Remember yesterday's Sunday's Virtues message? I have been thinking about the power of thought a lot lately. How what we allow to dominate our minds and our thoughts; can actually affect what we do, how we see the people around us and how happy we are. Take a moment and think about how you have been feeling in your life lately.
Are you happy with how things have been?
Are you discouraged at how bad things have been?
Now I want you to think about what you have allowed to be the forefront of your thoughts. What has your attitude the last few weeks been? Do you see a correlation?
As with any couple; the husband and I have had our ups and downs. We've gone through multiple separations (not by our choice) due to the husband being in the military, and now again when he has to leave for months at a time for his internship. It really puts a strain on a marriage, and when you reunite you have to learn how to live in the same house again, blend your schedules and habits together all over again. Sometimes it works, and sometimes….it's quite a struggle.
A while ago I was really struggling. I was discouraged with our situation in life. The husband is in school, and with his class schedule as filled as it is, with the heavy load of classes, and hours upon hours upon hours of homework; he isn't left with any time for a regular job to provide an income. During the months he is in school, we live on his GI Bill and VA, and Pell Grants. We budget tightly, but sometimes it's discouraging.
Not to mention, with the lack of income, there is also a lack of time for us to be together. He has classes all day, and then a lot of homework most of the night. We both have insecurities and needs, and when the class load is heavy; none of those issues are met very well.
So as I was saying, I was feeling a bit down a while ago. I was discouraged because our marriage wasn't anything what I had imagined my marriage would be 9 years into it. I was discouraged because I haven't accomplished all the goals and ambitions I had set out for myself when I was younger. I was frustrated because Jade is behind in her development and speech and I was frustrated because I didn't know how to fix it. Our boys were fighting more often, and overall; I just felt alone. Discouraged and alone. Not a good combination.
To be blunt, I was miserable. I didn't like how our life had shaped out to be. Here we are, in our 30's with 3 kids, and we're back in the college scene, with a long journey ahead of us before we get to better our situation in life. We already did the college scene! I've been a college wife, and I didn't like it the first time (9 years ago) and I don't like it now. The old saying, "Poor starving college students" is fairly accurate, especially when you are married with kids. I hated our situation in life and I didn't know what to do, because I couldn't keep living it as it was. Yet I didn't know how to change it. I was angry at my Husband for not putting me as a higher priority, for not treating me with more kindness or respect. I thought he didn't think highly enough of me. I was ready to quit.
I wish I could tell you what happened, but frankly I don't know what it was. But something changed. All of a sudden things were different. I feel so truly blessed. We have had so many miracles come into our lives over the last few months. Miracles that allow us to pay our bills when we shouldn't have been able to. (Did you know that sometimes 2+2=5?) We've been blessed with amazing friends and neighbors. I have the sweetest husband who thinks about me often. I feel drawn to him and giddy when he holds my hand or cuddles next to me in bed as we fall asleep. He says the sweetest things to make me feel beautiful and loved.
Do you want to know the most amazing thing of all? Not one single thing in our lives or circumstances changed! We are still a "poor starving college family". The husband still has mountains and mountains of homework. The kids still fight, and I still struggle with getting things caught up, house clean, meals prepared, teaching Jade and helping her develop her speech.
In reality nothing changed; but yet, everything changed. I became quite curious about why things were so different all of a sudden, when nothing really had changed. I'm reminded of a story by Kimberly Evans Jones:
A wise man stood at the gate of an ancient city and greeted travelers as they arrived. One day, a traveler asked him:
"What kind of people live in this city?"
The wise man responded with a question of his own: "What kind of people lived in the city from whence you came?"
"Oh, they were very bad people, " answered the traveler, "cruel, deceitful, and devil-worshipping."
"You'll find the same kind of people in this city," sight the wise man.
Some time later, a second traveler came to the gate and asked about the people in the city. The wise man again asked his question:
"What kind of people lived in teh city from whence you came?"
"Oh, they were very good people, " answered the second traveler, "hard-working, generous, and God-fearing."
"You'll find the same kind of people in this city," smiled the wise man.
So what made the difference? The people in the city were the same people, who lived the same lives. The same with my life, nothing had changed. But what did change was my perspective!
