Maybe it was all the news about the wildfires in Colorado and elsewhere. Or maybe the Fourth of July fireworks. Or possibly just the blazing heat of summer. For whatever reason, familiar song lyrics have been in my mind a lot recently, including today. "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going ....."
What's really ignited my thoughts on this is the summer slump I've been stuck in. Somewhere in June, I started to stagnate. You could see it in my blogs -- more placeholders than real posts. You could probably detect it in my Facebook posts, notably by their reduction. Typically, if I can't think of something positive to post, I avoid posting. If you have been around me, you may have noticed more of a tired look and attitude than cheerfulness, energy and optimism.
As I've prayed and meditated and still seemed stymied in knowing what action to take to reverse this, the thought "it only takes a spark" became increasingly common. One of the things I realized is that a spark can fuel a destructive force just as easily as it can lead to productive light, warmth and energy. A spark of tiredness can lead to less healthy choices, including how I spend my time (reading the Bible and praying versus watching or reading about soap operas; sitting and doing nothing rather than walking or tackling even a small chore or lying down for a nap) and what I eat. I still haven't actually watched "The Bold and The Beautiful" since before Easter, but I've found myself reading the updates online, and yesterday actually paid money for the CBS Soaps magazine! (Gene saw it when I got home and asked, WHAT IS THIS? I had to laugh (he knows I've supposedly given up soaps), and maybe that bit of personal embarrassment/accountability will help break the obsession.) I haven't eaten things with real sugar, which for me can be like a drug, but that sugar-free Blue Bell Bunny Tracks ice cream has been on my mind every day since even before I bought some to leave at Mom's while I was there weekend before last!
Perhaps no one reading this understands what the big deal would be about wasting time on soap operas or giving in to a troublesome food (or just continual obsessive food thoughts), but I think it's just as likely most people do have their own things, large or small, that sometimes can trip them up in a big way, leading to a negative, hopeless, depressing outlook. And the question becomes: How do you put out that negative fire or harness it into a positive force?
Well, even as I continued to struggle, I knew the answer. "It only takes a spark ...." Keep praying. Keep reading the Bible and meditating. Keep being around positive people. Keep talking and listening. Keep walking and/or pedaling -- even if it seems like what I really need to do is clean off that cluttered chair, desk or table; when I know that's not going to happen, I'm better off taking a nap or walking instead of just sitting and doing nothing or surfing the Internet or getting a snack. Make a healthy choice. And keep making even the smallest healthy choices until one actually ignites the spark into a positive force for good. I also have to remember that if I don't tend the flame once it's ignited, it will go out -- or go out of control. Yes, even positive energy can become destructive. Yes, that means that even if I get tired of following my spiritual disciplines, I really do need to stay with them, because without them, my life goes out of control.
This is a start. I do believe "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going. And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing." And I believe this, also from the song "Pass It On," written by Kurt Kaiser some 40 years ago (and which I learned in high school all those years ago): "That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it. You share His love with everyone. You want to Pass It On."
I'm feeling a more positive already, for which I thank God.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
"When you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NRSV)