Fifty-Four. Blessed

I have my share of complaints about the world. I think we all do, and I think that’s ok.

But I also think it’s worth acknowledging problems and moving on from there instead of dwelling on negative thoughts.

Easier said than done.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

What an important reminder, but it can be a major challenge some days.

Many people know I started a new job recently. I have a lot of complaints now–about my schedule (I’m out of the house for 10 hours!), about people who can be difficult to work with, about not getting paid enough, about being tired all the time–and sometimes it might seem that I don’t like my job or that I’m not happy with where I am in life.

That’s simply not true.

It’s not the ideal job, I’ll admit. I’m not doing what I love. But there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for.

The very fact of being employed is something worth celebrating. My coworkers are lovely people who laugh and share and make my day brighter. I even have the opportunity to be creative and play with graphics for social media! (I’ll be posting my creations on a separate page.)

I complained that the cost of my bus pass went up but thank God I’m employed and can still afford it, and it has allowed me to ride previously express routes so it can sometimes be a little easier to get to work. (*It still takes a long time and I was perfectly satisfied with paying less than express pass people and only using the 95… but that sentiment didn’t fit the tone of this post.)

I complain ceaselessly about winter, and while I still can’t find anything good to focus on about this awful season (the snow stops being pretty when it’s on the ground), I can be extremely thankful that my parents are as wonderful and generous as they are. I’m so blessed by them, especially this season because I hate spending money on myself, even for things that are necessary, but they love me and want to make sure I’m dressed appropriately for the harsh weather we experience daily. My coat was old and ugly, didn’t fit my arms, the hood didn’t cover my head properly and the pocket was ripping, so my mom bought me a gorgeous new coat for an obscene price (although apparently good coats can actually cost more than $200 so maybe I should be thankful mine was less!). My winter boots are falling apart so I’ve been wearing fall boots and while I can layer socks to keep my feet warm, I can’t keep them from getting soaked. So my dad took me to buy new winter boots, again pricey, but now I’m comfortable, warm, dry and I can be thankful for all of that.

Constantly reminding ourselves of all the bad things we experience might feel therapeutic in the moment, we might feel a righteous anger and therefore justified in our complaints – and likely, they are completely valid issues that should be addressed – but I’d like to challenge myself to spend more time and energy being thankful for the good things.

Complaining usually won’t solve the problem anyway (although sometimes if you talk to the right person, they might be able to change something for you), but it will bring your mood down and it can rob you of joy.

At least it has for me before.

Listen, winter is terrible, but it does end eventually. And perhaps all it’s good for is helping us appreciate the other seasons more. But can you imagine spending 6 months making yourself miserable by thinking only about how awful this season is? Is that going to make it any less disgusting? Is that going to speed up time so it passes more quickly? (*Winter is officially only three months long according to the calendar, but it definitely lasts longer in practice… but not always 6 months… sometimes it’s even more!)

I’m thankful we have the freedom to complain, but I’m even more thankful for the endless blessings I experience daily and for the opportunities God gives us to rejoice and praise Him.

Be blessed and know you are loved.

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Forty-Seven. Simplicity and Steadfastness.

Recently, life has been very busy. A lot of assignments have been due, a lot of events have been going on and I don’t feel like my life is simple anymore.

I’m always juggling things, I’m sacrificing one thing (like sleep) for other things (like writing essays), and all the different choices are tough too.

Life is complicated.

But I suppose that’s how it should be.

When life is complicated, we appreciate the simple things so much more.

Recently I’ve been having a few conversations with different people about writing. Not only do I write essays for school – I am studying journalism and literature after all – but I also love to write, as evidenced by this blog, and I appreciate language, I love sophisticated vocabulary and complex (but properly used!) grammar is exciting.

But not every sentence has to have 53 ideas crammed into and not every word needs to be the most obscure thesaurus entry for what you’re actually trying to say.

In fact, when you’re writing for others especially, your sentences should only have one idea in them and you need to use the best word to accurately describe what you’re trying to explain.

