I sat at the decorated table, adorned with colorful table cloth, themed centerpiece, cute paper plates with finger foods in various stages of nibbles, and MOPs (Mothers Of Preschoolers) literature for that month’s meeting listening to the conversations of the other moms. I did not fit in. We were going to a church that was 30 minutes away from our home. These moms “did life” together on a regular basis and only saw me twice a month at one of these meetings. I was the mom of the baby girl who hated the nursery and ended up screaming so much they would have to bring her to me half way through the meeting, long before I had a chance to drink my coffee. I was the 350 pound mom who hated the fact that the meeting space was at the top of two flights of stairs. I was the mom who needed at least five minutes to catch my breath before I could speak to anyone else. MOPs was not a break for me. It was a chore. But I needed it so desperately. I was still newly married and a stay-at-home mom and I needed adult interaction during the day. And so I made the hour round trip drive every other week to sit and listen to the other moms chat about their lives.
One meeting stands out to me in particular. A mom had just come from the gym. She was the mom who the week before had bragged that her husband had bought her a brand new Kitchen Aid Mixer “just because” (something I highly coveted). She was the mom who’s husband was the executive of something huge and awesome that we all needed to be impressed with. She was the mom who’s hair always looked perfect. She was the mom who’s clothes were from the best boutiques. She was the mom who always got a great night’s sleep. She was the mom who’s child loved the nursery and was clearly a genius and who would likely be accepted to med school at age 4. We all know that mom, right? Just making sure you have a clear picture. She was skinny and didn’t appear to have ever had a weight problem. And so when she began describing her new found joy of joining a gym and having a personal trainer, I really just wanted to smack her. Instead I shoved another donut in my face and listened as she described her workout regime. All the other moms “Oohed” as she spoke. I tuned her out and watched the doorway, half expecting my screaming child to be ushered into the room. Then she said something I’ll never forget. She said, “You know… I just got tired of barely living through the day. I don’t just want to survive, I want to thrive!”
Thrive?!?!? What the heck is that?? I was lucky that my socks matched that day and my hair had been brushed. She was talking about how “cheap” a personal trainer was. I was having to pray over my grocery budget of $65 a week in order to get it to stretch far enough to feed my family of four. But something about that word stuck with me. Thrive. What did that feel like? To not just struggle to survive the day, but to “thrive”? In the back of my heart, behind the bitterness and snarky wall that I kept up during that time of my life, I said a little prayer. Someday, I wanted to know what it felt like to thrive.
During an interview a few months ago, I was asked, “It almost seems like you see your MS diagnosis as a blessing, is that true?” The simple answer is, yes. God used that diagnosis to break me from myself. To free me from so many of the chains that I had put myself in. He used it to break my addiction to food that was killing me. He used it to break me from anger and depression that was suffocating me. He used it to break bad financial habits that caused a vicious cycle of arguments between my husband and I. He used it to make me appreciate the life, the body, the family, and the countless blessings I had been given.
Do I now have the carefree life of that adorable mom with the huge bank account and personal trainer? HA! No. Not even close. And you know what, I’m just fine with that. I do, however, have a life that I LOVE. I have a grateful, thankful life. I have a new appreciation for all the things I’ve been given and I seek to honor and glorify God in all that I do, and eat, and say on a daily basis. I still fail. I think I’ll always fail. But God’s process is continual and His mercies are new every morning. It will likely take me until my very last breath to figure this whole life thing out and probably not even then. But guess what?!?! I can finally say that I’m not just surviving the day. I’m THRIVING!
Do you want to thrive? Let me let you in on a little secret. It’s not as hard as I had always made it out to be, but it does require something none of us want to do. It requires complete surrender to God and it requires discipline to do what He’s calling you to do. Sometimes we have to be broken in order to be fixed. Let it go. Hand it all over to God. Let Him mold and shape and guide you into a THRIVING life! We’re only on this earth once, folks. Don’t just survive your day. Don’t let bitterness and snark consume your words and thoughts. SEEK and find JOY in your day! I’m telling you. Surrender to God and discipline to the things He’s calling you to do. That’s how you’re going to learn to THRIVE!