Recently my good friend Linda posted on her blog the following statement…
“…if you want to be strong in the hard times…if you want to be joyful more often…if you struggle with depression ( don’t we all from time to time???)…I challenge you to LOOK for the good in the bad…WORK at making someone else smile…find reasons to laugh even when you feel like crying…surround yourself with people…people who make you smile…but most of all have FAITH that ultimately God will take care of you.”
The idea and the reality of God and the existence of a higher power has been a complicated issue with me lately. I have not been well mentally and, although I am just as I ever was on the outside, inside I have not been myself. I still feel like I am the person I have always been…but I just haven’t been happy. Why is this? Am I hitting a midlife crisis? Am I searching for something that is missing in my life. What is happening to me? Why am I so unhappy. There are many things that have contributed to this state I’m in but I am trying to get better. I read Linda’s statement and it made me think about myself and who I think I am. I’ve always considered myself to be a happy person who knows the difference between good and bad. Being the oldest of 6 children, I’ve always been the responsible one. And now that I have a family and a home and so many bills to pay, I have very much been feeling the weight of carrying these responsibilities for so long. I have started to crack and I see myself losing my sense of well-being.
So now here I am…awake at 2am on an early Sunday morning and I have to be at work in 3 hours. I am searching inside myself for something better; a reason for keeping positive and I’m looking for the good in the bad. And I can see a little light at the end of the tunnel but it is still in the distance. So for now, I have decided to put together a list of the Top 10 things that make me happy and make me feel closer to God. Admittedly I have not been a good follower. I have drifted and have not felt the least bit guilty of it. But I’ve always known that he is here with me, watching me closely and wanting me to do the right things. And now I am listening as carefully as I ever have. These days are trying, my friends. I have a good job and I have wonderful children. I thank him for them both every day. But there are other things that, while they may seem silly to you, are important to me and remind me he is here with me. I know some of them probably won’t make much sense…but here they are…my Top 10 Things That Make Me Feel Closer to God…
10. A long, hot shower
I imagine there are all kinds of scientific studies about the purifying effects of water and the human body but I am not all that interested in them. What I DO know is that every morning during my shower I close my eyes and allow the water to fall over me. It prepares me for my day and gives me a second to gather my thoughts. Sometimes it’s not as helpful as I would like but it is always a way to relax, take a deep breath and get myself ready for whatever is up next.
9. Playing basketball
Although I don’t play competitively anymore, there is nothing more relaxing for me than to be in a gym by myself and shooting a ball through a hoop. I don’t know if it’s the familiarity of it or what, but it opens up my mind and allows me peace. And it has always been my moment to think clearly and openly with myself. Some people go to church. Some people go to therapy. For me…I go to the gym. And usually…that will do.
8. Discovering a lost song that I had long forgotten about
What is it with me and music? I have such a love/hate relationship with the medium and it continues to amaze me the interest I still have in it to this day. I have been a lover of music since I was a kid and there have been many songs that have come & gone. So it is always fun to be driving or standing in a store or at a gas station and hear a song I have not heard in years. Recently it was the Larsen Feiten Band’s “Who’ll Be The Fool Tonight.” And it sent so many memories rushing back from long forgotten places. Silly? Maybe. But it’s always great moment in my day.
7. The smell of fresh cut grass
Every spring it’s like a catharsis. I go out in my neighborhood and just take in the smell. The feeling that the cold and the depression of winter is gone and now it’s the start of the new season. It refreshes me and nothing smells sweeter.
6. A good cup of coffee
I don’t like my coffee black but there is something to said for a really good cup of java. It’s something I enjoy every morning and I like to think I can give it up but…
5. The sense of adventure every time I travel
I know that I have been on the road quite a bit here in the last…oh…14 years or so? But it doesn’t seem to matter where I go, there’s always a bit of wonderment in it for me. Coming from a small town, I never thought I’d get to see the things I’ve seen. Never dreamed that my life would travel down so many roads and I never thought that I would get to experience so much of this great country. It is truly a unique experience to be in New York one minute and then in Kansas City the next and every city & town has something to offer. It is truly a perk…even when it is a cause of some of my hardships.
4. Listening to music while driving with the windows down and the wind blowing through my hair
Does this seem so ridiculous? Just the other night, I was driving home and it was warm enough for me to do just that and with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blaring from my car stereo, I felt alive and young. Is there anything more free than this? I think not.
3. Time spent with my parents and my brother & sisters
I don’t get home nearly enough and I miss each and every one of them dearly. Usually the only chance I get to see them is in the summer and in the cold winter months I miss them more than they can probably imagine.
2. The sense of accomplishment after a long day at work
There is nothing better than getting through an event and feeling as if I have been the part of a great broadcast. Doesn’t matter if the game was good or bad. If I’ve done the best I can to prepare and have done my job to the best of my ability, it gives me a sense of purpose.
1. The laughter of my children
If I live for one thing, it’s to hear them enjoying their childhood. It is through the silliness of my daughter’s giggles and the maniacal way my son laughs when he considers something hysterical that I find a little peace in my long days. And if I were to die today, I would want the last sound I hear to be them, roughhousing with their friends or playing in the backyard. It is through their sense of happiness that I consider the weight of the responsibilities that I have to be bearable. And that alone will get me through these hard times.
So there you have it. MY Top 10 Things That Bring Me Closer To God. What are some of YOUR favorite things that make you feel more at ease with your life?