Hey hey there everyone. I am settling in to write today with a content heart after spending a lovely weekend with my sweet husband. Gratitude seems to be a topic that is coming up for me quite a bit recently and for quite some time I have been thinking that I wanted to become more of an optimist and less of a realist. In the region I grew up people often have a negative mindset; something that can be easily picked up and yet very challenging to break. Have you ever noticed that if you are around someone that is always complaining, your tendency may be to complain right along with them? We all want to fit in and feel like we have some common ground with people so it can be easy to pick up on each other's tendencies. But more than that, negativity is like a virus, it spreads over what's good and reproduces what's bad. God has been helping me to see lately that optimism is not the answer to my negative thinking. No, the answer is contentment and gratitude.
This summer has been somewhat lonely for Don and I on a personal level. We are both transplants to Richmond (he being from South Florida, and me of course, from East Tennessee) and we have really struggled finding a community together for various reasons since we were married. The first year and half of our marriage we were in a constant state of survival due to dealing with a number of crises and at that point just getting through was number one on our priority list (there is something about trauma and crisis that makes everything else pale in comparison and nothing as important as leaning on each other and surviving). However, as we have settled out of that place and into the place of being married in the day-to-day we are starting to value community once again. Even now, however, finding that community can be quite hard.
There are many reasons people in our generation our struggling to find community, and I wont go into those reasons here as that could be an entirely separate post altogether. I do know this with certainty though: Don and I are not alone in our struggle. And whatever the reasons Don and I have struggled, it has not been from a lack of effort on our parts. I have spent a large majority of my summer somewhat dreading the weekends. Fall will be busy with weddings but this summer I have been building the business. As the weekends approach I long for people that we can hang out and do life with. Don't get me wrong, we each have our own friends separately but most of Don's friends don't live here anymore, and we don't really have friends together as a married couple. I, naively, imagined this to be an uncomplicated process. I figured, you meet people, you hang out, you become friends. Simple right? Boy was I was wrong. Apparently meeting friends as a couple is akin to meeting your significant all over again but with two people. Fretting over this very thing has stolen some of my joy this summer.
It was something that my mom said during a recent phone conversation that sparked something in me and things began to change. I was sharing with her the feelings of sadness I was experiencing over our lack of people to hang out with and her response in a nutshell was "Just hang out and have fun together." Now, this may seem like an obvious and simple statement to most people, but to me it was quite profound. It hit me, not immediately, but when it did it woke me up from my pity party. I had spent my summer focused on what I didn't have, not on the enormous blessing in my husband that I did have. Don was ready to do stuff with me pretty much at any time, but I didn't want to for the most part because it was just going to be the two of us.
I do think God cares deeply about the loneliness that we all probably feel at times. I think His desire is for us all to be living in abundant and joyful community, but alas that will not always be a reality this side of Heaven. In the meantime though, he has blessed Don and I with a wonderful companion and friend in each other and we would not be honoring that blessing if we did not enjoy it and show our gratitude for it. "18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV).
I let discontentment steal the joy of sharing life with this wonderful man that God has given me. Last week it was like He clearly spoke to me in my spirit saying, "You are missing it. Stop waiting for people to enjoy life with; do that with the husband I have given you." So, I decided to get off my butt and start making some fun on our own. We bought a Wii U on Thursday and had more fun playing it this weekend than just about anything I can remember in quite some time. Then yesterday, we bought season tickets to Busch Gardens and had the best time (just the two of us) spending time together. Don and I talked on the ride home about how thankful we were for the life we'd been given. It's funny because when I woke up this morning, one of my devotionals was on gratitude; it was like a little confirmation from God (I have noticed the closer I get to Him and the more intimacy we share, the more clearly and obviously He communicates with me in any given situation).
Our situation didn't change. We have no more community now than we had then, but an attitude change can do amazing things. Granted we don't have a lot of money, and we may not have a large community but we are abundantly blessed in the life God has given us. I felt the pure and unadulterated peace of contentment this weekend. It was the contentment in realizing what has been done for us and how abundant of a life we have been given. It is not always easy to be grateful and there are some things that are almost impossible to thank God for, but we shouldn't spend our whole lives focused on what we don't have: that elevator never stops.
As always thanks for stopping by. My consistent prayer is that even just one heart will be touched for God's sake.