Life is Hard…But I Want Easy

I was thinking about this on the way in to work the other morning. I brought my gym bag to work again…for the bazillionath time, I might add, but the odds of my actually working out are slim to none, if we’re judging by my workout schedule of late. What has my workout schedule been of late, you ask? Well…pretty nonexistent.

So as I was walking in to the building I was thinking about going to the gym sometime during the day and I felt that little pang of excitement you sometimes get at the prospect of something new…do you know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I had that little burst of excitement and then almost in the exact same instant I felt fear and anxiety and said to myself, “it’s going to be really hard to do a workout today.”

Hard. It’s a pretty small word – but it’s so powerful, isn’t it? As soon as the thought crossed my mind I lost all sense of excitement about working out. Why do we do that, I wonder? And why do we let our minds psych us out so easily? And is it just me?

I look at other people and I wish I could be as motivated or as determined as them. We watched the movie “Moana” the other night (for the fifth or so time), and I found myself wondering what it would be like to jump on a little canoe sailboat thing and just take off. Ok, well not that necessarily, because I don’t know how to sail, I get motion sick, and I have a slight fear of open water…but what about just learning a new skill or hobby? Or taking a new assignment at work doing something I’m not familiar with? Or something much easier, like just getting back into the routine of going to the gym?

All my life I’ve taken the easy route…every time I’ve been faced with something potentially hard I quit. I had the opportunity in college to study abroad in Germany – I put in the application and was getting ready to go, but at the last minute some of the requirements changed and the cost went up. Instead of knuckling down and figuring things out, I backed out and never studied abroad.

I’ve been good at a lot of things – but I never had the desire to study just one thing hard enough to be great at it. I could have graduated college with honors, but it was too hard to study every night and so I simply just graduated. I have a talent for learning foreign languages but I didn’t want to put in the maximum effort required to actually strive towards fluency in those languages. I love to write – I adore it, really – and I think I’m pretty good at it…but because it’s “too hard” to make time to write and I’d rather sleep than stay up late or wake up early, I just tend to whine about not having time to write.

The thing is – life got pretty hard for my husband and me shortly after we got married…and honestly, it hasn’t really stopped. Every time I think we might be pulling ourselves out of a stressful situation, something else seems to hit us and knock us back down. We’ve dealt with it – but I wouldn’t say successfully. We manage. We survive, but we don’t thrive. And despite us having talked about this multiple times over the past few years, I don’t know what it would take for us to thrive. Life is hard…but I want it to be easy. I want to not have anything to worry about. I want to not have to work so hard. To quote Bing Crosy in Holiday Inn…”I want to be lazy”.

I know that’s not the answer. Lazy is boring when you do it for too long. The trouble is, I don’t know what the answer is. I’ve been praying about it – praying for direction, praying for guidance, praying for motivation…and once I thought about it for a bit, I realized that’s the best thing I can be doing. And I realized I can’t be the only person who struggles with this. So will you join me? Will you get down on your knees before God and pray for the desire to accept the hard? To not wish away life while you’re dreaming of easy?

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NCV)

Let’s (not) Compare

So the other day my husband and I were sitting on the couch and out of the blue my husband turns to me and says, “do you ever think that Facebook is just a place where people…” he started to trail off and so I helpfully inserted, “post only the good things about their lives and never any bad?” To which he responded very emphatically, “YES”.

Um…only all the time.

This isn’t to call anyone out, or to knock Facebook. Social media can be and usually is a good thing – you can catch up with people from your past you’d otherwise never see or talk to, you can get accurate information on a nearby restaurant recommendation, you can share pictures and videos with friends and family…heck, one of my friends used Facebook Live to stream a birthday party for her son! Which was great, considering she lives like twelve states away. There are lots of good applications. But my husband hit on one of the more negative sides of social media: jealousy. How easy is it to check out your old high school rival’s facebook page and compare yourself to everything you see? How many times have you scrolled through your newsfeed, picking out all the things you wish you were doing, or that baby you wish was growing inside your belly, or that wedding you wish you were planning, or that house you wish you could afford? How many times does it make you feel like your life doesn’t compare?

I do it. All the time.

To be honest – there was one point where I had to take a social media hiatus because I was working myself into a fit every time I got online. But as my husband puts it, “you are comparing someone else’s highlights reel to your blooper reel.” Isn’t that the truth? (FYI: my husband is wicked smart.)

What does God tell us about jealousy?

James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (ESV)

Adding to that, Proverbs 14:30 tells us that, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (ESV)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in the midst of “disorder and every vile practice”, and I certainly don’t want to participate in anything that “makes bones rot”! Unfortunately, we know that jealous, envy, etc are bi-products of our sinful human nature. Fortunately, God loves us and forgives us when we ask for it, and if we live our lives for Him, He will helps us with these struggles.