I thought about it for a while and I realized something very powerful. During those times when I was so miserable; all I could think about was how miserable I was. I was always thinking about ways that my husband wasn't meeting my needs. I was thinking about how miserable I was that we wouldn't be able to pay our bills, or do anything fun. I was thinking about how much of a failure I must be because my daughter isn't as fast in her development as other kids her age. I was thinking how I was a failure being a mom and a wife, and a homemaker, because I couldn't keep the house in perfect condition.
And then I thought about what I had been thinking about the last while, that I've been so happy. I've been thinking about how much Jade has improved in just the last few months. How she is making leaps and bounds and always impresses her speech counselor when he checks on her. I've been thinking about how blessed our family truly has been, when although by all math standards, we shouldn't be able to get through month to month with our income, but somehow things work out and we meet our needs and even a few of our wants. I've been thinking about how grateful I am to have such amazing friends and family around us, both online and offline. I've been overwhelmed with gratitude for all of your support with our blog. It may be just a hobby for me; but it truly means a lot to know that I can help you, or bring about a smile, or entertain you.
I've been thinking about what a dear husband I have. I admire him for all the work he does. He works very hard at school and on his homework, to ensure that he gets the grades he needs, to improve his training so we can move onto a better career when this stage is over. I've been realizing how much he helps with the kids. I've noticed little comments he makes to let me know he's thinking of me. I've been thinking about those fun Text messages he sends me between classes, just to say hi, or to see how my day is going.
I've been thinking about how sweet he is to take time with me each day, and to set aside time to spend with the kids as well. He even brought me home a flower on Friday, just because. I realized just how much he thinks about making me happy, or doing nice things for me; did you know he's already planning Valentine's day?!?! Seriously, I discovered it yesterday! He's got a lot of it planned out already! What kind of man actually thinks about, and actively plans valentine's day, almost a month in advance?
My awesome husband!
The last little while, I've been so caught up in all these amazing blessings, I haven't thought about the negative; and it has truly made such a difference in our home. I'm happier and more in love with the husband. The kids; although they still fight..what normal kid doesn't, they are a greater joy, than a burden of constantly breaking up fights. I haven't worried about our bills this month, I just know if we have faith, the Lord will provide for us, because we are doing all we can and living to the best we can and trying our best to have faith.
I can tell you, it is has been such a wonderful change. I can't keep this blessing to myself. I have to share it with you, incase there is some way I can help you to be happier and have a better life. When you are feeling discouraged, and down, here is what you need to do:
1. Stop. Stop thinking the negative thoughts. Stop concentrating on all that isn't going right. Stop thinking of how you've been wronged. How YOU are the victim How YOU aren't getting what you want/need.
2. List your blessings. Think of all the things you have been blessed with. Did you get to eat this morning? Do you have a home? Do you have clothes to wear? Do you have a family who you love and loves you? It doesn't matter how small or great; just list as many as you can think of, and remember these blessings. If you need to, write them down and display them where you will always see and remember them.
3. Remember often. Continually think about those blessings you just listed. Do not return to the negative thoughts, of what you are lacking or missing, or what is going wrong.
4. Forget yourself and go to work. Sometimes when you are so caught up in yourself, your life and how miserable it is; the best thing you can do is to forget about yourself and go out and help someone else. Sometimes you will find others who are in worst circumstances than yourself, which will help bring to light how truly blessed you are. Other times, you may be able to build a new friendship, or you will feel that goodness in your heart that comes when you help others, and that will brighten your day. Either way, you will be busy helping someone else, that you no longer have time to worry about your own problems, thus allowing you to Stop the negative, and focus more on your blessings.
5. Share your blessings. If you have been blessed with a very special person in your life, let them know! If you are grateful for the blessings of having a job, or a home, or clothing, thanks our Heavenly Father for blessing you so abundantly. If someone serves you, show them gratitude. If you have been blessed with a special talent or hobby that could help someone else; use it to brighten their life. Let your spouse know how much you love them and appreciate them. This will not only improve your marriage, but it helps establish it in your mind how much you really do love your spouse and what a wonderful person they are.
Remember; the best way to have a full, prosperous life filled with love and happiness; no matter what your station in life; is to always remember that "as a Man Thinketh; so is he." Train your thoughts to focus on the love, joy, and happiness in your life; and as you think of it often, you will find that your life will soon follow in it's footprints.
What do you find helps you to think of the positive things in your life? Have you noticed a relation between your thoughts and how you view your day to day life?