Jesus is my compass

I believe I was "bitten by the blogging bug" years ago before blogging existed. For years I've spent countless hours composing heartfelt letters both handwritten and typed. I've poured my heart into lengthy emails, scribbled line after line into journals and for every word I've written I have felt compelled to write for an audience. And most of the time I did...having most of it memorized by the time I recited it to every friend and family member closest to me. I have derived myself to a very humbling realization. I may have "poured my heart" into writing to others but my motives were selfish. If you were one of the unlucky recipients of my words...I usually had a bulls eye on you with something I just had to tell you about yourself. I tried to "fix others" when I was the one in need of serious repair.

Despite the harshness I sometimes doled out, I was told by my loved ones that I have a knack for writing, an eloquence that is a gift to be shared. Their words have encouraged me but still I was uninspired to continue writing. I've always wondered what I could possibly write about that others would want to hear. It was no surprise that I've been less than confident, since I feel overshadowed by my family of talented writers. I do not possess the imagination they have. Their colorful words jump from the pages, their stories are filled with fantasy and the sort of creativity most people can only dream about.

Well today I was inspired by anothers blog about "not throwing away my confidence". I know I have a story to tell about my life\'s journey, and now is the time to shout it from the rooftops. My motivation is the hope that my words will be something others can relate to; to begin a change in their lives that will alter their course and point them in the right direction.

If I had attempted blogging years ago, it would have consisted of drivel; complaints about my life and the pity I often felt for myself. It would have been compiled of string after string of profanities about my husband. I would have whined about all the negative in my life. I would have made it clear that motherhood was not worth the work it entailed. I would have explained in lengthy and redundant measures just how much my life sucked. And I wouldn\'t have been lying. It was empty and bleak. I was depressed and filled with anxiety. I felt alone. Completely and desperately alone. It felt like I was serving a prison sentence in solitary confinement. I pondered over what I did to deserve it. I obsessed over all the things that irritated me and angered me. It didn't matter that I have truly never been alone. I have a wonderful family. I have the best mom in the whole wide world and I have an amazing man in my life that could easily win "husband of the year" many times over. I have two beautiful, healthy and marvelous children. I also have a handful of close friends whom I often turn to.

But I would have been unable to share that positive with you. I was blinded by the negative I chose to focus on. I was zeroed in on myself and how I felt. My feelings were all consuming. It was like looking through the lens of a camera at myself with the zoom pressed fully in. Out of focus. I had to take a step back, out of my shoes into the perspective of others to gain some clarity. Once I had done that I would feel like I had achieved something great, I was growing maturing and able to be empathetic. Then as I continued to strive in "making it all right" it would all come crumbling down again. I was giving myself credit, so when others let me down I was back to the blame game. Most of my life has been spent pointing the finger for my misery. My father abandoned me, my step-dad was mean to me, my mom didn't take my side, my friend said something hurtful, so-and-so didn't return my call, my boss is a jerk, my husband didn't pick up his dirty socks, my kids are everyone is at fault and I am not wrong for feeling this way. Right? Well I did feel that way. *enter lots of therapy* A place where I learned that my feelings are valid. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to knock counseling. I have spent many hours sitting in a chair opposite a professional who dedicated their life to the skill many of us lack; listening. I am grateful for having that outlet, and I have learned a lot. But it didn't "fix me". It showed me that most things in this life are not so black and white. But I still struggled to not make everything about me. After all I'm the one in my own head. How do I get out of it? For me there is only ONE way. By pointing my inner compass towards my true North. Jesus. Now this is where many who might attempt to read my blog will scrunch up their nose and make the "pfftt..." sound because they are not religious". It's not about religion. It is about a relationship. The most important relationship in my life. I am living proof of that; with an emphasis on the word living. When I hit rock bottom, I attempted suicide. Without this "direction" my life would have ceased to exist. I would not be here. It is simple. THIS is black and white. I had given up on everything. Life was too difficult to live on my own. All the times I've tried literally drove me mad. I don't have the strength it takes to be selfless. Without the ability to be selfless my relationships suffered. Because I was centered on myself. There is only one human man in all of history that possessed the qualities it took to be 100% selfless. Even if you have doubts, the story is true. The life of Jesus is a historical fact. I've had my doubts. My faith has wavered. There were times the Bible stories I grew up with sounded like something out of a fantasy novel. A man born of a virgin birth, spent his life teaching and performing miracles, crucified and resurrected. But for me it took turning my life toward this inner feeling I had that there just had to be something greater than me. The rest fell into place. Jesus is my compass. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I am here as living proof that following Him can change a life.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm still far from perfect. But if I were to take a time machine back a few years, I wouldn't even recognize myself. My life was all about what others could do for me, or didn't do for that matter. The majority of my time was spent fighting with my husband about his failure to meet my standards. I'm not going to lie, we still fight. I still have most of those same feelings. Days where nothing goes my way, physical ailments and multiple surgeries. Ungrateful kids and a messy husband. Chaos and distress. But after my world caves in I remember to look for the direction I need. As soon as my compass points towards Jesus, all the struggle falls away.

Many people think they possess the inner strength to find the positive amidst a world filled with sadness, despair and heartache, but I don't know any one person succeeding. I tried on my own and it would last for minutes. I surrounded myself with "self-help" books, positive quotes on pretty plaques around my house and a burning desire to be happy. Live, Laugh, Love became my motto. I still love that quote. But it begs the question: Live, Laugh and Love for what? For who? Why? Or most importantly how? Because living for myself doesn't work, it leaves me with nothing to laugh about, just as loving myself doesn't work. I have to love others first and as I stated earlier I can not do any of that on my own. When I see the quote now it points me towards my reason for living, my strength and my peace. Jesus is my compass.

I challenge you today to take a minute and consider what negatives overwhelm you in your life. Then just give it to God and see what happens. I promise you won't be disappointed. I triple dog dare ya! Even if you are cynical...what have you got to lose?

Brandi Soderstrom. I'm married to my best friend and soul mate. I am a stay-at-home mom with two kids, living, laughing and loving one day at a time with Jesus as my compass.