We had a wonderful day with our children. We were sad that mom and dad couldn't come up, but we sat around the table and talked and laughed and well.....just felt close and content.
Unfortunately, I received several phone calls that were filled with sadness and tears. At first, most of them were from older friends, then as Thursday ran into Friday, the calls from younger families began.
Many of you are nervous about the future and how you will survive if there is a full depression. Many of you are worried about your adult children and how they will survive. Some of you are just disappointed that life has turned out different than you thought it would. And all of those thoughts give you an uneasy feeling when you try to laugh or try to relate to your family and friends. You feel like one person on the outside and a different melancholy one on the inside.
Would you like a solution? I have good news!
Anytime there is a shakeup in society - history will tell you that while some people are suffering others are succeeding. That includes all people in every segment of our society - or other societies.
What does that mean for you? It means that while some may lose everything, you can find a way to survive and....(this is the best part) you can be happy - no matter what happens to you!
I PROMISE - YOU CAN DO THIS !
How? Make a list.
What? Yep. Let's make a list. I promise if you do this first, everything you do after will be easier. Make a list of things you must have in order to be happy.
1. Pray for wisdom. Putting God first on your "I can survive" list will help you to feel confident with making out the rest of your list. Pray for God to lead you, guide you and keep you filled with his love.
2. Make a list of the things you CAN'T live without. I'm sure the first thing on your list of priorities will be your family. Even if they are part of the problem or they cause you stress, feel good about putting them on your list. In the next few weeks I'll help you find answers for your relationship problems. For now, just put them on the list.
3. In filling out the rest of your list, make sure the things you list are priority order. And even more important, make sure that you really can't live without those things. For example, you may list your beautiful home as something you desperately need. But is it? Let's say that you lost it and you were forced to move into a rented house or apartment. The stress of trying to make a $2,000 house payment is gone. You don't own your home so you aren't responsible for all the problems it has. All you have to do now is make that rent payment and love your family. As long as the people you love are around you and your home is still full of love - just minus the marble counter top and the three car garage......do you really have to have it? Can you exist without it and still feel loved?
Perhaps you feel you need that second car. For some of us that work 20-30 miles from home, a car is vital - but you might be able to survive with only one. When Ron and I were first married we only had one car. Anytime I needed to take the twins to the doctor, I would get up with Ron and take him to work. I ran my errands through the day and then picked him up at the end of the day. Sure it was tiring and sure it was hard to be stuck at home without a second car - but we survived.
4. Be very careful with this list. Don't let anything sneak on it that shouldn't be there. If you do, you will cause problems with your next few assignments.
Once your list is created, post it where you can see it. Walk by and read the list as often as you can. Think about how wonderful it is that you currently have the things on your list. Let it sink in how blessed you are. Check back tomorrow and we will take the next step to finding joy through these trying times.
"But Debbie, what if I lost what I really feel like I need?" Stay tuned....we are getting there.
If you are looking at your list with pain because something you need is already missing...like a child or a spouse or perhaps your job.....take heart. You can still do this. Send me an e-mail and I'll help you personally. Generally though, I can assure you that many people have suffered just like you and they have found a way to survive. And...they have survived with grace and a measure of joy. YOU can too! It may not seem like it. When your heart is heavy and you feel scared and alone - you may feel that having that loved one back or having a list with all your "needs" met is the only way to feel safe and have joy.
Paul and Silas had the right to sit in a wet damp jail and cry. No loved ones, no glory, those chains were causing pain and worst of all God seemed to have turned his back on their situation. They had the right to be angry, to be depressed and to cry. But, what happened? They Sang.
Acts 16:24-26 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.
Paul and Silas knew the value of making their lists. They had nothing and absolutely no reason to sing....but they did. And that shows "real" faith. Real faith doesn't fly out the door when troubles come. Real faith hangs on and finds a way to cope.
They knew that this world couldn't hurt them. If they died in that awful prison, they would simply go to heaven. Hum....that's not bad. And if they lived, they knew they were saved and that God loved them. Hum....also not bad. They knew that there were other people around them suffering as well. They understood that their captors could only hurt the physical man. Their captors could not touch their mind or their faith. If they could keep their mind centered on God and the fact that they were truly "Children of the King" - circumstances had no hold on them.
So....what does that mean for you and the fact that "we need a little Christmas". It's all a mind game. Either you are going to sit around and sulk because you don't have something you want or you are going to "sing". You may not have a tree this year....but if you can sing around a candle and hug someone you love - you are blessed. You may not have a gift to give anyone, but if you can be a greeter at the door of your church, you can spread the gift of Christmas to everyone you know. Christ is the reason for the season and we need him this year more than ever. We need his love and his spirit and that wonderful feeling of hope.
Life is not about what we have.....Life is about how we respond to the circumstances around us. The best life is one that is lived from the inside out - not the outside in.
"Sure Debbie, you can say that because you have your needs met. You aren't experiencing the pain I'm feeling."
Maybe not, but just like you I want to "KNOW" that I can survive. So...I am going to act as if I have nothing and see how it goes. And for the next month, you can read about our struggles right here. I'm going to prove my theory by living it!
I've let my family know that we are going to have a "Depression Style Christmas" this year. It will be fun and full of love and excitement. But...we will not go out and "buy" our fun. We will let it spring from within us.
I invite you to join me! We can do this together! No sad faces here....just a fellowship of people who have found true joy! And the wonderful thing is that when it's over, I will know that I have what it takes to survive. You and I will know that we have what it takes to survive whatever the future holds. Maybe it will be a little different because I'm not being pushed to it, but I'm sure I'll learn that I can adjust and I can sing - no matter how difficult the circumstances.
Want to hear the end of the story of Paul and Silas? Not only did God set them free, but he allowed them to preach to the jailer and the other prisoners. After they were saved and the jailer was baptized - the jailer took Paul and Silas to his house for supper and a nice warm bed. Wow!
Attitude is everything. How we perceive our circumstances and how we relate to others around us will determine how we live through this. So....make your list and begin by singing and thanking God for the things you do have.
God loves you,