Thursday, October 2, 2014

How do you greet the morning?

Good Morning!  Just three years ago, I hated mornings.  While part of me was somewhat relieved when the alarm went off because it meant that I didn’t die in my sleep, a much bigger part of me recognized that the dawning of another day meant more of the same misery that filled every other day. I’ve always been an early riser, waking up around 5 a.m. each morning, but for a much different reason than I do now. I woke up early in the “Old Theresa” days simply because it took two hours just to function. In those days, I would need to take potent pain medicine as soon as I opened my eyes and immediately go into the shower, just to loosen the joints and take the edge off the pain so that I could get ready for work.  Every bit of energy I had went into the simple, ordinary tasks of trying to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and get my 400+ pound, crippled-up, body from my bed to my office. I never slept very well in those days, and by the time I began my work day, I was already exhausted; and yet, I needed to pretend otherwise, because, as a single woman, I needed to work in order to support myself.  I often look back and wonder how on earth I ever managed to get through those days, but I know, without a doubt, it was only by the grace of God. 

So many times when we face struggles, grief, illness, loss….or otherwise difficult situations…we immediately blame God and wonder, “Why have you abandoned me, God?  Where were YOU? Why did you allow this to happen?”  Sometimes we become angry, jealous, or bitter. Sometimes we turn to food, drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy behavior to cope, but if we really think about it, the mere reality that we MANAGED TO SURVIVE those difficult times proves to me that GOD really was present in those days. Otherwise, how would I have found the strength to continue on?

How did you manage to get through those difficult years with wayward teenagers?  How did you survive the pain of betrayal or heartbreak after a breakup or divorce?  How did you endure the horrors of chemo, surgery, or illness, either in yourself of a loved one?  So many other situations of struggle….and if you really look at it in a different way, you may begin to see that you were not alone in those dark days.  The reality is that you are NOT ALONE today either, no matter how steep the hill you feel you need to climb.  You can, by the grace of God (however you define that), change your circumstances, no matter how bleak or impossible they seem at the moment.  It just takes a bit of effort to begin to Look at and Think about things a little differently. 

I greet mornings a whole lot differently these days. Waking up at 5:00 a.m. is now considered “sleeping-in’ for me; a rare occurrence. I typically wake up…without an alarm….somewhere around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m., not out of physical pain like the old days, (although Rheumatoid Arthritis DOES NOT GO AWAY with weight loss and I still deal with it on a daily basis, it merely is easier to manage when the extra stress on the joints is lightened), but because I’m EXCITED to be alive. I no longer crawl from the bed to the shower, but rather, I land in the lazy boy where I write, reflect, do homework, answer e-mail, etc. to mentally prepare for the day. I have way more energy in the morning, and sometimes I’m able to do laundry or other tasks, do a few things in the garden, take a bike ride or walk, try on multiple outfits and shoes (I am SUCH a girl!)….all before going to work. On the weekends, it’s much of the same excitement… “What new Adventure…..what new thing or experience will I get to do today….Where will I go….What will I see?”  Typically, they are the ordinary things that many people take for granted: little things like going to a garage sale, watching the sun come up; pulling a few weeds or filling the birdfeeders. Sometimes, it’s the day-to-day errands like getting a few groceries, filling the gas tank, talking with a neighbor in the yard, or bringing a box to the garage….all things that USED to be nearly impossible for me to do, but things that so many people take for granted and do without even missing a beat.  I now look at these mundane tasks differently: instead of… “Yuck, I hate to do……whatever….it’s, THANK YOU GOD…that I CAN do……..without being totally out of breath, fatigued, or drenched in sweat.” If you struggle to find motivation….perhaps just the ability to do the dreaded chores a bit easier….can be just as powerful as fitting into a size 8 or 10.  The size of your pants means little compared to the ability to function and go through the day a bit easier.

Mornings often turn into days filled with new experiences as well. I’ve shared so many of them with the group. Big moments like “speaking at the Soaring Eagle Casino or other venues”, “fly-fishing”, “riding on a Harley,” or “climbing a sand dune” for the first time are memorable “bucket-list” experiences, but almost every day, other “firsts….or….firsts in a very long time” moments occur.  I never know what type of situation or crisis a student will be having when I go to work. I never know what kind of e-mail plea I’ll read from someone clear across the country or on the other side of the world.  I never know what new insight I’ll see or how God will talk to me through something I see, hear, or experience.  I never know what type of activity I will discover that I CAN do. I do know, however, that NONE OF THESE things….not one….would have been possible had I not taken that VERY FIRST STEP. 

Yesterday I was able to do something that I wanted to do for many years: I walked the wooded trail on the college campus.  When I first started my journey, I had a goal of walking the annual 5K held every September. While I did work hard to be able to walk…PERIOD….and can now do a couple of miles comfortably on most days, I have yet to do a 5K, especially at the college because I was told that the terrain is somewhat rough and hilly.  Yesterday I discovered that it certainly is. While not “mountain climbing” by any means, the beautiful wooded train is not the flat pavement I’m used to walking. My friend Marcia and I walked about a mile and a half, dressed in my skirt and boots because I managed to bring only ONE tennis shoe with me to change into (don’t ask, just smile), and it was BEAUTIFUL. I suspect we will do this more often…and by next September, I WILL be ready and able to walk the 5K!  This moment…WOULD NOT have been possible…had I not taken that very first step and dumped my 6 bottles of soda down the drain!  God is so good!!!

If you want your mornings to be different… have to do things differently.  You have to THINK about things differently….with gratitude rather than bitterness or despair.  You have to make different choices….ones that will lead to CHANGE rather than merely satisfy a craving or desire.  You have to believe that you CAN do it….and then you have to do what you need to do to make things happen.  You are very likely not going to wake up thinner; happier; healthier; sober; YOU….and your God….have to make it happen, one day, one step, one thought at a time.   If you are reading this post this morning, feeling depressed, exhausted, or despondent…..try to imagine what it would be like to wake up excited, refreshed, and anxious to see what the new day will bring.  It is possible, my friends… IS POSSIBLE….and it is SO INCREDIBLY worth it!!!! Do what you need to do to make it happen!!