Going to my top drawer in my dresser, I have my assortment of undergarments, or can I say panties? Of course, it’s the 21st century! But for those of you young things, we were raised to not speak of such things in public. I can remember my Dad remarking when I was a teenager of how nothing was sacred anymore because of the feminine commercials on TV and the stress of a woman’s cycle. He about threw-up, and left the room every time.
Here’s my dilemma. I have about 5-7 good-looking pair of panties, and if a bus hit me, I would feel okay about wearing. Then I have about 3-4 pairs of scraggly, not fit so well, uncomfortable ones. Of course I reach for the first 5-7 pair and leave the others to languish in the drawer until I am desperate for clean underwear. But when I get really busy and forget to throw the elite pairs in the washer I have to resort to choosing second best. Every time that happens, I hear my mother’s voice in my head, “Clean and neat underwear in case you get in a wreck.” Those weren’t her exact words, but the paraphrase of what I remember. Honestly, how do tapes like that stay in our head? And does it really matter? If I did get in a wreck, will it cause a hospital press conference because I have tattered ill-fitting panties on?
I guess it falls into the category of the saying “putting your best foot forward.” But what if it isn’t possible? That’s the dilemma. Can you hear the transition? For my faithful readers, I think you know me too well I can’t write a whole blog post without some kind of parallel to the crazy!
Here’s the deal, as I was mulling it over I thought to myself, how often do I do this in life, choosing from the elite category of my okay happy emotions to put on my best face when in reality, I’ve run out of clean and happy. What do I do then? Pretend? Yes, sad to say, many times I pretend when everything is not okay inside. This is where it gets sticky for me. I want to be transparent and want to be authentic but I don’t want to be a downer. Can we be real and still be encouraging? I’m just asking.
January, in particular it seems like I am reaching for the drawer and all I have left is second best. I try to garner up the strength and put on my game-face when in reality I am feeling a little tattered and ill fit. Mostly, I think because I am tired in the aftermath of a chaotic few months.
For me that looks like, backing up and withdrawing because I just don’t have it in me to pretend. If I am not making sense, bear with me as I process this out loud with you. Here is what I think I am learning.
The Bible talks about being joyful in the midst of trials, suffering, burn-out etc. (For reference look at James 1:2-12, Psalm 107:22, Psalm 119:43) I don’t think it means pretending and putting on a game face. I think the writers are encouraging us to be mindful that in the process of experiencing life and especially more difficult seasons, we can’t forget about joy and hope. They just don’t come to us in truckloads.
We have to….
Cultivate grateful thoughts
Diligently turn ugly thoughts into positive
Bury ourselves in His promises
I think at times I have bought into the myth that if I am doing the right thing in hard times, that joy will automatically come to me. But according to the over 300 verses in the Bible surrounding joy, it seems to me that joy comes as a result of something that I have to practice in both my mind and heart. A big one is just being grateful. It’s funny how gratitude can shift our focus. I can be awakened to joy as I practice daily contentment and gratitude. Robert Louis Stevenson said once, “The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”
The motto of this blog posting is this, if I go to the drawer of my heart and I am at the end of clean and happy, I can choose joy by practicing gratitude. I don’t have to walk around tattered and empty. When I am empty that attitude of gratitude even in the midst of difficulties can bring joy to others in spite of my own circumstances and I don’t have to feel like I am a downer with others. Let’s face it, life can be hard, it’s unpredictable and it is disappointing more times than we’d like to admit. But through the eyes of gratitude, life is wondrous and an amazing gift of joy.
What will you pull out of your drawer today?
P.S. Okay, I know that some of you reading won’t be able to get past the, “Why doesn’t she just get rid of those the few pair of panties that cause her grief.” I promise, I’ll think about it and let you know….
(picture from http://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us-healthier-ocean-robbins/)