Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Change happens subtly

I am not a fan of the darkness; the kind that results from the lack of daylight or the evil in the world that threatens my peace and joy. And yet, here I sit, at 3:38 a.m. in the darkness and quiet of the early morning, gathering my thoughts and preparing for yet another busy day. It’s my favorite time of day (or night. J)

During these winter days, it is dark more often than not. It’s dark when I go to work and dark when I get home; it’s dark when I get up (of course it is, Theresa, it’s 3 am! J) and dark when I go to bed. I spend most of the daylight hours in a windowless office, and only see daylight on my way to the bathroom. Darkness is a way of life for us in the north during the wintertime. It’s no wonder that there are so many that suffer from seasonal depression….. but…..things are a changing for the better!

Yesterday when I went to work, the sun was shining by the time I pulled into the parking lot. How did that happen after several months of driving in the dark, I wondered? Why, just LAST Monday, it was still dark at 7 am….and yesterday, in what appeared to be ‘all of a sudden’ the day has gotten longer. Although I appeared to be a sudden transition from dark to light, the reality is that it didn’t just happen that way. The amount of light has been steadily increasing by a few minutes each day as the seasons slowly transition to spring. I just didn’t notice the slow, little-by-little transition happening on a daily basis.

My journey these past five years (5 years ago today I began this life-changing journey, Thank you, Lord), has been similar. Little-by-little, step-by-step, day-by-day, God slowly transforming my thoughts; changing my heart; changing my habits; changing the way I see things, and although I often don’t notice it, He is continually working to help me change my life.

Like the increasing amount of daylight, those little changes don’t seem to make much difference…..but then, one day…..it’s daylight when we get to work…..or our pants zip……or we can engage in a conversation with someone and NOT end up in an argument……or we can smell a cigarette and not want one…..or we can hear someone’s name and we realize that the pain associated with their loss has been replaced with peace. We sometimes just don’t realize how much progress we are making on a daily basis.

Sometimes on our journey, we get so focused on seeing results quickly that we become discouraged and want to give up. We expected to lose weight quicker. We hit plateaus and don’t seem to see any progress. We keep trying and nothing happens and we fail, over and over again because it appears that God isn’t present, that we will NEVER reach our goals, that we are destined to be heavy, addicted, sad, depressed, sick, lonely…..whatever our struggle, forever. We really don’t believe that life can or will, ever be any different. We believe that “darkness” is our destiny, and we lose hope.

 We simply fail to realize that day-by-day, little-by-little, pound-by-pound, step-by-step, that God IS transforming us….if we cooperate and do our part. Don’t be discouraged….don’t give up…..because…..even if we don’t see it yet, even if no one notices our progress, even if our life still seems filled with darkness and despair today…..one day, very soon, all of a sudden….boom….you’ll see results and hit that first goal (it will be daylight when YOU get to work), and you’ll ask yourself, “when/how did that happen?” The answer, of course, is little changes, day-by-day add up to big changes.

Likewise, change occurs in the opposite direction, too, without our paying attention. We didn’t just get heavy ‘all of a sudden’. We didn’t just become addicted to our vices ‘with just one drink, smoke, or cookie. We just didn’t become a bitter, angry person with just one negative thought. Our daily habits, thoughts, and actions, although often done without thought, make us that way. One day, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror or see a photo, and wonder, how did THAT happen?  We shop for new clothes and we realize we are in a size 3X, or go to the doctor and realize we are closer to 300 pounds than 200. Perhaps we realize that having a beer with friends no longer relaxes us; it takes a six-pack or going to the casino is no longer just a special night out; we feel compelled to go several times a week. (I’m not opposed to any of that; just making a point how easily we can lose control). Little-by-little, choice-by-choice, thought-by-thought, we change....but are our days becoming “darker”…or ‘lighter”?

Today, on my ‘new life” anniversary, I give thanks to God that He has helped me to make little changes that led to big changes over time, and I ask Him for the grace to continue on this path. It’s been a difficult year as my body struggles with the pain and fatigue of RA and neuropathy and the side effects of the medication, limiting my ability to walk, making it harder to keep the weight off. My mind is challenged mentally with a new job and college classes, leaving me completely exhausted most of the time, but I remain grateful for the blessings in my life.  I ask God to continue to make Himself present to me, strengthening me and helping me to make the right choices each day as I recommit myself to my journey……and I ask the same for you!

Wherever you are on your journey; whatever struggles threaten your peace, whatever ‘darkness” envelopes your life, I encourage you today to make a small change to improve your health and well-being. Little changes….done consistently….lead to progress. Life is hard….struggles are real…..change is difficult….but God is bigger than all that, and little-by-little, thought-by-thought, step-by-step….we CAN…and we WILL….change our lives!