Today’s Pondering~Keep trying…
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday of the year. This year, however, I was burdeneded by a feeling of utter defeat and all of the joy that I usually feel at Christmas time sort of fluttered away. Thinking back over the past twelve months, it was a constant struggle in one way or another, but after each challenge God saw fit to grant me another day and another and another… So, I pressed on. And this past week was as challenging as the rest. We tried to get everything together for our family dinner, but deliveries didn’t arrive, we had problems at checkout when we did go to the store in person, and then, on the one day when I had time to actually go out and take care of things, we had a snowstorm and were unable to leave the house. By the time we reached Christmas Eve, I didn’t even want to try anymore. I just wanted to crawl in a hole until next year.
In years past, we’ve had challenges but this year it somehow seemed like every door we tried to open slammed shut the moment we attempted to walk through. Work was hard to find due to my absolute reluctance to take an experimental drug for what amounts to a virulant strain of man-made flu. I never took the flu shot before and I’d be damned if I was going to be forced by my government to take a shot that contained ingredients I certainly wouldn’t want in my body. This left me with very few options and I was lucky to make enough to pay the rent each month. And when I finally did find something that paid well enough, my landlord raised my rent by $150 a month for no apparent reason. Two steps forward, three steps back. And when I had health concerns, I couldn’t even go to the doctor this year because they had these ridiculous mask mandates in place. I can’t wear a mask, so whatever care I needed had to be provided virtually. Thankfully, I found some great home remedies and made some changes to my routine that helped me fight off the big stuff.
I’ve also faced a few challenges with my publishing business and the platform I use to create our books. I’ve been with this particular provider for eight years, but for some reason, this year they decided to be extremely difficult and cause multiple delays in production. And when you try to call customer service, it’s all but non-existent. If you do happen to get someone on the phone, they give you ridiculous instructions that bring about no resolution. So, that’s an issue I need to tackle this coming year.
In spite of all of this, I’m still hopeful that I can do great things in the new year. Daunting as it sometimes feels, it still doesn’t seem impossible that I will be able to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. Difficult, yes. Impossible, not at all. I need only remember where I’ve been to feel hopeful that I can reach the destination I’m seeking. For example, years ago I wouldn’t have even considered trying to get a degree due to a lack of finances and having defaulted on student loans when I was in a deep depression. But a few years after I thought I’d screwed everything up, I found a program that allowed me to clean up my loan issues and I was able to return to school. Now, twenty-three years laters, I’ve completed my Bachelor’s in Management & Human Development and two Master’s degrees (one in Human Services, one in Religion) as well as a Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counseling.
There was also a time when I put away all of my half-written manuscripts and decided that I would never be a writer. It wasn’t practical and I needed to be able to pay the bills. But thirteen or so years after making that decision, I pulled those manuscripts out of the bottom drawer, blew the dust off of them, and submitted the first of twenty-six books that I’ve published; ten in my mystery series, three children’s books, and several ministry resources.
While I wouldn’t always encourage someone to go back to something that they had already decided wasn’t going to work, I’m so glad that I’ve been willing to go back and reconsider some things when my circumstances have changed, as they often have. If I’d just given up on every dream I’ve had, I would have missed out on several of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. And I would never have had the opportunity to face the challenges that I sometimes complain about in my exasperation with myself. I would have cheated myself out of opportunities to learn and grow and become the person God wants me to be. Yes, you heard that right. Those challenges I complain about are actually welcomed. Maybe not in the moment, but in retrospect, I can see the value in the things that cause me stress. I can see where those challenges and struggles have given me the momentum I needed to take a new approach or change up a strategy. And though I may feel like pulling my hair out when I’m dealing with it, I always feel better about things when I ‘m finally on the other side of whatever it is when I take the time to deal with that problem rather than take a position of helplessness and let the problem run right over me. I’d rather fight than act like I have no opposition.
So, yes, it was a crappy week. And yes, I didn’t really feel like I experienced my best Christmas this year. But, when I look back at this time later on, I’ll note that just a few weeks ago, I stopped taking the only medications that I was taking (two OTC meds; for allergies and acid reflux), I stopped drinking coffee, I stopped drinking soda, and I started feeling better finally. After nearly twenty-five years on one stomach medication or another, I stopped taking the drug and I have less pain throughout my body and am managing my reflux naturally. And with every day, it’s getting easier. When I look back at this time, I’ll also note that I was finishing up a very busy season of publishing where I had released about nine titles and was fighting various fights to get others completed. I’ll remember that this was the time when my daughter and I spent many nights watching K-Dramas together and bonding over our favorite anime series. I’ll remember that this was the time in my life when I tried and kept trying and even though I didn’t feel like it at times, I did what I needed to do.
The understatement of the year would be to say that life isn’t always easy. We all know this. But today, Christmas Day, I have to think twice about all of the times I’ve been irritated by my shortcomings or frustrated when I worked hard on something only to have it fail. God isn’t known for creating weakness in us. He’s known for His immeasurable strength and His great blessings. He’s known for being able to heal even the most broken of us. He’s know for His willingness to teach us again. And for the sacrifices He has made to ensure that He is the one we run to when we are running away from whatever it is that hurts us. He wants us to try and to do our best whenever possible. He wants us to understand that things aren’t always going to work the first time around. Even God made several covenants with His creation to try and bring us around to where we needed to be. But in spite of the fact that we are constantly proving that we do not know how to do this life stuff right, He still tries to help us. He still loves us through whatever. He still suffers all of our mistreatment of Him as our loving Father. Just as He suffered our mistreatment of His wonderful Son, Jesus.
I’m thankful for all of it. For God’s great love and healing and for His loving sacrifice of the Son whose life and teaching we celebrate today. I’m thankful, and I’ll keep trying. I hope you will, too. God bless you and Merry Christmas!
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you love short reads? Kindle Vella may be just what you need! Check out these three great stories by Rebecca Benston (aka R.J. Dodds). Be sure to follow and like each chapter for regular updates when new chapters are added.
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My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.
If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com and http://www.ronashively.wordpress.com and http://www.highergroundforlife.wordpress.com and http://www.leadingthefollower.wordpress.com. And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com.
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