What image comes to mind?
Walking on a beach with the wind in your hair, the warmth of the sun on your shoulders and the sound of the surf in your ears?
Standing in the woods where it is quiet enough to hear not only the birds but the squirrels as they scamper through the trees?
Sitting next to a cosy fire as giant white snowflakes descend and the world seems far away?
Watching the sky light up with streaks of color as the sun dips below the horizon?
All of these things and more came to my mind. In the mode of true confession, I am in paradise. I am sitting on a beach in the shade, with the wind blowing and waves braking on the breakwater off shore. It is mid morning and the beach is quiet. The sound I hear most is the crinkle of the palm branches rustling overhead.
But a thought plagued me this morning. As I awoke I said, “Just another beautiful day in paradise!” Then my very next thought was, “Why don’t I feel this way every morning?” That was enough to cause me to pause and ponder a bit.
Why is today so different? God still reigns. Jesus is still my savior and my righteousness. I am still the same weight I was yesterday, well dinner was really good so thankfully I can’t verify that. I am still me. None of the issues I had yesterday have changed. The earth is still in turmoil, time is still passing. Nothing significant has changed.
I am some 2100 miles away from home. I didn’t have to do breakfast dishes or even make breakfast. I slept in a different bed that I don’t need to make. I am not going to work today. The normal responsibilities are not here. But some of the normal freedoms are not here either. I am limited to what is on the menu for dinner or the buffet for breakfast. There are events that require my attendance, new people to meet and things I need to do. So the responsibilites are different, but not gone.
So why do I feel like I am in paradise? My favorite place is not even the beach! I am a mountain girl at heart. Pine and aspen forests, rugged mountain trails and clear streams with craggy mountain tops on the horizon. But I would easily say that I am in paradise. So what is it?
I am coming to the conclusion that what is different is…me. It is my attitude. I don’t mean to say that this place is not beautiful, quiet and amazing, because it is –VERY! But I think the key here is my attitude or maybe my altitude (I am at sea level).
If it is not the place but a change in outlook, why can’t I spend every day in paradise?
Maybe I can.
What if I woke up every morning with the same attitude that I had this morning?
The important stuff that is true here is true at home. Some stuff is even better there. I sleep in my own bed. The people I love the most are there. My puppies are there. My girlfriends, my Bible study friends, my home, my ministry — all of the stuff that makes up my “real” life is there. Isn’t that really what paradise is about? Living the life I have been called to live because of who I am in Christ? I think that that is truly what paradise is.
Not that I am complaining. As the beach begins to fill up with people, I am at peace. I am going to enjoy my 5 days in paradise. Then I will return home to my own paradise, to the people and the life I love. It’s not perfect, but neither is Puerto Rico. But in God’s timing, it is the perfect place for me to be right now because He is with me, no matter what my location or my altitude.
Originally published April 2012