How to Love the Life You Live

person standing on top of a mountain

“Live the life you love.”

We’ve all seen that quippy little quote floating around, on inspirational internet images, or wall decor at the coffee shop. I don’t know about you, but as a newlywed and a first-time mommy, I sort of snort internally when I read it. (If this is one of your favorite motivational nuggets that pushes you to keep going when you’re tempted to give up on a dream–I’m probably gonna step on your toes, here. 🙂 Please know, I’m all for encouragement, so if that mantra is encouraging to you, by all means, don’t let me ruin that for you.)

But for me, it just doesn’t work. I guess the biggest reason is that it seems to say, “Go after what YOU want, because that’s the most important thing. Live for what pleases you and makes you happy.” If you don’t read it that way, that’s okay. But that’s pretty much how it reads for me, and I’ve come to the understanding that the best way to make myself UNhappy…is to chase my own happiness.

So. I choose to flip that saying around and look at it differently. I choose to read instead, “Love the Life You Live.” In other words, be content! Be joyful in your “season of life,” whatever that may be. I’m pretty sure that we actually have to relearn this lesson in every new season of life that we enter. At least, I do. I had to learn it as a single person. I had to learn it in different jobs that I worked. And, I am learning it now, again, in a whole new dimension as a wife and mother.

This is my point: What if instead of telling ourselves we should be chasing down a life we can love…what about just deciding to love the life we are living? Right here, right now? The one that may seem to be too busy, or not-what-we-had-planned, or unexciting, or even painful?

Question: How do you do that? How do people actually love the life they have when there’s sickness, or loneliness, or tragedy, or disappointment? I’ve been blessed to have some very good examples in my life of people who have chosen to embrace joy, to refuse to let it go, in the face of incredible falling-apart-ness. I am truly challenged every time I think of these people while I’m the midst of a little ol’ pity party.

One of them is a friend I’ll call Sarah. She has personally suffered what could easily be called tragedy, not once, not twice, but three times…and those are just the instances I know about. I’m talking about illness, pain, and criminal wrongdoing touching all the most important people in her life. I’m talking about broken necks and child molestation and death. Yet she is one of the sweetest, most joyfilled people I know, and she trusts God implicitly. She clings to Him. She doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself because of what has come into her life, even though, by all human standards, she’d have every right to. Nor does she play the martyr, and try to let everyone know what a tough time she’s had. No, she has chosen to hold onto joy, and to love the life she is living, despite it’s pain. I stand in awe of her. But I know her joyfulness didn’t just happen. It is real in her life because of specific and deliberate decisions that she has made. Here are several choices that I see in Sarah’s life, and in the lives of others who exhibit this kind of loving the life that they are living.

1. Be intentionally grateful

Thankfulness can be a lifeline against drowning in despair. Seriously…have you ever had a horrible, horrible day, and just begun saying “thank you” for any and every little thing that you can think of? I’ve tried it. The results are pretty amazing. And immediate. You can begin to see that there are still so many “good and perfect” gifts to appreciate. My husband recently told me, very gently and wisely, that the reason I often struggle is because I spend time focusing on the things I don’t have, instead of what I do have. He was right. Is it easy to be grateful when you feel like nothing is right in your world? No. But it is worthwhile.

2. Be in the moment

Worrying about the future? Aching over the past? Honestly, all we do is make ourselves miserable. I heard a statistic that said only eight percent of the things we worry about could actually even happen. Wow. (That’s actually a bit comforting, honestly!) And the past? We can change zero about that. Does that mean the thought of those things don’t hurt or that they don’t have the capacity to make us anxious? No. But the bottom line is that there is enough to focus on here and now. There are people in your life, today, that need you. So, take a deep breath, and just “do the next thing.” {Great opportunity, here, to implement number one…find something to be grateful for in that “next thing.”}

3. Be close to God

Ultimately, He is what gives meaning and joy to life. All the other joys are because of Him, and from Him. Being close to God is a choice to be made, more than a thing to do, though. Yes, there are things that we can do to be close to Him, such as reading the Bible. But unless we first decide that we want to be close to Him, there isn’t much point in cracking open those pages. {It would kind of be like taking your spouse to dinner, but not really wanting to talk with them, or listen to them…they will know it, and your relationship isn’t going to progress forward.}

 

Now we KNOW all this…but we have to choose to act on it. It’s a decision of the will , not the feelings. So if you’re struggling to love the life you’re living, you have to decide…do you really want to, and are you willing to do what it takes? I think that if we really want to love the life we’re living, in all its messiness and imperfection and unexpectedness, then we can. And, the neat thing about choosing to love it? We’ll find we really are living the life we love, too.

 

::clears throat:: "This post may contain affiliate links! {Surprise, surprise.} Just so you know, buying through a link on the blog could help me earn some money...at no cost to you." There! All is disclosed. ::ducks out::

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