June 17, 2013
by Anne
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Am I Willing to Let it Go?

Sometimes I wish that happiness was a simple thing. That depression and struggles and being overwhelmed and frustrated were simple instead of complex and confusing and difficult. The past few weeks I have been cramming my head with positive thoughts, and it has definitely been changing my outlook on life. I guess I was hoping for a cure all. For the mother pearl solution to all my problems. But positive thinking can only take you so far. (Which does however, happen to be a heck of a lot farther than pessimistic thinking.)

So why is it that when my sister gets to go on some exotic vacation I start feeling sad and jealous and sorry for myself? I have been non stop chanting “I am happy when other people are happy” and while those words help…deep down I still feel kind of jealous.

Why is it that even though I keep saying “God will bless me abundantly with the things that I need” I still look out my back window at my unfinished backyard, and the notice from the city that says we need to finish it by the end of the summer…and I am filled with stress and panic and anxiety?

Why is it that even though I say “I deeply and completely accept myself as I am right now” I still get frustrated that I’m not better?

And why am I not patient even though I keep telling myself that I am????

I think words are powerful. I honestly don’t think we can become anything we don’t believe we can become. If we don’t believe we can become optimistic we will always be pessimists. If we don’t believe that we can be happy when other people are successful and get to go on nice trips and we just get to stay home…then we definitely will NOT be happy. If  we don’t express our faith and trust in God when times are tough, then how will we ever have real faith? If we don’t think that we are of infinite value, we will never truly know that we are valuable beyond belief. And If we don’t believe that deep down inside of us their is a reservoir of patience just waiting to be discovered…we will never find it.

Words (and thoughts) are powerful.

But God is even more powerful.

Yesterday I realized that maybe it is my part to change my thinking, and Gods part to change the way I am feeling.

I can say things like “I am happy when other people are happy.” and “I am filled with joy when others succeed, or have their dreams fulfilled.” But I can’t force myself to actually feel that way. But if I really truly desire those feelings, God can give them to me…if I ask.

But do I really want it? Or don’t I?

Sometimes jealousy and pain and envy and anger and sadness are hard feelings to let go of (they can be tricky). It seems so silly. It doesn’t make sense that I would want to cling so tightly to those kinds of feelings. But I do. I feel so justified. So right. So hurt. So neglected. So sad. And it only seems fair that I feel the way I do. It seems unfair to let them go…you know?! Like maybe I would be letting the other person off the hook or accepting the fact that I wont be going on a nice vacation or something. So do I really want to feel better? Do I really really want to let it go?

Yesterday it dawned on me that I have to do more than just “think positive thoughts” about situations, I have to do more…and be willing to let my feelings go.  I can’t just change my thinking about a situation (though this is a start), I have to also be willing to allow God to take my feelings of jealousy away, my feelings of anger away, my feelings of pain and anxiety away. I have to be willing and ready to give them to him. literally.

What would it be like to not have to feel like this anymore? What would I feel like if I really let God have this? Would I be ok if I forgave this person? Would I be ok if I forgave myself? Would it be ok if someone else came up on top? Would I be ok if I allowed myself to rejoice in the joys of others while perhaps I am suffering myself? Seriously hard questions to answer. But when the answer finally turns into a yes…and you cry out to God and say “I am finally ready for you to take this pain away, this pain that Jesus has already suffered, this pain that I have been desperately clinging too…I don’t need (or want) this pain anymore…” I think it is in these kinds of moments that life becomes beautiful again. That we become beautiful. That we become free.

Maybe happiness isn’t found in thinking “I am happy when other people are happy” Maybe true happiness is found when I really desire to feel that way. Maybe it doesn’t come from thinking “I am a forgiving person” but maybe it comes when I am actually ready to be filled with feelings of forgiveness. When I don’t just say it, But I actually mean it, and I actually want it.  And maybe it is in this moment that God steps in and changes everything.

June 4, 2013
by Anne
3 Comments

Pessimist Becoming Optimist

YOU are Loved

I have been thinking a lot lately about positive affirmations…A LOT. I guess maybe it is because I used to be so used to thinking negative affirmations, that trying to fill my head with the positive ones takes so much concentration and effort that I have to constantly be focusing on it.

I must admit, that I used to think there were two kinds of people. The pessimistic kind, and the optimistic kind, and I really didn’t think that I had a choice. I was a pessimist, and well, the glass was always half empty. End story.

