What goes up must come down! I learned this the hard way by crashing badly. This left me extremely frustrated as I felt that I was never allowed to experience joy or happiness. Many times Eric would warm me, saying, “Be careful! You are getting too high now”. He always knew that he would be the one suffering the next moment when I came crashing down from my high. Often I would be very annoyed by his comment, thinking that I wasn't allowed to be happy or excited EVER! This really bothered me and I asked God to help me with this. I have now learned to love the moments of perfect balance in my life. They are rare and they don't last for more than a few hours at a time and on a rare occasion I can enjoy it for a whole day, but I would have to be totally alone for that to happen. Yes, I know, this is one of those times when you probably think I am very strange indeed! I have learned though, even in the times of perfect balance, to watch that it doesn't cause me do spiral down. I have to channel myself into something positive during the contentment in order to keep some form of balance. With God's help and mercy, ha ha, I have learned to "watch" myself and if I see myself getting over excited about something, I force myself to think about something else. This stops me from getting too high and come crashing down.
Lingering in Lows
Avoiding lows is just as important. I can spend time meditating on sad things or even imagine an entire sad scenario and end up crying about something that isn't even real! So I avoid that sort of silliness. If I notice my mind wondering off down an unnecessary path I quickly pull it back by getting busy with something or intentionally thinking of something else. Often hurt can take me to a low place and I really struggle with getting myself back on track when I am hurting. This is the one thing that can cause me to go really low and I am easily hurt by the people I love - I am getting better at this though!
Recently I have observed something very interesting! Many times when I lose my contentment or balance it is because I have allowed a bad attitude of some sort to creep in. At first it is very subtle and goes unnoticed but since I have become aware of this, I can quickly get back on track. It’s so frustrating to see how easily I can lose my peace and joy! With some effort I know I will get to a beautiful place of enjoying peace, contentment and joy as a norm and not only as the exception.
Let me give you some examples of what I mean. At the moment we are doing a couples evening based on the book The Love Dare at our Church. One of the evenings involved a discussion on being irritable. I was so uncomfortable when I realised that each and every word spoken was describing me. I heard how a loving wife is not sensitive or cranky but exercises self-control and how love is not irritable. When you are irritable, the heart of the problem is primarily a problem of the heart.
Out of the abundance of the hearth the mouth speaks.
Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule.
Well this totally caught me out and my selfishness was completely exposed as I often get irritable, cranky and sensitive with Eric. I felt so overwhelmed with my own selfishness and asked God to forgive me and help me not be that way. Realising this helped me also realise that usually it is selfishness that causes me to lose my peace or contentment which can send me on a downward spiral. I can usually trace the cause of my downward spiral back to becoming irritable or to insecurity or a fear. Seeing this has greatly helped me hold onto my contentment for longer. Now when I start to feel myself slipping I try and trace all the way back to the cause. I could be sitting in the sunshine feeling nice and peaceful just pondering life, when slowly my mind might wonder and end up thinking about someone that has been annoying me lately. Gradually my thoughts turn to this person and the things that annoy me and begin to feel the negative, annoying feelings again. Before you know it I have either had an imaginary conversation with this person or gone off on some sort of journey in my mind and my contentment is gone. I can get up from my seat in the sunshine and get on with my day but the contentment is gone. Later on that day of perhaps even the next day I feel a bit down all because I allowed myself to get annoyed FOR NO REASON AT ALL! How absolutely ridiculous is this? Understanding how this all works has helped me either quickly catch this sort of thing before it robs me or if I have not caught it in time, I can quickly trace my steps back to the root cause of downward spiral. To get back on track I repent for thinking those thoughts about someone or I pray for that person. The Bible is crystal clear about what we should do when faced with difficult people.
"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
I will stop here but chapter 10 does continue, for full details about this book, Hope's Journey, please go here.