Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Learning to "MAKE DO"

Happy Wednesday!  It’s finally light enough in to take a walk outdoors in the early morning before work, although I have a meeting at the other campus this morning so my walk will have to wait until after work today. Earlier this week, though, I managed to get a mile in as the sun was coming up. While walking down the dirt road, I notice a mama duck and her babies swimming in the ditch near my house. I smiled as I continued to walk and, as you probably guessed, I’ve been thinking about these ducks for a couple of days now as I pondered why I had noticed them. I’ve written before that oftentimes when I ‘notice” something unusual or unique, I believe it is God’s way of speaking to me and encouraging me on my journey. It just means I have to think about it and ponder it a while.   For a few days now I’ve been thinking about that Mama Duck and how she was ‘making do” with what she had; namely, just an overflowing ditch!

 Most of us, at one time or another, have had/have to “make do with what we had/have.”  At least, I have.  Perhaps it’s dinner time, the kids are hungry, or someone stops over, and you open the refrigerator or cupboard and it seems bare, and yet, you manage to “make do” and throw something together out of nothing but leftovers, and to your surprise, you get a compliment about your meal. Perhaps you’ve experienced this during the holidays when money was tight and you couldn’t possibly afford to buy the Christmas gifts that you wanted to give and you had to resort to a homemade gift or something sentimental, and it turns out the recipient just loved it and it was “their favorite Christmas gift ever.”  Perhaps your plans got changed or you couldn’t afford to take that special vacation you had planned, but a trip to the park, a visit with an old friend, or a picnic turned a day off into a ‘perfect day.”  Things might not be the way we had envisioned them; we may be carrying extra weight and wonder if we will EVER reach our goal; we might now have all that we ‘think we want” or our life may not be the way we had hoped it would be, but somehow ‘we make do” and if we truly look at things with the eyes of gratitude, we realize that things are not so bad at all.

I thought a lot about that little duck this week and how happy she appeared to be (seriously, Theresa….what does a happy duck look like anyway?  LOL) as she swam in that ditch with her babies, surrounded by overgrown brush and weeds.  Did she wish she were in a big, clean lake with a lot of room?  Did she think the water was too cold or moving too fast? Was it clean enough? Had she hoped for a nicer place to raise her babies?  Hmmm….  I seriously doubt that silly little duck was thinking anything at all, but she certainly could have picked a nicer place to raise her ducklings, but she seemed to be “making do’ with the muddy little ditch in the woods as she did exactly what she was created to do: swim, splash, quack, give life and protect those around her from harm. There is much to be learned from that little duck.

It would probably be very difficult for me to find someone….any one…who could say that his/her life is absolutely perfect and everything is EXACTLY the way he/she wants it to be, but there is a very big difference between being JOYFUL and PEACEFUL and having a perfect life with a perfect job and a perfect house with a perfect body.  I think too many times we equate happiness with perfection and I, personally, don’t think the two have much to do with each other.  Certainly, we all want to be the best that we can be. We strive to improve our life; our well-being; or health; and we work to educate ourselves, find meaningful jobs; improve our relationship with God and others; and make changes to make our lives better, but does our contentment, joy, and peacefulness come from perfection?  To me, I don’t think it does.  I think true JOY comes from gratitude and realizing that even in the midst of a storm or dark time in life, we are abundantly blessed and God is present. It comes from recognizing that each of us is a work in progress and even though our lives are not PERFECT; we are carrying extra weight or have habits that we’d like to change; that our children or partners sometime disappoint us; our bodies sometimes fail us; our jobs sometimes stress us out; and our lives are not EXACTLY the way we want them to be….we STILL are blessed with many good things.  Truly happy, joyful, and peaceful people learn to “MAKE DO” with what they have and realize that each day is a gift from God; that life is very short; and that there is much to be celebrated along the way because God gives us EVERYTHING we need to get through each day; to be strong in our journey; to change our lives; and to face each challenge that comes our way. Even THOUGH....we are on a journey; even WHEN we are trying to reach a goal or lose weight; even WHILE we are making changes….there is much to rejoice about; to celebrate; and to be thankful for.

Today…. I encourage you to be recognize that even if your life isn’t perfect;  even though you may be struggling to lose weight; quit smoking or give us some other habit; even when you have lost motivation or will-power; or are in the midst of an emotional, financial, or physical struggle that EVERY DAY is a gift; every pound lost or step taken in the right direction is something to celebrate; and there is ALWAYS something…(you may have to look really hard to find it, but there is always something) to be grateful for.  We are abundantly blessed and if we truly want to be happy, we must learn to “make do” with what we have before us while working to change those things that we have the ability to change.