s impossible to be thankful and crabby at the same time. If you are intentionally looking for the best in everything and living in gratitude for the blessings you have been given, joy will come….you won’t even have to search for it.
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