Today feels like a step backwards…
Despite my best efforts, restful sleep did not come to me last night. Morning crept in bringing with it a fog so heavy and dark as to engulf my entire being. The heaviness I knew all too well had once again returned.
I couldn’t help but feel that I had failed…that I had done something wrong…that this was my fault. Guilt lurked its way into my mind, and with it came the cold fear that darkness was here again to stay. My instinctual response was to lay huddled in fetal position…alone…afraid. I did not feel strong enough to face the day.
Eventually, I summoned the courage to find my way to my knees and plead for help and strength. I begged for light to dispel the darkness. Earnestly, I sought the Lord’s mercy and grace…pleading for strength to replace my exhaustion.
In the gentlest of ways, the darkness lifted ever so slightly, although never lifting enough as to leave me entirely.
Today is going to be hard. Today is going to be a struggle. Today is going to be a battle…a battle that I will not allow myself to lose. Sometimes the steps we take forward are not perceived by ourselves or those around us. That does not mean that these steps are without worth…in fact, I truly believe that the “invisible” steps we take are the steps of the most worth and value…these are the steps taken when we do not give up.
So, today may feel like a step backwards, but it certainly doesn’t mean that it is.
I came across a quote recently that I absolutely LOVE:
“No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy, if only we will see and appreciate it.”
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I want to apply the meaning of this quote in my life, and I have decided to commit to a week long challenge to recognize, accept, receive and share joy with others in my life. I have outlined the following plan for myself with specific daily tasks.
Each day I will:
- Pray, study and meditate
- Reflect in my journal
- Refrain from negative self talk
- Refrain from dwelling on the past
- Focus on gratitude
- Appreciate the small and simple things in my life
- Be accountable to someone in my life
I will be posting the specifics and instructions for each daily challenge…if anyone is wanting to join me in this, I would love the company and support! I will be holding myself accountable to you, and posting my daily journal entries here too.
Day 1: Recognizing Joy
- Pray (Go where you can be alone. Pray out loud and pour out your soul. Express your pains, sorrows, worries, hopes…everything! Take the time to stop, listen and feel)
- Read “I wish I had Let Myself Be Happier” by Dieter F Uchtdorf
- Make a list of all the things that bring you joy and record it in your journal.
- Choose one thing that brings you joy and reflect on it throughout the day. (When negative thoughts enter your mind, replace them by thinking of that one thing that brings you joy)
- Take a photo of something that brings you joy and post it on social media with #joy
- Be accountable to someone (Open up to someone in your life and talk. Tell them of your struggles, tell them of the challenge you are participating in and tell them what brings you joy)
- Reflect in your journal (This time should be used to write whatever your heart desires, and is best done at the end of the day)
Tomorrow I will post my results from today’s assignments, and will share with you what is in store for Day 2. Have a fantastic day!
Reading assignment #1
I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier – Dieter F Uchtdorf
So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
We do matter. We determine our happiness.
You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
How right she is!
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.
Do we say our prayers with only the “amen” or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”6
Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.
Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts. I love the quote: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”7
We are commanded “to give thanks in all things.”8 So isn’t it better to see with our eyes and hearts even the small things we can be thankful for, rather than magnifying the negative in our current condition?
The Lord has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold.”9
Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.