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Loving the Life God Gave Us

Godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6)  In other words, the highest, most honorable gain, in this life time, is found in the pursuit of being content with being God-like.  Do that and you are a success in God's eyes.  Sadly, the messages of contemporary culture, both Christian and secular, are often anything but spiritual.  Being successful is defined by all the trappings that come with material pursuits, how fat your bank account is, and who calls you friend.  All these things have become synonymous with success and the pursuit of them is tantamount to everything else.  Popular cultures often confuses and intertwines these two, but they dare not be joined.  The challenge is to live in today's culture without being sucked into this mindset.  This has been doubly challenging for Glen and me.  It's much easier said than done with mental illness on board and here's why. 

Society values performance and perfection over principle, and charisma over character.  I know why!  Happy stories sell! Sad stories make people sad...they have to stop and think and let's face it, most people don't have time to think! We spread the love of happy stories everywhere.  We plaster all the popular media and social sites with stories that make us feel all soft and warm inside.  Don't get me wrong, I like happy stories too.  The reality of life is that sometimes bad things happen to good people... people like us!  I also believe good things happen to some not so deserving people...people like...oh I won't say who!  I strongly dislike when people tout Christianity as their reason for attaining material wealth or substance.  Behind that message is another message that says if you struggle, or never achieve wealth or fame, they you must not be a very good Christian.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The American Dream has been distorted and the distortion of this dream has permeated modern culture.  We have been told that success is the fulfillment of all material substance.   

If we truly believe the message of Christ, then we would understand he measured success through transformation.  Most Christians say they know this intellectually, but they don't understand it in terms of practicality!  Mental illness has demanded that we take a look at truth from the vantage point of loss, disappointment and missed opportunities. Fortunately, life isn't about being perfect.  If it was, we wouldn't survive it and neither would you!  Christianity is not about perfection, either, but about the pursuit of the perfect God, and striving with his energy to be the best we can be through his mercy and grace.  

Every person and their story isn't a fairy tale of perfection with a perfect happy ending.  That mentality seems to be what makes some stories go viral.  Why not spread the stories of those whose battle has been real, challenging, fraught with difficulties, but they overcame them all!  What about those stories?  And so, I find myself here...touched by adversity with a less than picture - perfect, storybook life.  Nothing I write, or post goes viral.  We don't make headlines.  No one is calling to make a movie of our lives... though I think it is great movie material.  I work daily within the struggle of obscurity.  My life is far from normal or perfect and I believe in this less than perfect struggle, I have found the secret.   

Our mission is  loving the life God gave us tm.  He didn't call me to a perfect life.  He has challenged me to be great within the boundaries of mental illness, depression and loss...  to see these difficulties as opportunities for his grace to be made real in my life.  I am not to be envious of the fame or fortune of others, though I often wish I could achieve dreams that would take me there.  As I have come face to face with deep loss and grief, I have accepted God's grace.  He has enabled me to see I can still thrive in the midst of our challenges.  The soil of life has been craggy and rocky at times, but still I have reached for the source of water and life has come every time. To compare my life to the lives of others is foolish and God warns us not to do so.  This comparative analysis spawns deadly ambitions and self-doubt.  It can leave you empty and never satisfied, always long, but never achieving.  In our attempts at loving the life God gave us tm , I have made it my mission to accept the difficult road as an opportunity in disguise.  I have an affinity for cast offs, discarded rubble, junk...and I find I can identify with these things.  If only they could talk.  What stories they would tell...stories of neglect, abuse, abandonment. Until someone comes along and sees their value and their potential, they are all but lost

And so... in these pieces there is a mirror reflecting back to me.  It reminds me that I have been the lost and overlooked one.  My husband and I have been discarded and neglected.  We have experienced emotional abuse at the hands of "good Christians" and we have been considered as rubbish.  But God sees value in me/us!  Often when I faced abandonment, I have remembered my affinity for discarded rubbish!  Like those pieces, I have waited for God to pick me up from life's dump, take me home, brush me off, clean my wounds and display me with a beautiful vase of flowers.   

He has made my imperfections a mark of character. I come back to this fact over and over, God sees value in me!  Ultimately, that's all that matters. Though many don't see my worth, he does!  Though my dreams are often abandoned because mental illness takes too much time and energy, he sees and thanks me for my commitment to my husband.  Though I have cried tears over loss, he has become my best friend...never abandoning me but always comforting me and reminding me that I am his and he is mine...forever!  Though grief has often been my food, he has sustained me with hope in Him.  I am forever loved and cherished by the one who made me and by the one whose has charted a course for my life.   

I have not been called to a life of significance as far as social media would have it!  I have a life of significance because God has deemed this is the path for me.  I am someone to walk this road with my husband so I can show the world how to do it!  Though I have not done it perfectly, I have stood with him when no one else has stood.  I have comforted him when family abandoned us.  I have cheered him on and told him to keep dreaming even when the dreams seemed silly and unreachable!  When funds were low and I dreamed of having a pretty home, I found a way to make it as lovely as possible...all on a shoe string budget.  I didn't do this because rethriving things was hip and cool.  I did it because necessity demanded my creativity! I was challenged by the restrictions of a slim budget and found purpose in making something beautiful in spite of it.  This incessant need for creativity has been extremely therapeutic.  As I have transformed junk into something of value, I have also been transformed.  I find I am more peaceful.  With every step toward the acceptance of the road God has chosen for me, I find more and more that I am loving the life God gave us tm.


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