Friday, January 11, 2019

More Courage Than Fear

I always feel a bit of that "after Christmas let down". By the time we get to the Epiphany, I am feeling an emotional mixture of sadness that the lights and decorations are coming down and relief because I'm overwhelmed by all the extras that the Christmas season brought...decorations + gifts under the tree + new Lego creations on the end tables + new games and puzzles on the dining room table + Holiday platters, dishes, an extra table, and folding chairs hanging around waiting to be put away get the picture.

I think it's equal parts grieving over the warm, fuzzies of Christmas and the intense desire to minimize the visual clutter!

I found myself wrestling with discouragement over the last week. I've taken some baby steps this past year in the areas of finances, exercising more regularly, trying to declutter, and being more consistent with my prayer life, particularly stopping into adoration multiple times a week even if it's just for 10 minutes.

I'm certainly not anywhere near meeting the goals I'm hoping to reach in any of these areas. Change and growth is a process that takes patience, fortitude, and especially, time. With the start of this new year and all this talk of goals and resolutions for 2019, I've been listening to a lot of negative self talk in my head.  Words that try to take away my hope and my focus. Sentences that start with a lot of "You're never going to..." and having to fight feelings of giving up before I've even given myself a chance in this new year.

Change that lasts starts out small. Forming new habits and sticking to them takes time. Keeping my eyes focused on the little victories is important. When that discouragement strikes it's because I've taken my eyes off of the step directly in front of me and I'm looking at how far away the goal line is. It's when I look at something that seems just so.far.away that the hopelessness of ever reaching it creeps in.

I'm like Peter...I take that first step out onto the water but then I look at the storm..or listen to the lies...and I start to sink. (Matthew 14:28-33)

Another stumbling block for me right now that is leading to discouragement is comparison. It's so ridiculous that I can be perfectly content one moment focusing on taking the small baby steps in front of me...and then I read another blog post about someone with goals that are so much bigger and more advanced and it made the baby step progress that I've made feel pretty pathetic in comparison. Ten seconds later, those feelings of wanting to give up just grow exponentially! I feel shamed by my lack when I see other people's success in their journeys.

I was really struggling with these feelings this weekend. Living with a constant feeling of being "less than" made me grumpy and blue.

I went to Mass on Monday and spent some time afterwards praying and journaling everything I was feeling. I realized that I had my eyes on the storm but I just wasn't sure exactly what to do about it.

On Tuesday, I spent a short time in adoration. I read the daily readings while I was there. The Gospel
for the day was the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. (Mark 6:34-44) I felt like my small hopes and goals are my small offering of fishes and's my opportunity to give what little I have to Jesus and allow Him to make a miracle out of it.

I have been focusing too much on my own lacks and inabilities. I need to bring all these doubts and negative feelings to God to see how He will transform them. I need to trust in His plan for me and focus on the things He puts on my heart. I need to focus on my journey and my progress...not on anyone else's path.

Like the quote says....
Image result for don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle quote

I also like what Lisa Brenninkmeyer says in a recent blogpost....."Ask the One who loves you to give you just a little more courage than fear."

More courage than fear...sounds like a good thing to focus on in 2019.

How are you doing with the areas you are focusing on this year??