My life isn’t a bed of roses. I have a chronic illness that ravages my body on a daily basis. I spend every waking moment in pain. My skin often has rashes, itches, or just plain hurts. Choosing to make plans with others is a challenge because most mornings I wake feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. There are times when my mind doesn’t want to function with clarity because it is so preoccupied with this ache or that that I can barely focus on anything else (doubly a challenge with an active toddler and school work to think about).
I am a new military wife (but not a new wife, we’ve been married for 5+ years) who has entered this life much later in life than most of my contemporaries. My place in the scheme of things on base is such that other wives my age have husbands at a higher rank and different point in their career than my husband. Those in the “same boat” as me are often so much younger that my interests and education set me apart from (but NOT above, never “above”) many of them. I feel like an outsider every single day here.
I had to leave “my” seminary where I was working on a graduate degree and studying theology with plans to become ordained within my church and work as a pastoral counselor. Now I’m “across the pond” and thousands of miles from my school, my church, and my cohorts. I’m adapting to a new school, doing half my degree online and facing the future worries of making it to campus in a state separate from where we will ever end up stationed for the other half.
All of these facts I face daily knowing that I live literally half way around the world from about 95% of my support system of the past 29 years. I turned 30 in a new country, on a new continent, in this new life I did not actively chose with a husband who is trying to find his way in this military life, too. We’re both fish out of water here (which has had some benefits to our relationship) and sometimes it feels very much like we’re flopping around on shore trying desperately to find our way back to the water so we can “breathe” again.
That said, I love my life. What? Yes, you read that correctly. I Love my life. I could list a litany of complaints. I could recount worries and concerns to fill a multi-volume tome on “how difficult my life is.” But couldn’t we all? Yes, I’ve lived more years as “the sick girl” than I ever was a “normal, healthy” person. My family makes sacrifices daily so that we can serve our country and my husband can help do the work that helps keep America free. My career goals are put on hold for this very thing. My son is so far away from all the family with whom I had hoped he’d share much time in his early years. And yet, I love my life.
I do because, while I have worries and concerns, I also have so many blessings. By God’s grace, I was born into a loving and devoted family, found a wonderful husband, had a beautiful child, discovered my calling, and built an incredible system of close friends. I am blessed to live in an age where technology can keep me close to these people and help me accomplish great things despite my challenging obstacles.
You see, I chose happiness. I seek out optimism. I look for it in new friends, spend more time with family members who show it, and often find it in my entertainment. When I look to my future, though there are certainly possibilities for horrible events and outcomes, I make a genuine attempt to “find the fun” (Buffy quote, LOOK OUT!). I can’t say I don’t worry. I do. I have much to worry about. But I also have God to share that burden (and sometimes to carry it completely so I don’t have to).
As Buffy so aptly put it at the end of season five,
“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”
Life isn’t easy. I’m not sure where we ever got the idea that it ought to be or that we were entitled to an easy road. We all have our proverbial crosses to bear. But we do it because we have to. Only we don’t have to do it alone. People laugh at my pop-culture obsessions. Some giggle about it as though I’m some ignorant nerd minion who is choosing to waste her time on trivial and silly television shows and films. But you know what? Those trivial story lines about silly characters have lent themselves quite well to building me into the person I am today. That very nerdy influence has helped bring me closer to my spiritual core and deepened my relationship with God. Those geek-influences have helped me explore life’s meaning and “find the fun.” So laugh if you will, the joke’s not on me.
I urge you to “find the fun” for yourself and, as the subject line suggests: See Optimistic People, experiences, and facts of life. Acknowledge the negative influences in your life, they’re there. They’re there for all of us. But they aren’t all that is there. Where’s the good in your life?
Focus on it.
Thank God for it.