It is kind of crazy to me, the thought that a pessimist can choose to become an optimist. And that the challenge lies in our thoughts. In what we spend time thinking about. Sure, there are plenty of things to be negative about (believe me, I have spent  years pointing them out to myself) but the longer I have been trying to think only about the positive, the more I am beginning to realize how much their is to be positive about.

For me, my journey to becoming an optimist began with a break down. A big ol’ fat, I hate the world and I hate myself kind of break down. I was feeling picked on and sorry for myself and completely out of control. In a desperate attempt to help myself  I came across a book about thoughts. I bought it on the spot…and I really feel like it was an answer from heaven for me. The author recommends that we fill our minds with powerful optimistic thoughts. Things like: I am a Child of God, God will bless me abundantly, I am filled with peace, I am a good friend, I am valuable, I am full of faith etc.

Sometimes those words feel like lies. Sometimes the only things I think about myself are the negative ones…especially after I make any kind of mistake. Boy, Satan sure had me good. I had it all backwards.

According to Moroni “that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God…but whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil” (Moroni 7:13, 17)

Negative thinking about myself (and others) does not make me want to serve God. In fact it makes serving God seem impossible…because I will never be good enough. Negative thinking…all of it…is a big ol’ fat lie.

How come I never connected this scripture to the way I was thinking??? Thinking thoughts like “I am a mistake, I suck, I am a piece of s*** “(uh, yeah I might have thought that about myself a couple times…don’t tell) those are the lies. But it is NOT a lie that I am valuable. It is NOT a lie that God loves me unconditionally. It is NOT a lie that I am a child of God, or that I have the ability to love and be kind to others. satan wants me to think I am a nobody. But I am a somebody. And frankly he is terrified of my potential. Wasn’t it Moses who exclaimed to satan “Who art thou? For I am a son of God!” Thinking that way changes everything. We are children of God…and children of God should only think optimistic thoughts. They should only think truth.

If we are thinking bad things about ourselves we need to STOP! It is hard. I am still trying to do it. And maybe…maybe I will have to continue to try to do it for the rest of my life. But it is changing me. It is giving me hope. It is making me happy! Because the truth makes us happy.

Get a pad of sticky notes and write the truth all over them. Things like: My soul is precious, I accept myself deeply and completely right now, God loves me, I am happy, I enjoy my life, God blesses me abundantly, I am brave, I am kind, I am full of hope. Stick them up all over your house. Don’t mind what anybody else thinks. Read them. Say them. Shout them in satan’s face when he starts telling you lies. You may not believe the positive thoughts…yet…but say them anyway…and I promise you that you will come to believe them, because they are TRUE!

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” —Buddah

If we want to be happy, we need to think happy thoughts! You cannot be happy any other way. Determine to become an optimist. Scream it to the world. I am an optimist! And quicker than you would think you will begin to believe it, because it will be true.

I AM AN OPTIMIST! (I believe it now, I really do…and that is coming from a lifelong pessimist.)

May 23, 2013
by Anne
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The Ugly House

Sometimes it is easy for us to be trapped by pessimism.

Yesterday I was feeling pretty negative. I’m not sure why some days are so much harder for me than others but I was really struggling. A lot. I decided to get out of the house and take my son and my daughter for a little walk. They piled into the wagon and we set off. As we started walking I asked my son to tell me what he liked most about one of the houses we were passing. He said he liked that it was the color blue. I asked again about the next house, and he said he liked the bricks. I couldn’t figure out what he meant since the house had stucco (not brick) but after asking him again he told me that he liked the bricks on the roof aka the shingles. We went on like this around the neighborhood. I liked the tulips, he liked the windows. I liked the pretty swing on the porch, he liked the green sled that was filled with water lying on the grass. Then we passed the ugly house. I was really enjoying my “optimism” game and as I started looking at this particular house my heart started to sink. The grass was dying, the house was plain ol’ brown, there weren’t any flowers, there were tons of weeds, and I didn’t like anything about it—at all. I started to feel a bit panicked. But then I saw the tree planted in the park strip. It was gorgeous. Dark green. Perfectly shaped. I was so relieved.

I’ve heard it said, that if you look hard enough you can find something positive about everything, something good in every situation, something good about every person. I believe that that might be true, but I have a feeling that for me…it might take a lot of practice. Pessimism can be a hard habit to break.

