On May 29th, I made an Instagram post that provided a challenge to myself and anyone who wanted to participate. It was about committing to a month long obsession of positive thoughts about one’s self, and by extension – their entire life. This seemed like a fitting challenge for me at the time. Due to the continuous months of extreme upsets, I could definitely feel myself fighting a more negative internal dialogue about myself and life circumstances as the months continued on. I found it easy to have faith for others, and believe whole-heartedly in the grace and goodness that was sure to surround them. Yet sadly, I was finding myself too exhausted to extend that same kindness onto me. I was wore thin, and my usually sunny disposition was replaced with a sort of vague outlook on all personal things within me. This was a huge signal to me that something needed to change, and it was in part the reason I took a hiatus from all external demands.
Well, as I stated in that post, I was going to journal every day about positive thoughts, feelings, and outlooks within myself and my surrounding life circumstances. Personally, I find journaling very therapeutic. I think it is quite beneficial in the area of emotionally and intellectually processing one’s internal systems. In the beginning of June, I did find it a little challenging to find that ray of sunshine within. It was sort of like looking up at a grey and cloudy sky without seeing any sunlight. However, I did find at least three things that I could be positive and optimistic about. As the days of June progressed, my positively obsessive journal entries got longer and easier. By the end, I didn’t even feel the need to write out my ‘happy thoughts’ to make them feel real and complete.
This process of letting the sunlight in wasn’t only a mental process I was doing during the month of June. All along, I was emotionally investing in myself in uplifting and healthy ways. I took time to recognize the unhealthy habits I had fallen into during the past six months, and took active steps to replace them with the healthier ones I had known before. I listened to my body when it told me it needed to rest or relax. I actively sought out fun-filled adventures, even though I was still engulfed in a sea of fatigue. The point was, I was purposely becoming mindful about the more positive, healthy, and life-lasting activities that I knew (from previous life experience) would lead me back to sunnier days.
It wasn’t until the church service that I attended yesterday, that I felt like the clouds really parted ways. The pastor, who’s sermons I really enjoy as they always seem to come from a perspective of love and humility, was speaking about freedom. He talked passionately about the human condition that surrounds the aspect of freedom. His teaching point was that freedom is a two-part process. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant by this. Then he went on to explain that freedom is indeed made up of the external factors that we are granted…our inalienable rights, so to say. However, he also spoke of the freedom that comes from within. This freedom, which is won on a personal and internal level; the freedom we grant within ourselves to love completely, forgive whole-heartedly, and accept the greatness within our human condition. Of course, he spoke about the challenges and difficulties that come with that. He also noted the continuing process that this quest entails. However, this message struck a cord within me. Quite frankly, it humbled me.
You see, I am always seeking to better myself. I try to do this in a way to overcome the confinements of my human condition. Within myself, I feel the urge to be free. I strongly desire the fortitude to fly free within this sometimes overwhelmingly oppressive world. The external challenges of these last six months have shown me miracles, heart-ache, joy, loss, pain, courage, defeat, and the best and worst of our human conditions. I have felt elevated and overjoyed at times, and completely spent and exasperated at others. Through all of this, I was trying to hold onto the core value of God and love that I had known from previous life experiences. Thankfully, this time around, I knew of his constant presence and steady hand. However, sometimes knowing isn’t as easy as experiencing.
As I sat in the back pews of this little country church I attend on a Sunday morning, I began to fully see the shackles I had reattached within myself. I was having trouble catching my breath because my soul and essence didn’t feel free. I was struggling to see the sunshine because my heart had become overburdened and I had forgotten to hand it all over. I was struggling because I was trying to master my human condition, all by myself.
This beautiful, simple, and powerful message hit me like a gentle wave. I remembered the key factor to our human masterpiece…the great and powerful God! I was shouldering the worries of the world upon my solitary shoulders again. I was weighed down by responsibilities I can not fully control. Yet most importantly, I had forgotten to feed my spirit and release my soul from the pitfalls of our man-made world.
I had blocked out sweet gentleness in an effort to muscle through. I had detached my needs from the current situation because it felt like there just wasn’t enough time. I had lost perspective of the what-why-and who behind all that truly matters. Because of all of this, I had lost my shine.
Now, recognizing this and changing directions are two different activities. Thankfully, I do recognize the missing piece to my healthy and balanced puzzle. Honestly, I have to accept that it will take time to correct, heal, and overcome the challenges I let back in.