“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)
In my early to mid-20s, I got mixed up in a relationship which I thought was God-honoring, but ended in abuse. In order to break free from that cycle, I was given the blessing of a fresh start.
The relief I felt being freed from that relationship gave me a new appreciation for life. Trees and grass again showcased multiple hues of green, fall (which is my favorite season anyway) was brighter and more colorful that year and I even reveled in the beauty of the snow-covered tree (while nestled safely at home – long before I was married with children of my own and the fear of winter driving had seeped in).
Then life hit hard and as I described previously, Tigger moved out and Eyeore tried to take up residence. However, God is sad when we choose to live life as Eyeore, focused on the negative instead of with an attitude of joy.
In Spoken from the Heart: Choosing a Faith-Filled Adventure, I share how God healed me of many different layers I had been existing under: fear, depression, anxiety attacks, emotional eating (still a work in progress) and holiday depression.
As God has been peeling back the layers of onions, I’ve noticed a wonderful side effect. Joy has been coming back, similar to how it felt years ago when I was freed from the abusive relationship.
The multiple shades of green in the trees have reappeared, the colors of fall are more vibrant and breathtaking than they have been for years, and I truly am delighted with the laughter of my family and the warm smile of my husband.
In fact, in September my husband and I attended a health conference and I signed up for a free health scan. As the expert was reading the results, she was shocked to see I had no “adrenal fatigue,” a symptom she sees patients regularly suffering from in our stress-out, chaos-filled world.
Her question to me was, “Do you live a life you enjoy? You must not have much stress in your life.”
I had to laugh because only a few days earlier, a client I work with said to me, “You must be living the life you love” in response to a comment I had made to her.
In all honestly, I’m not in my sweet spot yet because I’m still waiting patiently for God to reveal His dreams for my life, which I believe are coming soon. However, because I have chosen to trust God, surrender to His plans, and wait for His timing, joy has returned.
With that joy, my ability to love has grown as well. Love as Christ loves. Love those around me – whether or not they are difficult to love or easy to love, my capacity to love has grown along with my joy and gratefulness to be alive.
What about you? What stage do you find yourself in life? Are you struggling to kick Eyeore out? Have you always been a Tigger? What brings you joy and does that increase your capacity to love? Please share with me your examples. I love learning from you.
© Cheri Swalwell 2018; re-posted for encouragement
2 Replies to “Learning to love …”
That’s a tough one! I’m trying to remember something I have been working on for a long time. Trying to look at love as something God has for me, not people. I will say I was so blessed with the parents and grandparents I had. They never failed to show me constant love which is something I know not many people had! Outside of them I seem to have been hit over and over by those I expected to show me love continually. I know-intellectually that the only love that will NEVER disappoint is God’s. But I think it’s pretty normal to always have that hope and desire that we will see love, maybe not perfect (I mean, really? I don’t love that way and can’t expect any other human to either) but at least continual. But even in that, it just never seems to happen. I have always had that from my Daddy, but no one else who is alive. I keep hoping to see that in others but it just doesn’t happen. So I try to keep looking to God’s love for me, and doing the best I can to show it to I to others.
Such a wonderful article!