“I will lead them down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16
I will be the first mom to say that mommin’ ain’t easy. I have been blessed to be able to be a step mom for almost three years and now have the privilege of raising one of my own as well. Both roles are difficult in different ways but both are beautiful as well. They don’t tell you about the difficult times and the sleepless nights. Maybe they do but in your mind you imagine different. They don’t tell you about being so worried about either of them or praying for their future. They don’t tell you how deeply and completely your heart will belong to them.
If there is one thing I’ve learned these last three years and these last two weeks, it’s that being a mom should be hard because being a mom means sacrifice. It means giving when you are empty. Loving when you are hurt. Praying when you don’t know what to say. And hoping that through it all you can be a light in the darkness and a refuge from the storms in this world. God has reminded me that it is a blessing to be walked out with Him. Time with Him is crucial to not lose your sanity and patience. Prayer is our biggest weapon against the enemy and love covers all.
So while there are many days I have cried over these last few years, there are many prayers that have been answered. God continues to guide and show me how to walk along this mom path. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s just really hard. But at all times, He is God and He is with us. He gives us the strength we need for each day if we let Him.
I’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?
After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?
…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.
On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.
Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”
God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.
It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?
I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.
Today I’m thankful that the same God who parted the Red Sea still has His hand and power in all of our circumstances. “The waves and wind still know His name.” So when confusion or hurt, doubt or fears, trials or failures come our way, we can rest securely in a God who works all things – the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly – into His perfect plan.
In those moments that I find myself feeling anxious, I have to remind my heart that just a whisper of His name can cause the mountains to move and the hills to be leveled. God will always show Himself faithful. I am so quick to forget this fact. When worry or hard times hit, I forget all He has done (can I just say how much I relate to the Israelites!) and quickly conjure up scenarios of the worst possible outcome.
Today, I’m taking a moment to look over the last 7 years of my life and choosing to see where my God has shown up. Because truthfully, some days we do have to choose God over worry or anxiousness. Choose to see the good. Choose to trust Him. Choose to remember His faithfulness through the years. Choose to know that He is the God who sees it all and is working in ways we can’t imagine.
The trouble, the pain, just keeps coming and coming – piling up, suffocating, and consuming every thought. You search for hope in the darkness. You barely remember the time, a long time ago, when you thought if you just followed Jesus life would go well, easy. But that was long ago, and your very-real trouble seems to far out-weigh the blessings. Continue reading “God Is At Work In The Ugly”
W O R R Y
It’s something I struggle with on a regular basis. I worry about finances. I worry about relationships. I worry about time. I worry about the future. I worry about things that have never happened. The “what ifs” plague my mind consistently, swarming with fear and drenched in doubt.
Continue reading “Worry”
I have a bad case of nostalgia. Please tell me I’m not the only one. It doesn’t take much more than a song on the radio or a specific smell to take me back to another time and place. I find it slightly strange that the smell of potpourri and pita bread can transport me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen.
Nostalgia: something that haunts all of us from time to time in the best possible way.
Continue reading “A Bad Case of Nostalgia”
In my last blog post, I wrote about how I need to do more preaching to my own soul, to get truth sown deeper into my heart and mind…especially during the difficult times and circumstances of life. Well, sometimes, I struggle with this.
I can tend to get into such a place that it would take more mental and emotional where-with-all, strength and stamina than I have at that moment to even know where to start. The scriptures that had once brought comfort and peace and that strengthened me, that I wrote on my bathroom mirror and have on my screensaver and put as the wallpaper on my phone, fall flat. I can read them and have friends speak them to me and even meditate on them, trying to squeeze out the same results that I had before when that scripture brought me new life, but to no avail…I’m still just as broken or hurt or hopeless.
I have learned that for me, in those times, I need a little something else before I am able to absorb the truths that I know in my head but that are having a hard time penetrating my heart…and it’s not because the truths are not as true this time or that the effectiveness of scripture has changed. Typically for me, it is because I am spent. (You know, when it’s not because I’m being rebellious and outright ignoring or rejecting truth.) I’m mentally, spiritually and emotionally exhausted, and I can’t even think of how to approach preaching to myself. But because my God is faithful and gracious to me, He has given me a tool to use when I can’t make myself function, when I need to stop trying to fix myself and just rest in His presence. For me, that tool is worship, songs of truth that can wash over me in comforting waves and that I can proclaim when I can’t find the words for myself.
Continue reading “Truth Through Earbuds”