I stood at the kitchen counter, crumbled the paper in my hand and gritted my teeth, “Is this how my life is supposed to be?” I screamed in my unhappy heart.
“Mommy, that’s my teacher’s note. You just messed it up,” [m]y 6-year-old son said.
Although tears burned my eyes, I took his face in my hands. “Baby, mommy wants to read this, but I can’t,” my words choked. “Remember, mommy can’t see.”
But how could he or his two younger brothers understand that their mommy was completely blind. I couldn’t comprehend myself. How could God allow this retinal disease to close my vision and shove me in this darkness? And why would He steal my chance for happiness?
I wonder if you too have ever been in a place like this, so painfully unexpected. Maybe blindness isn’t what barged into your life. But there is something that keeps you awake at night, and fills your heart with stress and makes you unhappy.
My nights were like that. But not anymore; yours don’t have to either. Let’s explore how some women allow these 10 habits to make them unhappy.
Habit 1: She Focuses on the Circumstances
This was more than a habit. It was a way of life for me. How can I ignore or dismiss this unexpected blindness?
Everywhere I turned, I needed assistance. Each task to care for my three small sons was nearly impossible. More cleaning up of accidentally spilled glasses of milk. More reminders of my dependence on others.
But when nights became long and lonely, desperate prayers flowed. And that’s when God whispered a new song. His promises that say His Word would be a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105). When I dwelt on His promises, my focus changed.
Blind or not, God had me secure in His hands. Why not ponder on that? Why not fill my mind and heart on that truth?
I embraced the new habit of soaking in God’s promises like this one: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12
Habit 2: She Believes Lies
Satan delights when we ponder and rehash the ugly details. The enemy of our soul, the Devil pushes those thoughts before us. He wants us to be unhappy. And if we are in the habit of opening the door to his lies and tactics, gloom comes in and turns to despair.
And that’s when we have the choice. One, to let the Devil have a fun time whispering the ugly details over and over again, stealing our peace. Or two, silence him and embrace a new habit of living the fullness of life by listening to the true Shepherd.
Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Habit 3: She Replays Past Mistakes
That reaction may seem a bit harsh in a Christian setting. But someone has to tell us to stop, truly stop. We need to hit pause on the recording of past mistakes. We need to fast-forward the tape and erase the junk that clogs the path to a new tomorrow.
Is it a habit? Or is it a deeper issue that prompts us to cling to the past? Regardless of the root, day after day, we relive past wounds or mistakes while pacing inside an emotional prison that makes us so unhappy. For many, Godly counseling brings answers. God’s answer comes when we wipe our tears, take a deep breath, and look up. God has a powerful promise and a sure way out of this habit when He says:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Habit 4: She Blames Others
What a sorry relief when we can blame someone else for our misfortune. Doing so takes the responsibility away from us to make a change; and seemingly, it sets us free from bearing the burden to work for the solution. What an unhealthy kind of habit, don’t you think?
I tried that. I had blamed the doctors for not doing enough to save my sight. I even blamed God for being cruelly silent. For not answering my prayer. For punishing me by bringing on blindness at 30.
But that habit of pointing the finger at others grew old. God’s Word, firm and true, showed me I needed to look inwardly first. I could live as a victim or a victor.
Paul chose the same path, that’s why he said: “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
Habit 5: She Covers Up the Pain
Social media and our cell phones can be a deadly combination. Not-so-subtly they lure, stealing our time.
But even more harmful, the combination becomes the distraction that covers what is really making us unhappy inside.
And when the day is done, the ache is still there. No time to resolve it because we have to check or post one last time. Then we head to bed. Kids had drained our energy. Chores were left undone. And hubby still has needs.
So where is the happiness?
Mary has the answer. She found it. Martha was too busy. Mary was focused. Martha was in the kitchen. Mary was at Jesus’ feet.
Can you guess which one knew joy as she found the way to ease her pain?
“Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
Habit 6: She Enters the Envy Zone
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30
My bones surely began to rot. Oh, that envy, jealousy, and resentment came to bed with me each night when I first lost my sight.
It visited when least expected. When my friends share their shopping trips to the mall. When they related scenes from their vacations and commented about pictures of their families.
I longed to have their freedom to enjoy life. And I wished to have their independence.
That’s why I was envious. I was jealous. And I was miserable.
What rescued me from that destructive compare snare? It was a Bible verse that often goes unnoticed. But for me, it blared into my heart. It woke me up. And it changed my attitude.
It said to me: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Give thanks in all. All my struggles. All my challenges. All my fears. I gave Him thanks until my life turned a new colorful hue of joy.
Habit 7: She Concentrates on Selfish Ambition
My dreams were shattered. My goals vanished. And my expectations for a happy life were erased from my heart.
Can you blame me? Blind at 30, none of that was available to me.
I was reflecting in all I had lost. In all I had worked for. And all I had prepared for.
Hmm…how many times did I mention “I?” Way too many because that reflected my attitude to focus on me, my own gain or my losses. I had been the center of it all. What a distasteful habit.
But when I echoed the words in Psalm 119:36, my selfishness was exposed:
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!”
God’s testimonies of His faithfulness ushered for me a happier life, days focused on Him and moments secure in His victory.
Habit 8: She Criticizes Others
Judging those around us, pointing their mistakes and emphasizing their flaws are the pastimes of an unhappy soul.
But when choosing to be content with who we are, we reflect a happy life. We turn harsh words into kind ones. And, best of all, those kind words come right back to us. That’s how we add happy moments to our days, and joy to our life.
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3)
Habit 9: She Neglects Healthy Living
After my third child was born I enjoyed an innocent glass of milk and a few oatmeal cookies as a snack. No big deal, right?
But later, out to dinner with hubby, pizza delivered to our door, and more unhealthy snacks; all began a habit of careless eating.
As a result, I had to bite my lower lip each time I struggled to button my jeans. Those unhappy moments turned to unhappy days.
But they all changed when I became a student on healthy eating. Then is when I embraced the “OWN” mentality. O for oxygen through exercise. W for water for hydration. And N for nutrition.
I diligently put all three into my routine. A new habit of eating and exercising erased pounds. My disposition became brighter. And I was back to what was a healthy size for me.
But more than a dress size, did you know good health enhances great happiness?
And even better, joy overflows when we answer this question in the affirmative:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 3:19-20
Habit 10: She Sinks in Self-Pity
Did you know you can count on lots of food left over when you throw a pity party? That’s because you’re the only one who shows up.
Self-pity focuses on the “me “inside. It concentrates on what we lack and exaggerates the burdens we carry.
I did that. Being blind at 30, self-pity could have been my constant companion. But not so. I learned the secret, the path and the only way to combat that sorry self-pity. And that is, embracing a spirit of gratitude.
“Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:10-14
God speaks to us the same way. Like Moses, we can give excuses because of what we lack or the obstacles we face.
But when we acknowledge God’s power within us, the unhappy attitude leaves, gratitude enters, and a new kind of happiness shines through.
Because of God’s grace, Janet Perez Eckles didn’t allow her blindness to hold her back from becoming an international speaker and author of four books. Each helps thousands overcome fear, live triumphantly and bring joy back. You can read more from Janet at www.janetperezeckles.com.
This post originally appeared at ibelieve.com, published with permission.