Today, as I walked by that ugly house again the door was open, and I could see the family. I realized that even if that tree had never been planted and even if I would have been unable to think of a single thing positive about that home, that today as I walked by I would have been able to easily spot it. Maybe just because we can’t see it the first time…doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

May 22, 2013
by Anne
1 Comment

Replacing the Should with Could

A few days ago I was inspired by someone’s idea to stop using the word should and replace it with the word could.

The first thing that came to my mind was “I should do the dishes” and after replacing it with “I could do the dishes” I realized that I actually had a choice. A choice which was surprisingly as motivating to actually get me to do them, as it was to give me an excuse to skip out until a more convenient time…

Sometimes we live our lives doing particular things because we should do them and sometimes we just feel guilty about all of the things we should do, but we can’t seem to find/make time for. I don’t know about you, but I always feel guilty when the dishes are piled high and I’m exhausted beyond belief and that lingering “should do the dishes” wont leave me alone. But maybe the problem isn’t the dishes, maybe the problem is the guilt. Maybe I am spending too much time thinking about all of the things I should have done, when the truth is, that if I turn the should into a could everything makes a lot more sense…because now it is a tangible choice:  I could do the dishes (I really could). Do I want to right now, would now be the best time to do them? Or maybe I could not do the dishes, and instead play a game with my kids before they go to bed? Which one could I do right now and which one could I do later? My kids could help me do the dishes, my husband could wash the table or I could go play… I think it removes the guilt, removes the excuse and makes us choose.

I wonder if all my should’s is why I am so terrible at making choices?

Anyhow, I kind of like thinking in could’s not should’s…

I could weed the garden.

I could go to the grocery store.

I could play outside with the kids.

I could run through the sprinklers.

I could help someone in need.

I could smile.

I could make dinner.

I could do something spontaneous.

I could _________.

May 21, 2013
by Anne
1 Comment

Lift up the Hands that Hang Down

I have often wondered how I can lift other people when I am feeling so desperately the need to be lifted? How can I give to others, when inside, I feel empty? How can I give a smile, when I feel like frowning? How can I help the weary, when I am so exhausted?

Sometimes, I want to be the one who gets helped…

There have been a few times in my life where I have literally cried out for help, and no one came. I’ll be honest, when I tell you, that sometimes I have thought “When is it my turn…when is the miracle going to happen for me?” When I am sitting alone in church, desperately longing for a friend, I have had the thought “when is someone going to sit by me…when is someone going to notice?”

A few years ago, I realized that no one was going to notice. I realized this when I saw another girl, just like me, sitting a few isles away. She looked lonely…and I realized that I had to do the noticing…even though I desperately wanted someone to notice me.

Three days ago, I was back feeling sorry for myself. Wondering why? Why don’t I have anybody to talk to who understands? Why is no one helping me? Why doesn’t someone knock on my door after I’ve had such a terrible day and say “I thought I would stop by, I was just thinking of you.”

Two days ago we took our 3 little kids to make sandwiches for the homeless. I had a fun time making the sandwiches and watching my daughter (especially) get excited to help. But when it came to delivering them, I got scared. I’ve never actually been to the Road Home, I’ve never actually walked among the poor. I was terrified. But as we walked, and handed out sandwiches I realized something:

I have been given much, and much is expected from me.

I can’t stay at home moping about thinking “Why me? When is someone going to help me?” Because there are too many people who need help, and not enough people helping. The strong can’t use being weak as an excuse. 

Maybe in a perfect world, someone would show up on my doorstep every time I needed a hand. And maybe every time I was feeling down, someone would come skipping by to give me flowers and a hug and say that perfect something that I needed to hear. But this world…is hurting.

It is true, that sometimes I am hurting…but I have the truth. I know God loves me and I know it is my duty to help others find him…

It is easy to start feeling sorry for ourselves. I know, I do it all the time. It is easy to think “Why don’t I have any friends?” or “When is someone going to listen to me?” or “When are my challenges going to be eased?” In essence: ” When is someone going to show up on my front door the moment before I pass out in hunger, with that box of much needed food?”—the only thing is, that I have a box of food already sitting in my kitchen…so why am I not eating it, and why am I not giving it away?

Sometimes I want to live an excuse. I want to rely on others for my strength. But we are not going to find strength from others…if we are the strongest ones. It is time. Time to choose. Time to stand up out of mud, and lift down our weary hands to those who are even more weary. And maybe…maybe that is when we will find our strength.