When I start to feel jealousy, or when I begin to compare my life to other people’s, I fall back on the words of David in Psalms 139:

“You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me  were written in your book before I was one day old.” Psalm 139:13-16 (NCV)

God made me to be exactly who He wants me to be. He planned my days and He knows what I am going to do, when I am going to do it, and what I’m going to have. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, in His image. How could I compare myself then to anyone else?

I’m not saying it’s easy – some days are much harder than others. But it also helps me to think about all the blessings I have in my life – God has blessed me with a loving husband, a beautiful stepson, a house, a job, a car, a family. God crafted me to be exactly who He wants and needs me to be – and I can rest in the promises of His love.

And to God – we are all his highlights.

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On Blogging, Part One.

I had somewhat of an “a-ha” moment recently, where I realized that I am never going to make it big as a blogger. That may seem pretty obvious to those of you who read my blog more than once, considering weeks will pass between posts and my recipes have gotten more and more sporadic, but I never really sat down to think this whole “being a blogger” thing through until just recently.

I didn’t start this blog with the intention of becoming instantly famous so that I could quit my 9-5 office job and start working at home…although I’m pretty sure everyone who starts a blog secretly hopes, at least at one point, that will happen to them. Staying in my sweatpants all day and calling it work? Yes, please! No, I started this blog because I love to write, and blogging is an easy – and immediate – way to broadcast your writing to the world. I’ve dabbled in short stories, I’ve taken a couple online classes, I’ve even started (but never finished) several novels; but anyone who has ever aspired to be a writer or an author has I’m sure heard the same line – that unless you have a platform nowadays, publishers won’t even look at you. My first thought was, “what the heck is a platform?” So I did a little research and figured it out, and then I started a blog.

I’ll be honest. I get frustrated (and I’ll be the first to admit it – I get jealous) when I see yet another blogger announce that they are writing – or publishing – a book. What makes it especially frustrating is when the writing – and I somewhat apologize for this next statement – isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, there are great blogs out there; blogs that are funny and witty and even somewhat addicting to read – but I’m somewhat of a grammar nazi, so when I see yet another blogger publishing a book it makes me wonder, “would this person get published if they didn’t have a blog? if they weren’t a well known internet persona?” Most likely that answer would be no.

But the thing about blogging – and writing – is that it takes discipline. A lot of discipline. And I’ve written before about how I have a serious lack of discipline in my life. But those bloggers I mentioned who get their books published? They do have discipline. They put in the work and the hours required to become the popular figure they are, and it pays off for them. I simply don’t put in the time. I think about writing all the time, but very rarely do I ever act on any of my thoughts. I used to write on a daily basis – I would wake up around 0500 and write for a good 30-45 minutes before I had to get ready for work; in the evenings I would work on recipes and write blog posts; but then my work scheduled changed; I moved to a different building with a longer commute; I got married; we’ve been dealing with some stressful circumstances; and slowly my writing and blogging started to peter out. I’m just making excuses, I know. If I wanted it that badly, I’d find the discipline and sit down and do it. The heart of the issue really comes down to one question:

How bad do I want it?

I watched an interview with Olympic speed skater J.R. Celski where he discusses a time in his life where he was ready to quit skating for good. During a short hiatus he decided to make a documentary about the rapper Macklemore, who made a statement that hit me pretty hard and stuck with  me, enough that here I am writing about it four months later. He said, “to be great at something you have to have done it for more than 10,000 hours.” (Which inspired Macklemore’s song, appropriately named 10,000 hours). He went on to say how you need to sacrifice everything, train every single day, you need to give up everything in order to be the best at your craft. So let’s say you train for 8 hours every single day, seven days a week – that’s 1,250 days. Break that down even further, that’s 3.4 years. If you tweak that a bit and take weekends off, working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – that’s 4.8 years. That’s a lot. That’s more than I can fathom, really. And Celski? Celski turned around and jumped right back into speed skating. He wanted it. But as motivating as I found that interview, I haven’t found the discipline to sacrifice anything, let along everything, to get back into writing. And why not? Why is it so hard for me to set aside one hour a day to write? I have the time, but most days I end up wasting it on the internet (reading the blogs of people who do make time to do what they love) or loafing around on the couch or reading a book (although I love to read even more than I love to write, so I don’t count that as a waste). There is no excuse for why I don’t use some of that time to do more of what I love – writing.

I need to focus less on being a “food blogger” and focus more on just being an “online writer”. I’ve written about direction before; it’s something I struggle with a lot. I love cooking and creating recipes, but it’s not my main focus. (Plus, it’s expensive! We’re on quite the budget right now, so we’ve been eating a lot of the same, inexpensive meals over and over again.) I love writing, but even that isn’t my focus most of the time. What I want is to be intentional. To write about things that mean something to me; things that I believe in, things that I care about. To write for God, and not for an imaginary online audience. I don’t want to blog, I want to write. So that’s what I think I’m going to do. I’m going to write when God puts something on my heart, and see where it goes. And if it goes nowhere? That’s OK, I’m still going to write.

Writing is what I love.