Hot tea sits on the counter beside me. A warm fire in the corn/wood pellet burner. The house is quiet. It's nap time. A slight chill in the air makes me shiver a little. I look over at my bag of books and journals, knowing it's in there. It's been sitting around for almost a month now, untouched, the pages unmarred by ink of any sort. That journal that was a gift to me, that one that I knew right away I wanted to turn into my "thankfulness and blessings" journal. The one that would record the things I thanked God for every day, just little somethings to make me take the time to make a list, the one that would force me to think about what I was thankful for each and every day. The one that has all but remained unopened.
I think about life ... my life.
Sometimes, every once in a great while (I say this facetiously) life doesn't always go the way you plan. Sometimes you get married and prince charming isn't quiet as perfect as Cinderella's prince (Go ahead, all you married people, let it out, laugh ... I know. For all you singles out there, I'm sorry to burst your bubble). Sometimes words hurt, sometimes actions hurt, sometimes he's not always the happy-say-the-perfect-thing-all-the-time-and-show-you-without-fail-how-much-you-mean-to-him kind of prince that fairy tales convince you is what you need and should look for. Sometimes he's just a normal, everyday kind of prince who loves you no matter what happens.
Sometimes those perfect little children who you're raising aren't always happy either. Sometimes they don't obey, don't do what they are told and also say mean, hurtful things. Every now and again they are crabby, whinny and picky. (Again, all you parents out there, go ahead and laugh.)
Sometimes the ideal picture in my head of what a wife should be and should do is so hard to reach. Sometimes picture perfect happiness in every situation (because don't you know wives are supposed to be happy all the time and encouraging and be the one that makes things all better) is just not attainable. Sometimes there are hard times, sometimes I'm not even close to what I should be (or more often then not, I'm not what I should be). That perfect wife who always has supper ready on time (with a smile), the food always tasting amazing because I've labored over it for hours, just isn't who I am. Sometimes I'm the wife who, when her husband gets home, stills has no idea what she's going to make. Sometimes, only sometimes (again with sarcasm) I'm not very nice or pleasant to be around. Sometimes, I'm the step-mom who gets angry, and is mean and not very nice.
I had dreams! I had hopes, ideals and the perfect idea of what life and marriage and life after marriage was going to be. It was, after all, what I had been preparing for only my whole life. It's what I thought about, prayed for and longed for. (With that much planning and preparation it couldn't possible be different than what I thought, right?)
So, I guess what I'm trying to get at is NOT that everyone should remain single. Marriage is wonderful! Having that someone that you become one with and share your life with is amazing. That bond that you have is indescribable and I would never trade it. Yes, people are imperfect with imperfections and will do things that are not perfect (seeing a pattern here?), but that's because we are all sinners before a holy God. God never promised that life would be perfect, He promised His perfectness and His perfect grace for every imperfection we bring and have.
Having my "thankfulness and blessings" journal staring, blank and unused, at me has really been making me think. Why haven't I used it? Just because life isn't perfect and we don't all float around on cloud nine our whole lives doesn't mean that we can't be happy.
We are called to give thanks for and in all things ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:6. Even when we don't feel like giving thanks we are to give thanks.
That doesn't mean that we are happy and bubbly all the time. Sometimes there are times when quiet reflection and taking time to deal with sorrows and our attitudes are needed. Even Jesus wasn't happy all the time ~ Luke 22:41-44. I don't mean to say, in anyway shape or form, that our trials and times of sorrow and testing are anything close to what Jesus went through, but in His hard times He wasn't always smiling and bubbly, this is my point.
Even the Psalmist wasn't always happy either. He talks many times of the "brokenhearted", the "bowed down", the "lowly", the "weary". But there is one in particular that I'm thinking of ~ Psalm 42:5,11. Here he says, "Why are you cast down, oh my soul ... Hope in God ..."
And here, people, is where this whole long rambling post was going.
Notice how he talks to himself? He questions himself (or his soul) as to why he is cast down and his answer is to tell himself to hope in God. Not necessarily shaking himself but kind of. He is telling himself to make the choice to hope in God. Can I not do the same thing? Can I not say to myself, "Hope in God. Joy in God. Choose to be happy, choose to take joy, choose to give thanks"?
So, while my journal was staring at me, and thoughts came and went and floated around in my head, I came to the conclusion that finding joy, being happy, being pleasant, being thankful, being kind, being loving and other such similar things are sometimes choices. Something we sometimes have to make ourselves do. And I believe, that when we get into the habit of looking for and choosing joy and thankfulness that God brings it into our hearts as well, so it becomes a more natural thing.
My point? Choose.