Monday, February 1, 2016

What's your focus?

Just yesterday I was reminiscing with my husband about this time last year.
We were newly married, and as some of you know, I was dealing with very heavy anxiety and depression.
I didn't really know what was going on with me or where it came from.
I had countless sleepless nights, and could be at the most fun social events and still feel blue with no explanation.
I hated it.
That's not the point of this blog.. I have many other posts about my struggle through anxiety, including this one, if you haven't read it, it's called
The Battle No One Talks About.

Today's post is actually about the opposite of anxiety.
It's about enjoying life.
Like I said, just yesterday I was talking with my husband about how much has changed for the better since this time last year.
The difference between this year and last year is that I'm actually enjoying my life again.
 I sit and eat a meal with friends and enjoy the moment.
I go outside for a walk and enjoy everything about it.
 I joked with my husband recently that I was turning into my mom when I went for walks.
I never understood why my mom would always love to stop and look at flowers, or take pictures of trees, or gasp over the beauty of a sunset or the moon.
But now, I totally get it.
Now, I totally do all of those things.
Now, I think there is something we can all learn from her.
She was enjoying, and still enjoys the little things in life.
Let me explain.
Something Kenneth and I have strived for this whole year is to enjoy every moment.
Through practice, I feel as if it's lead me to this moment; these moments where I am full of joy, full of laughter, and full of true love and appreciation for each person in my life and the value they bring to it.

In Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 I love how the Message version of the Bible puts it:

"After looking at the way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that's about it. That's the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, in the now. It's useless to brood over how long we might live."

I read this the other day and was just so overwhelmed with the sense that I really can and do enjoy God's blessings that He has given my husband and I.
No money in the world, no possession, no position will ever bring me as much joy as God Himself does when he allows my anxieties to cease and His joy to increase.
(okay, so I rhymed there, you're welcome)

I remember during this past season I was in our hotel in Philly, and I recall the Lord specifically asking me and nudging me to be honest with myself.
His question was, "What's your focus in life?"
As a wife of a professional baseball player, I'll be really honest, and I'll tell you on behalf of other Christian women in this industry that I've talked to as well (I'm not speaking for everyone), that it's so easy to lose the focus of what REALLY matters in life.
It's easy to get caught up in trade rumors, injuries, what team our husbands will play for, traveling to the next city alone or some with 3 to 4 kids, how his last outing went, how his next outing will go.. I mean I could go on and on about the secret struggles and thoughts we face every day.

I remember asking God,
"What do you mean, what's my focus? Of course it's you, Lord."
And I probably wasn't being dishonest in that moment.
 I was focused on the Lord, what He was doing, what He wanted, how He wanted me to treat people and treat my husband, how He wanted me to love Him and spend time with Him... these things were all my focus. These things are even good things to focus on.

I think though, that this question sparked something in me to take a step back and remember that verse in Ecclesiastes.
You see, this life really isn't about anything but being in relationship with our Creator and enjoying every single day He has given us.
Some people think God is just a hard judge over everyone waiting for you to give your life to him so you can't have any fun, you obey a ton of rules, and never get to do what you want.
The thing is, a life truly enjoyed is a life that is filled with God.
I remember the Lord speaking to me in that hotel room in downtown, busy Philadelphia and hearing Him softly remind me to start living a life full of what really matters:
healthy relationships, love for others, enjoyment in every moment I may tend to take for granted.
To have mercy for others, to walk and talk with compassion to people who are struggling through hard times and insecurities, to show boundless grace on those who may be trying to figure this whole Jesus/God'Christianity thing out.
These are the things that matter.

In all of this, our focus should be an enjoyment of the every day journey.
The Bible says that we should not work or strive for the food that perishes (money, position, possessions, etc.)
 Although all of those things aren't bad at all, but we should instead be more obsessed with the things that endure and make an impact even after we die.
Mercy. Love. Relationships. People. Grace.
Let's start to fall in love and enjoy everything about God and the relationships and work He has blessed us with.

I challenge you in your workplace, in your church if you attend one, in your family-- start living a life centered around things that matter, and start to enjoy it.
If you're a barista, a preacher, a teacher, or a CEO...
If you're a mom, a wife, a writer, or a nutrition expert...

Start enjoying the lot that the Lord has given you in this beautiful life!
Don't take any day for granted.
Choose to enjoy every moment of the work the Lord has so graciously placed in your hands.
Not only has God given you these things, He has given you the very capability to enjoy those blessings.
It's our choice to begin to enjoy and be thankful every moment of the day. 

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