Have you ever been going about the day to day tasks of your life only to suddenly feel pulled down by a memory? or perhaps an unfulfilled dream? or Something in your day that just didn’t go your way. A thought starts to rise in your heart – becoming ever louder in your mind, and slowly tearing at your soul like a thousand paper cuts.
I experienced the start of such a downward spiral yesterday. I was at the birthday party of a friend who was turning 75. He was surrounded by family and friends. His college freshman grandson wrote and was singing a song to the Grandpa he loved. At that moment a thought crept into my mind saying “these are things you will never experience.” For I am a single, disabled woman in my late 50s, with no family and multiple health problems. The thought almost made me tear up as I began to feel sorry for myself. But I took a deep breath and shook my head ever so slightly “NO!”
“NO I am not going to dwell on such thoughts. I had learned over time that I can choose to focus on the blessings I do have in life.” It was not an easy lesson to take hold of, it took time, but I did finally come to believe the fact that I can choose what I let my mind dwell on. I had a chaplain at college who used to tell me repeatedly that I can choose to focus on what I do have, rather than on what I don’t yet – and yes, may never have. It was a foreign concept that the choice could be mine. And with all sincerity I say, it is making a choice between life and death.
If I focus on what is not part of my life, I spiral down into the depths of depression and self-pity. I have in the past let the pain bring me to consider ending my life. I would at times even make a plan. I would give up on life, myself, and most importantly God. No good ever came from allowing myself to focus on what I think is missing in my life.
However, when I choose to focus on the joy of the moment, on the many good things I do experience in life, such as: dear friends who include me in family holiday celebrations; a Christ focused church that believes in “Living the Truth, Acting in Love”; a safe roof over my head; creative gifts I can use to enrich my life and bless others; and even a couple of friends who share my interests in fun things like watching shows about Bigfoot hunters, playing Catopoly and dominoes and more, I find my heart welling up with tears of joy and laughter. I am greatly blessed by God.
Is my life what I used to believe it needed to be? Is it what I spent years hoping for? No. Am I unhappy about that? No. If I open my eyes to see the good, I see that I am very richly blessed in this life. And I choose to focus on what brings life to my spirit rather than what brings death to my soul. What will you choose to focus on when painful thoughts stir in your heart? Please choose life.