The progress of the past year has actually been more in the way of building on things that have already been in motion. While it doesn't seem that much has changed - after all, life is progressing along very much the same today as it was a year ago - I can't say that I think about or feel the way that I did about life as I did one, two, or five years ago. In fact, as I ponder it, I notice that my paradigm has shifted quite a bit in the last 4 years. I suppose this is natural. My job changed and I finally broke into publication with my writing in 2010 - 2011, and while these things are "the norm" in my life right now, I see how incorporating those changes into my life has changed my view of life and the world. My basic morals haven't changed. That's not something that's likely to change. But the way you see the world around you and apply those morals can change, and I'm starting to see the evidence that it's happened. When you walk in faith long enough, you delve deeper into things, and that's certainly what's happened to me.
So how have I changed? For one, I'm seeing a whole new application of the concept of "reaping and sowing," as described in Galatians 6:7. You all know that this is one thing that my grandfather was a big believer in, and I took it to heart. But this verse applies to more than just relationships with other people and how you treat them - it also applies to progress and purpose in life. In fact, if you shift two more verses you'll read that "in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9) After several years of hard work to re-establish myself professionally in my current workplace and to get my writing established, I see the value of patience in all that we do. If life really is a series of ups and downs, reaping and sowing, then that has big implications for all of life. If we choose to only allow ourselves to be happy on the mountaintop, when we're reaping the rewards of our labors, then we're guaranteed to be miserable (or at least, withholding our own happiness) at least 50% of our life. Folks, that just isn't acceptable to me. That's not going to do it. Sure, there are some people that enjoy being miserable and whining and complaining to get attention, but that's not the way I choose.
I know from experience that there are blessings in every day because I've been through the major life changes when I looked back and realized that there were little blessings that I took for granted, and I was sorry for it. An example: before my writing was published, I used to do counted cross stitching and wrote short stories. Much to my surprise, I find that I have very little time for that now, between promoting my published works and creating new ones. I love my writing and pray daily that it will continue to grow and reach more people - in fact, I'm prayerfully striving to make a break into science fiction with Splinter this fall - but there are some days when I miss having the time to cross stitch, or to goof off on Writing.com with short story contests. I didn't realize how much time these things filled in my life until my writing grew to the point where I had to make decisions about what stayed and what went. I still stitch occasionally, but large projects are out now. And as for short stories, they take me longer to write, prepare, and complete than they once did. And ditto for the work move. I was glad to make it and still believe it was the best, but I didn't realize the little things I took for granted, like talking to a couple of my friends when things got slow, the great walking paths on the State House grounds, a covered parking spot or those outstanding subs for a great price on Tuesdays and Fridays. Yes, I've gained a lot through both changes. I wouldn't undo either of them or the world because I gained a lot more than I lost. But I did learn to not despise the small things, and to appreciate the small blessings that go with each day as well as the big things we work so hard to cultivate and grow in our lives.
Some people say this means to "enjoy the journey on the way to where you go," but I think there's a deeper meaning than that. A devotion I read recently said, "God doesn't want you to be happy. He wants you to do what's right." That really hit me and helped me to get a grasp on my own paradigm shift. I used to think that the point was about being happy, and I actually worried for a little while, wondering if I'd ever be happy like I was before. I see now that I won't, because happy is a side effect. The purpose of life is not to serve our feelings, but to do what we're supposed to be doing and work hard to do what's right for our purpose in life. If you are faithful in well doing and obedient to the spirit, there's a contentment to your life that nothing - situations, circumstances, or other people and their attitudes (because that really reflects on them more than anything else, but that's a pondering for another entry) - can affect. You can rest in knowing that you're doing all you can, and that allows you to enjoy the blessings of every day, large or small. And contentment is better than happiness. It's more stable, because you can still see the blessing in what you have even if a thousand aggravations are bleeding out of them. It's built on a firmer foundation that gives you the patience to hold out for the "bigger picture" even if you don't understand what the point is (as is often the case). It's built on a trust between you and the Lord and nobody else can put their hands on it. And that can give you the courage to do what's right, even in the face of ridicule, opposition, or doubt. Happiness is transient and comes and goes with circumstances. Contentment is faith in action.
No, the earth hasn't moved in the last year. Things look much the same today as they do every other day. But I know they aren't. I see how the work at the everyday levels is building to something new and better. I might not know what yet, but when it is revealed then I'll reap a reward in due season, and be glad I didn't lose heart.
That's all today. I hope you have a great week.