2015 is here. The doors of a brand new year are finally wide open right in front of us, and whether we are ready to embark in the journey or not, time waits for no one. As if standing on a conveyer belt, we move into the unknown. No matter what we do, we are forced to enter this new adventure of another year…and…
some of us may feel…a bit…hesitant, at best. The New Year brings too much uncertainty for the natural born pessimist…and unfortunately, that’s what I am. The glass-half-empty person sees the beginning of a new year as a threat to stability. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder what kind of hardship, pain, sorrow, loss, suffering, this New Year will bring to my life.
I know…I can’t live life like that. But left to my own power and devices, that’s exactly how I would live it. Left to my own negativity, my days would flow more like a sewer line than a river. Fortunately, I don’t have to, because the redemptive power of Christ is in me, and The Holy Spirit picks me up and reveals to me that Jesus is alive, and that there is hope. The Holy Spirit grows His fruits in me, slowly, but surely and as He makes progress in my soul, I can begin to experience the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that keep me from the abyss, and against which no evil can ever endure. (Galatians 5: 22-23)
God, in His goodness and faithfulness, not only gives us Himself, but He also gives us others to help us in our journey. He populates our path with individuals who have divine appointments with us and who are in our lives to deliver portions of God’s message for our growth. In my case, Our Heavenly Father has been graciously generous and has given me a lot of people who have helped me in my voyage. Today, however, I’m thinking particularly about my friend Indira.
Our paths crossed a bit over 25 years ago and ever since our lives have had many parallels. I praise God for her friendship every day and I don’t know what I’d do without her presence in my life. God knows what and who we need, and He knew I’d need Indira with me.
Well, I had the privilege and joy to spend the first few days of 2015 with Indira and her children who came to our home to visit. We had a great time having fun at an amazing water park, but most of all, we savored just hanging out at the house. The kids played endlessly while Indira and I spend good quality time chatting and strengthening our friendship.
Unfortunately, both of us know the pain of illness and the inevitable stress and anxiety that comes with having gone through a cancer diagnosis. Indira, once again, has been a pillar of strength and wisdom that God has put in my life to guide me through the choppy waters of life with cancer. So, as my checkup approaches faster than I would like to, Indira gave me a homework. She said, “you have to do at least one feel-good thing every day.” “It does not have to be anything elaborate or big or planned,” she said, “it could be something as simple as spending a few minutes reminiscing one of your favorite memories.” “The important thing is that it brings you to a place where you feel good.”
I know that we are supposed to put ourselves last and that life is not about us. God, in His glory, works everything for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8: 28). Even the pain and the suffering, all of it has a purpose. His plan is perfect because He is Faithful and He loves us, and He wants us to draw closer to Him. But I also know that we ought to love ourselves. When inquired about the greatest commandment in Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus replied:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
So, if we don’t love ourselves, where does that leave us? How are we supposed to love others? The main indicator of how we must love our brothers and sisters is the way we love ourselves!
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). Therefore, we need to consider ourselves as such, and treat ourselves right, so we can spread the love that God has so abundantly poured out on us. We are the overflowing chalice of God’s mercies, so we better take care of that chalice so He can have it and continue pouring Himself into.
People who have gone through traumatic events of any kind, abuse, violence, illness, accidents, nature disasters, wars, brokenness, loss and so on, have a hard time loving themselves appropriately. Sometimes, the pain is so strong and it cuts so deep that the wounds are slow to heal and the scars are way too visible. The traumatic experience leaves the person paralyzed with fear and it becomes too difficult to let go of the event that causes such extreme anxiety because they don’t see it as over and done with. It keeps coming back to haunt them. And depending on what it is, it becomes harder to re-learn how to love oneself again in a way that brings us to a place where we can begin to love others well too.
I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I’m not pretending to be one. I’m just a child of God who knows that everyone struggles with some kind of pain. I wrestle with letting go of fear and anxiety, and I think one good first step to take on the road to freedom is to realize that we have Jesus walking with us. I need to remember that freedom is already mine as He, who is the author of that freedom, lives in me! He wants me to shake off all the lies that the enemy tells me and to believe Him and only Him. I want to hear only His voice, and as I do, as I concentrate on hearing the Voice of Truth, I will begin to enjoy the daily, feel-good energy that comes from trusting His Love, Power and Mercy.
I’m still a bit scared at what 2015 may bring. After all, one thing I’ve learned in my walk with the Lord is that, in my life, change doesn’t happen overnight. But I think I am more excited than scared. I’m excited about the possibilities of the new adventure that this New Year will bring. And I am confident that He will be there at every step to make it all worthwhile.
What would be some of the feel-good things you could do every day to help you get your mind off of the daily grind of your pain?