What Are You Looking For?
Point to Ponder:
What people or things do you take for granted?
For Christmas, we gave Malaine, our five year old daughter, her first pet, or I should say her first “practice pet”. Rather than get the puppy she had been asking for, we opted for the easier and other pet she wanted: a Bearded Dragon. I said “No” to a dog and “ Yes” to the bearded dragon because, as expected, I became the primary caretaker of the lizard. Thankfully, she’s a pretty easy pet and I’ve become quite fond of her, but ultimately all pets poop and frankly, that is exactly why pets aren’t high on my priority list. I was in the diaper/poop clean up season for five consecutive years and I’m over it. Needless to say, I’m back in that season again—feeding, cleaning poop, etc. As for as the feeding goes, I’ve noticed something interesting when feeding Merida (the Bearded Dragon), live crickets. When I open the top of her terrarium and drop anywhere from 5-10 crickets inside, she continues to stare at the container full of live crickets, which sits outside of her terrarium. She is so preoccupied with the crickets on the outside that she doesn’t see any of the crickets hopping next to her that are close enough to eat. As I’ve watched this time and time again, pointing to the crickets and moving her around so she can see and devour them, it has occurred to me that often times, I am Merida. It goes like this: I have a life full of blessings, yet I want more. Or, one little thing goes awry or a normal life stressor occurs, and rather than focus on all of the blessings I have, I get tunnel vision and focus on the stressor. In other words, I can’t see the forest for the trees. As Merida’s provider, I get super annoyed and frustrated with her. In my head I’m thinking, “Why are you so focused on what’s outside of the terrarium (the crickets inside the cricket container) and not the 10 crickets next to you and ready to eat?!” I can imagine that God, my Provider, rolls his eyes at me too and says something like, “Neissa, my child, are you kidding me?!? I have given you everything you need and way more, yet you aren’t thankful.” Or, “I’m trying to bless you, but your eyes are closed. Your lack of trust and vision is blocking My blessings for you!”
The most blatant Merida moment that sticks out to me was when Russell and I were experiencing significant marital strife. It mostly revolved around his job, money and another move. Seriously, for months, every time he said something, the word “dumb@#%” (and much worse) went through my head and was mumbled under my breath (and that’s putting it nicely). For roughly four months, I couldn’t be in the same room as him. He would walk in and I would walk out. I couldn’t look at him. For ten months prior to that, while I could be in the same room as him, the thoughts I had about him were unpleasant at best. I was annoyed, frustrated, furious and to be honest, multiple times I contemplated what divorce would be like. I know most couples experience times like this, but to not like my husband or want to be around him for many consecutive months was a scary and terrible feeling. I could acknowledge the great man and husband he was, but I didn’t like him. I was so focused on the stress and turmoil in our life that I couldn’t see any of the blessings, as it related to him. I even considered staying in San Diego with Durant and Malaine while he moved to Tulsa, but we both knew that would be the worst thing for our marriage and our family.
I’m not at all trying to air out our dirty marriage laundry, rather I’m just sharing what I believe is a regularly occurring human experience: when life gets hard it becomes easy to focus on your frustrations. The great thing is we can choose what we focus on and if made aware of, we can actually catch the negative, disparaging or ungrateful thoughts, and replace them with a positive mindset that focuses on our blessings. I know we all know this, but I think it’s good to be reminded that we get what we look for in life. This is true of marriage, any relationship, job, experience or situation. This is not to say that some relationships and situations aren’t toxic and need to be severed, but it is true that many times, we’re the ones who need to change our focus and vision.
Since moving to Tusla, Russell and I have worked through our issues. I even like him now…a lot actually! Upon having many uncomfortable and hard conversations, one of the things he shared was the many months he was frustrated with me, which led him to reading marriage books and articles. When it came to changing and preserving a marriage/relationship, the one consistent piece of information was: if you want to change a relationship, it starts with what you have control over: YOU!! Our minds are powerful and have a tremendous influence on what we say and do. I am glad Merida reminded me not to fall into the trap of peering through the glass and focusing on things I don’t have rather than fixing my eyes on what is close to me and realizing all of the many blessings I do have.
Acknowledge one person who you have taken for granted and let them know you are thankful for them for either who they are or what they do.