The base for this blog has always been my trying to write about living my life with faith and courage while looking for joy in small things and with that in mind, in spite of my heartache due to Don’s abrupt ending of our engagement, I included joy in last month’s post as I shared my outing with Lauren and Sean to find Nana’s perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree (bush).
I would love to say that since then I have hit new highs and I have moved blissfully forward.
I would love to say that but…. It would not be the truth.
I have had nights where I wrapped myself in a blanket of self-pity and tears fell freely.
Self-pity is a very interesting emotion. It is snuggy—you can sit in a big comfy chair with a cup of coffee or glass of wine on the table next to you—tissues scattered about—a blanket wrapped around you—and you can sit and cry and sniffle and look at the ceiling and say “Poor me…. Why did this happen to me?”
You share your story and your friends feed into the emotion with offers of sympathy and hand holding and sighs and together you focus on all the negatives and the challenges. It takes very little energy to remain in the land of self-pity. It only takes being able to breathe and focusing on your pain… how you were wronged…. And so forth.
And it leads to only bad things… which includes more self-pity.
I had a night of self-pity (well, truth to be known, I have had more than a night of self-pity since Don walked out on me.) But the night in reference was Saturday January 9th and I found myself up at 2 AM and self-pity and tears were cranked up to a very high level. As I grew tired of lying in the bed staring at the ceiling, I went upstairs to my computer and put my thoughts into words.
And then I did something I normally do not do—the next morning, I emailed them to my son and his wife. Depending on their viewpoint, that was either a good thing or a bad thing.
For me, it was a good thing as it led to an in-person conversation that Sunday afternoon with my daughter-in-law and then on Wednesday night I had a conversation with both of them over dinner. Sometimes you need to hear yourself say things out loud for them to register in your brain. Not only did I listen to their wise counsel and concern, I listened to what I said.
And during the week, I also happened to buy a book in which I read a statement which struck me to the very core of my being. It also tied in with a remark Chris and Allison made to me Wednesday night.
The book is Audacious by Beth Moore, who writes best-selling books and Bible studies. In Audacious, she shares how she was challenged to answer two age-old questions—“What is your dream?” and “What is your vision for the future?” Part of the process was to actually write down her vision.
Now, I am certain everyone who is reading these words has been challenged to answer those questions or write a life vision statement at some point. It is certainly nothing new.
But at this stage of my life and, as I am at a stage not of my choosing, the questions intrigued me. I began thinking about them—how would I answer them?
But, she also wrote something else and this, in conjunction with the questions above, jumped out at me. Ms. Moore shares some thoughts about a book she had recently read and she writes “The book talked about having the courage to live under strain and pain to be part of a better story. A larger story. It said not to wimp out. That only pain can bring about change. And, as a writer, not to be satisfied with writing a life I’m not willing to live.”
Whoa… Double whoa. Those words jumped out at me…… “to be a part of a better story” and “not to wimp out” and “only pain can bring about change” and the final whammy— “And, as a writer, not to be satisfied with writing a life I’m not willing to live.”
The Meet Janet page reads: “What is Faith and Courage: The Joys of an Ordinary Life? It is a blog that contains stories that I hope will be an inspiration to others and will also convey the strength that one gains when facing life with both faith and a sense of humor.”
The reality is—if I let self-pity rule, if I let the negatives overwhelm me then my blog is hypocrisy. My stories are not part of a “better story”—instead, they are small and insignificant.
My faith stories about letting go of anger and looking for joy are merely that…they are just stories. They are idle words.
And if they are merely idle words and I do not act on them, then I would be then writing about a life that I am not willing to really and truly live.
My words have to have more truth to them than that.
I have no idea as to what direction my stories will take this year except that I know they will influence how I live my life….so that the words can remain true. In the process, perhaps I can answer those other questions—what is my dream and my vision for the future.
Right now, I know one thing. On Wednesday night, Allison and Chris said they wanted to see “Happy Janet” again. I think that is a good thought and could even be a part of my vision for the future and my dreams—but it is not bold enough. It is too small.
I want more than that.
What I want to see is “Joy-filled Janet” again. The Janet who loves others unconditionally; who laughs out loud; who sees the sunshine and feels it warmth; who is willing to be bold and to live life to the fullest; who is wrapped not in blankets of self-pity but in blankets lined with love and warmth and is willing to share those blankets with others.
Joy has been my theme…. as well as courage…. and faith….. and I have gladly written about them since August 26th, 2012. But this year, I will make certain I do not just merely write the words—I will try to live them.
And in the process, I hope to be able to share the joy, courage, and faith I find with each of you.