Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Year..... Resolutions?

This year I decided not to make any resolutions persay but I did make a few decisions. The chief decision I made for 2010 is: GET OVER IT. Or, in Tiffani words: Choose to be happy where God has placed you.

Don't get me wrong, there are things I hope to accomplish for this year, goals we'll call them - lose 35 pounds, get healthy enough that I can run if my knee lets me, find a fella, pass my quals and finish my coursework (hallelujah!), move to an apartment with 500 square feet, etc. But all of these pale in comparison to my one decision: CHOOSE to be happy.

When I moved to LA in 2008, I was still reeling over the loss of my grampa - as you faithful readers will remember. The pain of that loss, coupled with a move to an unfamiliar city where I knew no one really fostered my ire at the Lord. I "didn't want to be in grad school anymore", I "didn't want to be in LA with no friends or family", and I "didn't want to live in a tiny studio apartment with no room to host friends should I ever make any." Oh man, was I harboring resentment.

Despite knowing that the Lord had called me to this endeavor, I was seduced by my feelings and the whispers of the enemy to be discontent. I was like Eve in the garden with everything at my disposal (the Lord had given me such favor here: a three-year fellowship, grace from my faculty advisor and a great working relationship besides, other Christians in my program) but wanting the one thing the Lord had withheld (in Eve's case, the Tree of Life, in my case I saw it as "my plan" - a husband, children, an income....).

I tried hard to give an aura of happiness and contentedness, but ultimately it was not true. In the first year, I can give myself some grace. Grief can easily become complicated and entangled with other losses and I know that my sadness was just as often the brokenheartedness I felt at the loss of my grampa as it was my life situation. But then the summer came. It started out great with visits to friends in TX and friends coming to visit me, yet soon I was mired in the self-pity and sadness that I had experienced in late 2008 and early 2009. As the fall quarter began and it was not getting better, I got to a breaking point. I knew I needed to talk to someone, so I sought out a counselor at UCLA.

My times with her were good. But even better was that through our few meetings, I realized that I was hindering myself in a lot of ways. I was fighting the Lord on every front. Where the Lord had given me grace upon grace here in LA, I was screwing up my face as though He was feeding me medicine - like a little child. So I made the decision to be proactive with my life instead of reactive. To receive what the Lord had to offer with open and willing hands and to see what happened.

Since January, my circumstances have not changed much outwardly - though my community of friends in LA is getting stronger and my relationships are deepening which is an answer to prayer - but my inner circumstances are improving. I still get discouraged when the road blocks pile up, and because I've been struggling with headaches since December I have to be vigilant to keep looking up even when I feel sick (it is much harder for me to have a good attitude when my head hurts). And there have DEFINITELY been times when I am a total jerk still. 

But the Lord is working in me.

I used to say, "I never wanted to get a PhD! What am I doing?" but now I say, "The Lord has called me here, and I will do my best and see where he is leading me." I used to say, "How in the world does this pit stop in my life facilitate the other goals I have? (i.e. to be a wife and mother, to live in a house with a dog, etc)" but now I say, "The Lord prunes us to help us grow in a certain way and his plan for me involves this place and time."

Sometimes happiness is not a choice. If you are trying to choose happiness and you continue to be in a dark place, then I encourage you to seek out a trained counselor who can help you talk out why it is that you might be experiencing those feelings. But if you examine yourself and realize that your discontentedness is a result of fighting the Lord, as mine was, then I urge you to join in with me in my New Year's Decision and choose happiness.

I'll keep you posted......