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About a month ago, I picked up a horrible throat infection that had me feverish and stuck in bed for most of a week. It took another week and a bit after that for a full recovery. Needless to say, my family and I were planning a very quiet, restful Easter school holiday break. I was looking forward to just taking it easy and doing some work here and there around the house – like attacking the jungle that our front garden had become.

So it caught me by surprise when I found myself feeling a little envious as I read or heard about friends going away, going on camping trips, etc. It was surprising because once I stopped and thought about it, I confirmed I really didn’t want to go on a camping trip or go away these holidays – it’s just that everyone else seemed to be doing so and having lots of fun while they were at it.

At the same time, following Easter, I somehow dropped into a super-low mood that lasted for most of the week. Once upon a time any low mood, for me, used to only last the day at most. Even if I went to bed glum, next morning I’d be right as rain. In fact, it was partly this change last year – this deviation from ‘my normal’ – that provoked me to seek some help with my mental health.

This recent low mood persisted, despite my best efforts to lift myself out of it and ‘cheer up’. It really wasn’t a fun week at all.

Near the end of that week, a new plan on the Mindfulness app I use on my phone caught my attention. It was titled ‘Seven days of Gratitude’, and I decided to complete it. While the new plan’s content was inspirational and motivating, I don’t think it was the plan itself but simply the nudge back towards focusing on gratitude that had some impact. I decided to embrace that in earnest, making a conscious effort each day, and it helped lift my mood considerably.

I’m not a stranger to actively practising gratitude, but isn’t it funny how we so easily fall out of the habit? Or we know its value in our head but it doesn’t penetrate our heart, let alone manifest in our daily activities. Why is it sometimes so hard to consistently do what’s good for us?

This second week has been a good week, and I’ve come out of that hole I was in. Practising gratitude has helped, but I’ve also been better at letting go and letting God take charge of the things beyond my control.

Maybe it was the pastor at my church last week sharing in his sermon,

You may not know what tomorrow holds,
But He holds tomorrow.

In my last post, I concluded with my understanding that God wants me to look to him more for guidance and to let him lead. I reflected that when I have done so in the past, those have been the easiest days. This past week has demonstrated that yet again.

I remember on Monday morning even before rising from bed, praying ‘God, today I give into your hands. Let it be what you will it to be, but shine your light on me and let me feel your love.

We had a great day that day, and at the end of it I thanked God for shining his light on me so brightly.

We went to the library as a family and borrowed about a hundred books, after the boys and I had played some X Box on the kids’ level of the library (of course you go to the library to play X Box).

After we got home I took Harry, our six-year-old, out for some one-on-one “Daddy time”. We took a picnic lunch, played hide-and-seek in the park, mucked about with the sand at the beach, paddled in the pool and rolled around together on the grass. We walked up the grassy hill to the top and then ran down it as fast as we could barefoot. We did whatever Harry wanted to do. The beautiful weather helped, but somehow I was able to just let go and thoroughly enjoy it and enjoy him.

harry1

Since then, my holiday break has been better. I’ve appreciated lots of little things, in particular my family. We’ve stayed home all holidays, usually just out in the morning to the park or the river or the skate park. Other than that, we’ve drawn lots, done lots of coloring, played Lego, had family movie sessions and read lots of books. I got most of the jungle tamed again out the front of the house.

I look back over my holiday break with contentment now. Even that first week, the low mood, had its purpose I think. God leads us through valleys and over mountains. The first week was a dark valley, but it led me to turn more earnestly to him every day and it reminded me to have gratefulness. It was a remedial class on gratitude.

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