Make sure you understand your own thought.

Make sure you’re being clear and straightforward.

“Simple” is not a bad word.

There seems to be a stigma against using simple words and writing simple sentences. I don’t know why people think that as university students they have to prove how much better they are than high school students, for example. You should always be getting smarter, yes, and you should be growing your vocabulary and your techniques as you learn. But if you can’t fit all 87 words into a sentence that makes sense, don’t!

Just break it up.

If people can’t understand what you’re trying to say, they won’t be seeing your fancy words, they will think you’re trying to cover something up. Either you don’t really know what you’re talking about, and you’re just as confused as they are, or else you think you’re too good to explain things to the likes of them.

I had a teacher once who knew their subject. They REALLY knew it. But they forgot that the students they were teaching weren’t at the same level. They went too quickly, used unfamiliar words and concepts and seemed unsympathetic to people who couldn’t keep up. It’s hard to understand new things sometimes. Experts need to remember that they didn’t always know everything.

I had another teacher who also knew their subject better than anyone would ever need to know anything. But they were so good building up the students. they gave the basics first and made sure everyone got those concepts before moving on and building in the next part. They did what teachers are supposed to do, teach.

I think we need to do that same when we’re writing or speaking. The point of communication is to communicate, but that’s a two-way street. Someone puts out an idea and someone takes in that idea. If person A meant to say “apple” but person B understood “orange,” there was a breakdown in communication. It could be person B’s fault, but if you are person A, make sure you tried to convey your idea is the best way possible.

One of my journalism professors this semester has two rules for us in our writing.

1. NEVER use the word “very.” He wasn’t very tired, he was exhausted.

2. Don’t use the word “and” to make your sentence longer and more complex. (I’m kind of bad at this one.)

I wish we could all remember that.

I wish “simple” didn’t have the negative connotation is being “stupid.” Simple is not stupid. Simple is effective. Simple is kind. Simple is beautiful.

When I started writing this post, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to talk about, but something else came up too.

Going back to “when life is complicated, we appreciate simple things,” we also appreciate steadfast things. (In case “steadfast” is a new word for you, it means, “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering” but I do touch on what I mean in the next sentence.)

 

We appreciate the things that don’t change, we appreciate the things we can trust, we appreciate the things that shine like bursts of light when we feel depressed, powerless, lost, alone, or in the dark.

When life is complicated, we can always lean on God, and while He’s not simple, He has taught us to accept a few simple truths.

1. He loves us. We don’t have to understand why, but we do have to understand that it’s unconditional.

2. He is always there for us. This one is hard for our minds to understand sometimes, but when we pray, we’re not talking to a wall or the ceiling, God is listening and He does answer. Believe that He hears you, don’t be afraid to cry out to Him.

3. He is unchanging. His love for us does not change, He does not abandon or forsake us, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

All of those concepts can be complicated when you try to unpack and understand how and why they are, but the truths there are gifts to us, and we can simply believe. There’s no test for us that asks, “Why does God love you?” or “When does God change?”

I’ve been really stressed out recently because I’ve had a lot of schoolwork to do. On Wednesdays, when my classes are over, my work isn’t, but I enjoy going to “Church on Wednesday” to meet with friends, to worship God and to get into His Word.

A few weeks ago one friend asked how my week went, and I said I was stressed and tired. He asked me two things, “Did anyone die?”

“No.”

“Is Jesus still on the throne?”

“Yes.”

“Then everything’s fine.”

He was right. In the midst of my stress, I could still look to God for strength, for peace, for comfort. He is everything.

Whatever you’re going through, remember that He is King of all.

Remember that He loves you.

Remember that He is unchanging.

Go to Him, cry to Him, lean on Him.

Anyway, that’s what has been on my heart and I wanted to share that with you, to hopefully encourage you to look at your life.

Where are you trying to complicate things?

Have you been forgetting that God loves you?

Well He does, more than I do.

God Bless,

-Rita