195. Faith, Hope and Tea

There was once an old sage named Iroh. His wisdom was tempered by many sorrows and crowned with a compassionate heart, an affable nature and a passionate love of tea.

Needless to say, Iroh is one of my heroes.

Iroh

Iroh may be merely a character in Avatar: The Last Airbender, a television show, but his wisdom has left a strong impression on me nonetheless. In previous posts, I’ve shared his views on the futility of regret, the importance of seeking insight from many sources and the value of accepting help from others.

“Life is like this dark tunnel,” Iroh once remarked as he and a companion walked along a gloomy underground passage. “You may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place.”

Earlier this year, I found myself in a dark tunnel of my own. The posts on this blog took a dismal turn, covering subjects like depression. Then, far ahead, I thought I saw a glimmer of light. A long, dark winter surrendered to the beauty of spring. The trees outside my apartment exploded into sprays of pink blossoms. I renewed my hope that things would get better.

Thank God, things have definitely gotten better.

I won’t go into all the details, but I will share a few of the things that have made a positive difference in my life in past weeks.

I’m back on a consistent schedule

After months of bouncing between daytime and nighttime shifts at two different workplaces, I have returned to my ordinary schedule at my usual workplace. Not having to invert my sleep pattern every few weeks is a great relief!

Speaking of which…

I’m getting more sleep

In past years, I assumed I needed about eight hours of sleep every night, and averaged between seven and eight. However, the aforementioned changes to my work schedule (and my consequent sleep deprivation) forced me to reconsider how much sleep I need.

I concluded I require about nine hours of sleep every night, and I have since averaged between eight and nine. That extra hour of sleep has made a huge difference. I’ve had more energy, and my waking hours have been more productive. Bouts with depression have been milder and less frequent. Getting more sleep has been a tremendous blessing.

I’m being more consistent in fulfilling commitments and goals

Instead of using fatigue or depression as excuses to be undisciplined, I’ve been more consistent in getting stuff done. The more I practice self-discipline, the easier it becomes. It’s satisfying and empowering—and quite a relief—to fulfill commitments promptly.

I’m trying to be pragmatic

I tend to be neurotic. My anxieties have anxieties, as Charlie Brown would say. These are joined by all kinds of insecurities, doubts and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I continue learning how not to get tangled up in all that wibbly-wobbly, feely-weely stuff, and how instead to live with the sort of simple, efficient pragmatism that comes from relying upon the grace of God: to win those battles with anxiety and insecurity by choosing not to fight them.

Which brings me to my final point.

I’m doing my best to live by grace

Yes, I write a lot about grace. I often struggle to understand that God not only forgives my sins, but bears with me patiently through my endless struggles with insecurity, depression and selfishness. No matter how dismal life seems, this promise remains: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Quoth Iroh, “You may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place.”

Step by step, I’m getting there.

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