I later read pieces of my journals from those years and shivered. I do not want to remember my life like this! So I determined to write about the good. Until I changed my journaling style from "Dear Diary" to "Dear God", and I found myself slipping back. For some reason, I had no problem complaining to God and venting to Him! (My excuses were named Job, David, Moses, etc) I found that everyday, when I sat down for my quiet time I would scribble out feelings of frustration, emotional ramblings, cries for help, wisdom, peace! I don't think it's wrong to write these things in one's journal, but I don't think that it's a healthy everyday occurrence.
I wondered why I felt so lousy, why did it seem that my whole life was just consumed by confusion, chaos, confliction? Why did I revert to complaining, to constantly crying out for peace?
Then, as I sat down to write in my journal one day, redundant words already forming in my hand, ready to be etched in ink, I stopped. What was that? It was a singular thought, a simple thought, that hit me out of nowhere: I love porch swings. What??? Where did that come from?
True, it was where I was sitting (the porch swing), with Bible in hand, journal in the other. But right when I'm trying to get my daily dose of giving God my frustrations, why would a petty thought like that come to my mind? But in that same second I realized that it wasn't petty at all. In fact, I was the one being petty, with my senseless emotional ramblings.
I love porch swings. I had trained myself that quiet time was a time of reflection upon what I needed; what I didn't have and what I should ask God for. I had programmed my mind to think of quiet time as simply a time of petition, to ask God to make this happen, to heal this person, to soften so and so's heart, to give me peace, to help me not be so uptight, to help me "get through this"... I failed to recognize what He had already give me!
Amy, what do you love? I love porch swings.
As I rock back and forth, it helps me to sort out my thoughts. Several times have I rocked my baby brother Paul, patting his back, stroking his soft cheeks as he fell asleep on my chest. Heartfelt conversations with my mom, thoughtful talks with my dad, secret confidences with my best friend, and best of all, my talks with Jesus, on that porch swing. Where I drink coffee. Where I go to ponder.
I spent too much time dwelling on what I wanted and needed, and not enough time thanking God for the blessings that He had already been bestowing abundantly upon my head. Was I blind?
No, I wasn't ungrateful, I wasn't blind. But my perspective was off. Again.
I was so focused on my problems. Why "this" didn't feel right, why "this" bothered me, why "this" needed to change, I had put the focus back on myself. Instead of stopping and taking a moment to glance around me, and to see His love for me in action.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6 NASB)
The solution to finding peace and joy is in thanksgiving--not dwelling on my problems, what's wrong, what needs to change, but allowing all petitions to The Lord to flow through my thanksgiving and gratitude. In my prayer and supplication, to make sure that along with my complaints and cries that my lips overflow with abundant praise and thanks. I soon find that complaints are harder to voice when I'm occupied with the blessings surrounding.
What about my hopeful romance? I thought we went over this already, right?
Ha, that's the funny thing about love. It's not always a feeling, an emotion. It takes commitment, it takes work. Sometimes you do things you don't feel like doing, like trying to be grateful for the mundane things of life. But it's the times that you find it hardest to love that your love will grow stronger. Romance isn't about emotional highs. It's about love, through thick and thin, highs and lows. No matter what.
God is not asking me Amy, what's wrong? because He already knows. It's not wrong for me to talk to Him about it, but He would rather hear to answer to this:
Beloved, what do you love?
Well, I love porch swings.
I love waking up when it's dark, and the sun rises around me.
I love coffee.
I love hearing the morning song of the birds.
I love it when the "verse of the day" on the Bible app just so happens to apply perfectly to my day.
Hearing a new song that perfectly captures my heart.
Golden sun showers.
Paul's gummy grin so quick to greet me.
The more I thank Him for what He has given me, my eyes grow eager to seek the beauty that He desires to share with me. I am surrounded by His love, if only my heart is open to receive.
What do you love?