1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful
2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish
I think we’ve all gone through seasons of merely surviving life. I have had times where I wake up out of the fog of survival and I realize that this is no way to live. The circumstances look different for all of us. Some of our circumstances are fleeting, some may never go away. Some may be a result of choices we have made or quite possibly life has given you something other than you had planned. Maybe you have little ones in the house and it’s all you can do to keep up. Maybe you have stretched yourself too thin and are running like a mad woman from one activity to the next. Maybe it’s depression, anxiety or a strained relationship that is consuming your life.
There have been a variety of situations through out my life that have thrown me into survival mode, the death of family members, hard relationships, lack of confidence, fear, the list could go on. Last fall when my fourth child was just two months old I was diagnosed with Peri-Partum Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure. In 2012, I learned that I have a rare gene mutation that can cause heart problems. My cardiologists had given me the go ahead to have another baby, seeing that I had done well with my previous pregnancies. At some point during my pregnancy or post partum, I developed heart failure. When most peoples hearts have an ejection fraction of around 60%, mine was at 10-15%. I got on medications and started a treatment plan and by March 2015, I was up to a 45% ejection fraction. I will fight this the rest of my life. My heart is damaged and I have a gene that is working against it. But for now I feel healthy and strong and for that, I am thankful.
This diagnosis was a crossroads for me. I could choose to embrace fear and simply survive or embrace hope and learn to truly live, to thrive. For me it has been a realization that my time here could be cut short and that I need to embrace the life I have been given. I came across Luke 10:42, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I can choose what is better and although many things on this earth can be torn from my grasp, the choice to live an abundant life will never be taken away from me.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” -Maya Angelou
How do we get out of survival mode and learn how to thrive? Let’s face it, the situations that have brought us to this place of survival don’t just go away. The ability to thrive doesn’t mean that the struggle is gone, it means that you are working through the struggle by living life well. Thriving looks different for everyone, but here are 3 action steps that are helping me to learn to thrive.
-Give yourself an opportunity for growth. During those times in my life when I am just surviving, I find that I avoid looking within myself and truly evaluating the way that I am feeling. Having daily quiet time, reading a devotional or journaling are ways that I can grow as a person and it helps me to get through some of those hard times with just a little more grace. Start with carving out 5 minutes every day.
-Make a priority list of 3-5 things. If you are having a hard time keeping up on your house, make a list of chores that you could realistically keep up on every day. If you feel stretched too thin, make a list of 3-5 things to be involved in. It is great to be involved but when I am too busy, I get stressed and short with my family. It’s okay to say no, even to good things.
-Make one healthy change. Healthy is a complex word. Take it for what it means to you and make one step to getting healthier. It doesn’t have to be diet or exercise related, it could be something as simple as asking for help.