No matter how long I live, I am still taken by surprise at the way life wildly swings from joy to sorrow, all in the same week, and sometimes in the same day! How can so many good things and so many bad things be happening at the same exact time?
In her book, Choose Joy, author Kay Warren says:
“I used to think that life came in waves: There was a wave of good and pleasant circumstances followed by a wave of bad and unpleasant circumstances. Or life was a series of hills and valleys; sometimes we’re up, then we’re down. But I’ve come to realize that life is much more like a set of parallel train tracks, with joy and sorrow running inseparably throughout our days.”
This past year, I have experienced some of the greatest challenges I have known, both at work and in my personal life. I stayed the course and prayed through it to the victory, thankful for the faithful cadre of friends who walked with me through the journey of life. I had my moments where I didn’t handle things perfectly, but who does? Overall, I trusted God to help me wait well as I prayed for a breakthrough. Now at the tail end of the year, I find myself experiencing some incredible dreams come true that I haven’t made public yet, but will soon. And even as dreams unfold on the track that I have prayed for all my life, there are some disappointments that run alongside.
The co-existence of these opposite yet parallel tracks is normal for everyone…I know this. However, it never fails to boggle my mind as to how I can get such mind-blowingly good news one moment and disheartening news the next. It can cause the most even-keeled person to lose their mind. Sometimes the sorrow track can make you want to get off the ride altogether.
“Today I get to…”
Recently the ride on the co-existing tracks got so frustrating that I knew I needed more than my usual spiritual disciplines. I saw the need to put God’s goodness front and center. I needed it in my face all the time, with my eyes on the joy track instead of the sorrow.
I ordered a bunch of bright sticky pads on Amazon. I write the things I have to look forward to on any given day or week, reminding myself of the exciting things I get to do. I highlight the breakthroughs and opportunities that are coming and I remind myself:
“Today I get to lead a cohort!”
“Today I get to have lunch with Judi!”
“Today I get to write a chapter of my book!”
“Today I get to talk to Laura on my way home from work!”
“Today I get to take a walk!”
“Today I get to meet with some great leaders and invest in them.”
“Today I get to soak in my tub!”
“Today get to snuggle with Manny and Mercy!”
The sticky note goes on my mirror right in front of me where I get ready each morning. As I’m blow drying my hair I stare at all these “I get to’s” and I thank God. I have thought about putting one on the dash board of my car since I spend so much time in my car commuting to work and traveling to speaking engagements, but I think it might be a bit dangerous to keep focusing on the sticky note rather than the road. LOL! I am planning on doing a sticky note on my desk at work and anywhere else I can think of that will help me stay focused on the good.
What you tell yourself matters…
Over and over again. I tell myself:
THIS is the good that is happening in my life.
THIS is what I have to look forward to.
THIS is what I have to thank God for.
THIS is what I am concentrating on.
“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8 ”
I have to keep the joys before me or the disappointments will cause me to spiral into a despondent state and keep me there.
It takes a lot for me to keep my mind in the right place. I need God’s Word, worship, prayer, and sleep, and right now, I need sticky notes. My little signs are not only part of my self-care right now — they are part of my soul care.
What about you?
How can you keep your focus on the track of joy instead of the track of sorrow?
I’m not starting a “sticky note ministry” or calling people to one, but what is the unique thing you can do to help keep your mindset where it belongs?
My friend, don’t believe the lie that all that is happening in your life is disappointment. At times in life is seems almost like that “sorrow track” is a louder one that needs some holy WD-40 to shut it up and make it stop squeaking and roaring the loudest.
It’s time to stop letting that track be the only one you dwell on.
I’d love to hear ideas about how you keep your focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.