I’m sure you have noticed my blog posts are rare these days, with growing twin babies and adjustments in our family, seldom are the moments to focus on writing!
But I’m on a flight alone right now, headed to speak in Minneapolis, and just answered a letter written via my website by a young mother who is also going into the military soon. She asked about how I balance stress, deal with criticism, and stay positive. Thought perhaps my thoughts shared with her would encourage you as well, so here goes (and please excuse formatting issues with run-on paragraphs)…
Dear Shari (not her name)
Your questions are so valid, and very real for most of us. BTW, congrats on entering the military, what a noble calling and one I’m sure you will find adventurous and a challenge yet rewarding too. Even more than this congrats on the birth of your precious baby, wow, your most noble calling to date. I can only imagine how little sleep you are getting which doesn’t help on the issues of balance and stress you mention either!
Coping with stress and pressures will always be a challenge. Sometimes we get more breathing room but it comes in moments vs. days or long seasons, from what I’ve experienced. Nowadays I try to grab these precious moments of alone time, be it out on a morning jog, or even just moments of quiet before the rest of my household wakes up. Like this morning, I looked at my Bible on my iPhone for just a few moments, trying to grab a little Word before the babies got done watching their video and were fussy. Not my preferred time with the Lord but essential and helpful. Kind of like I shared at the event where you heard me speak, you eat nuggets of food when you aren’t hungry but have the chance, knowing you’ll need the nourishment later.
Another perspective that helps is recognizing that every part of life is seasonal, babies grow up so fast, learning seasons at work turn into seasons of being a veteran, people come and go, and every single season comes laden with special gifts, many are surprise gifts, often those we wouldn’t even buy for ourself yet those we need to have. So I try to receive the season and ask God to open my eyes to see things how He sees them and has ordained them for me, and I ask Him to give me a grateful heart for all He is bringing. This helps me feel rich vs. cheated, and helps me stay on the receiving end with gratitude vs. on the demanding end where nothing is ever quite enough.
Sometimes I do well at this, other times I miss the mark big-time, get frustrated, impatient, and discouraged. Many many years as a single were wrought with tears of anguish, disappointments, etc. But looking back I see so many special gifts I was being given even then. I think tenacity and hope are like muscle groups, the more we use them and choose them, the stronger they become and the more stable we are in enduring and hoping no matter what. I desire to be a cheerful, hope-filled, joyful woman. I actually practice smiling, because when we smile it brightens others’ faces and changes how we feel ourselves. I wrote a blog awhile back on the effect of practicing smiling, you may enjoy it.
In regards to not letting what others say bother us, that is a tough one and is often simply a choice to let them roll off our back and move on quickly, not dwelling on what others say or do, especially when they’re not in our close inner circle of trusted advisors, and counselors. It’s easy to obsess on the negatives, but fretting is a dead-end cycle and there is always hope anyway, and help, and supernatural interventions that we get to experience when we stay strong in faith and believe.
These are a few of my strategies in a nutshell. Thanks again for writing and keep remembering that you are strong and set apart, prepared ahead of time for ALL the Lord has brought you TO and will bring you THROUGH!
I’m cheering you on…