While I am someone who is always optimistic for others it is hard for me to do the same when it comes to my own circumstances. Lately, I have been challenged by a few friends to take my thoughts captive and speak truth over them. In a way that is conducive to how God operates, this same concept keeps popping up in other places.
How it works is simple, instead of feeling like I'm not enough I can choose to say, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." [Psalm 139:14] Instead of saying I'm not worth anything I can choose to say, "I am a chosen person...God's special possession." [1 Peter 2:9] Speaking scripture over ones own feelings in order to change what you believe can get you into positive-right thinking.
Don't get me wrong, the idea is simple but it can be hard to do. Growing up the way I did and the feelings that have been instilled from certain friendships and relationships all have reinforced the negative perception I tend to have of myself. It doesn't make it any easier that I don't like to give myself credit, even where credit is due, so sometimes speaking God's truths over my insecurity is a lot harder than it should be.
With this in mind, God has been working in my heart.
Today, I drove to Lincoln Woods State Park in RI. I've never been here before but I was armed with a camera and a purpose. My sister was kind enough to let me borrow her camera to get the feel for it to see if this is something I want to pursue, even if just recreationally. There's only so much I can capture on my little iPhone and sometimes it just leaves me frustrated. I want the intentionality of the camera. The resistance that makes each shot more purposeful, more thought out, more focused. I want to be able to capture the beauty of the world around me and I want photos worthy of framing. It's very hard to grab this kind of goodness through the iPhone camera. But maybe that's just me.
As I was driving I passed the sign on the highway for the exit I wanted to take. With no thanks to Siri (or whatever lady runs my maps app), she had me routed to take the following exit. Already I was a little annoyed with her. After all, she keeps getting me spun around in the city and as of late she can't seem to make up her mind. But as I drove the round about way, I saw some pretty great scenery. Farms and roads I wouldn't have seen had I taken the way everyone else does. It was so pretty in some spots I said I would stop on my way back to snap a few photos.
I drove through the park and felt a little overwhelmed. Since I've never been here before I didn't know the layout and there were a lot of roads that jutted out and went to small parking spots. I knew I wanted to get close to the pond so I drove until I could see a portion of it and then I parked. I wandered to the waters edge and snapped a few photos just trying to get my feel for the camera. Once I had my fill of that I walked down the road past the main entrance, the one I should have entered through. I wasn't too far past the entrance yet it was completely still with no one else really around. A car would pass by every few minutes. I was playing with the camera when my eye caught something. Then I realized what it was.
A small deer was crossing the main path. I was able to snap a few photos of the deer in a moment that felt longer than it probably truly was. I'm pretty sure on your first rookie day out in the field you're not supposed to capture something so beautiful. The fact that the deer lingered long enough for me to focus a few shots was amazing. Here I am in the woods and a deer just literally crossed my path.
Like, seriously? Only God.
This was only the beginning of me walking around and snapping photos. I couldn't help but thinking the whole time though, if I hadn't come through the back entrance, I would have never captured that.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I am such a "I shouldn't have" or "I should have" girl. Especially as of late, losing a relationship that meant the most to me, I can't help but call myself out on all the things I did wrong or didn't do right.
Yet, I realize in this moment "If I hadn't" should be what I choose to speak over those negative thoughts. If I hadn't gone the long way, I wouldn't have parked in the area I did and I would have drove past the spot that stilled me and took my breath away. If I hadn't taken today off of work to find rest for my soul in the great outdoors.. If I hadn't laced up my sneakers and left the house.. If I hadn't ... I could go back days and weeks to how this all lined up perfectly.
This is what I want to remember. God is lining my footsteps for amazing things even when I'm not expecting much. The "If I hadn'ts" of my life are going to be so much more important than the should haves and shouldn't haves....
"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old...I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." -Isaiah 43:18, 19
If I hadn't is so much easier to see in retrospect; once the pieces are put into place. But I want to believe it without seeing the pieces yet in place. I want this thought to be what helps me to live faithfully trusting in the Lord. Walking by faith and not by sight. If I can instill this thought to be the one I think, then when things seem uncertain I can be confident in the truth that I am right where God wants me. I no longer will have to worry about the past and can instead look ahead to the future. I can wonder how each step, whether right or wrong, has set me on the path that God is paving for me.
"She laughs without fear of the future." - Proverbs 31:25
I always admired this trait of the Proverbs 31 woman. Now I have the wisdom to be able to do the same. I love how God teaches us each individually. If I hadn't wrote this post I may not have made that additional connection! Wonderful.