I believe you can go through life one of two ways: You can survive or you can thrive. I have a hard time defining what these two lifestyles look like, but I don’t think I have to. I think if you stop and think about your life, you will know exactly what I mean. You can probably think back on times of your life when you can say, man that was great, I was thriving! Then you could look at times—months, years, decades even—when you say, I was doing all I could to survive.
Before January 4, 2017, our little family was thriving. And then we lost Beckett. It was an event that we had no control over. It was not something that we chose, and it was not something that we liked. We slipped into survival mode. It took all of the energy Brian and I had to go through the normal motions of life. Grief is exhausting. Emotions take a lot of energy. Every day I miss Beckett. Every day I am reminded of him in some way. I could choose to focus on all of the things my life is missing. I believe this choice would plant me firmly in survival mode. I don’t want to live my life in survival mode.
Instead I want to choose to thrive. I still feel sad. I don’t expect that to change any time soon, if ever. I still do not like being a family of four again. This life we are living right now—it’s not part of my perfect plan. However, I believe with all of my heart that in the midst of imperfectness, we can catch glimpses of perfect. And when we begin to look for those things and notice and appreciate those little moments, we begin a mental shift that takes us from surviving to thriving.
This concept of thriving is not original to me. Over 2000 years ago Jesus told his followers, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) The Message puts that verse this way:
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
For me, my choice to follow Christ changes everything about this life. Yes, it gives me a hope for after this life. But right here, right now, in the midst of some serious ‘stealing, killing, and destroying’ of my life; I have a strength, a peace and a better life than I could ever dream of. And that strength does not come from me, it comes from God within me.
Sometime around the end of January, Brian and I took a look at our life and we decided it was time to make the choice to thrive again. It wasn’t an instantaneous, one time choice. The first time it was a choice we made to take Brooklyn and Boston out bowling for the first time. We laughed at the kids; we had fun as a family. We missed Beckett. Deciding to do one fun thing as a family did not “fix” our pain. But it did set us on a path to thrive. Next, we made a choice to get away as a couple for a night. The next month we went miniature golfing. We did family nights and went for walks. The choices slowly started adding up.
At first, I had a hard time grasping the concept of thriving in these circumstances. It almost sounds irreverent or wrong to even think about. I can’t give a generic definition of thriving, because I think it looks different for every person and every family. But if I personally define thriving as choosing to be thankful, choosing to look for glimpses of perfect, choosing to trust God despite how I feel—then I want nothing more than to thrive in this season of life. And I want nothing more than to encourage others to do the same. On the top of the mountain or in the bottom of the valley, look for the chance to thrive, thank God when you find it, and share it with someone else.