Thursday, August 20, 2015

When Christians Go Through Really Hard Stuff

This started as a note to a friend that was going through a really hard time, but I decided to post it on my blog as a reminder. Sometimes I forget for myself, what is so easy for me to remind someone else of.

When Christians go through the REALLY HARD STUFF

Sometimes God allows YOU to go through the really hard stuff...
Not because He “knows you can handle it”
Not because “it’s His will”
Not because “you must be really special to carry your load” 

But because you are so loved by Him that He desires for you to come to a place of complete dependence and utter helplessness to experience HIM in a way that only you can in that dark situation. (If He allowed it because you could "handle it" then there would be NO need for Him. So when people say, "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle", it seriously makes me want to slap them. Please don't say that to me.)

Once you are there and know Him in this intimate way, you will look back and consider it JOY (James 1:2) and you will forever remember the personal way His tender grace held you in some of your darkest moments ...


PAIN is a necessary component of HOPE, because in my pain, my HOPE is REAL!
(Romans 5:1-5)

Does this mean you won’t give up, look away, get depressed, feel lonely, become hard, turn away, get frustrated, scream, yell, cry, become full of fear, lose it, doubt, feel like there is nothing but the pain and difficulty that lies in front of you with no end in sight?

NO....These things are sure to happen. EVEN to the one who walks closely with God. Even to the one who can so-called "handle it"...(did I mention this drives me crazy?)

The beauty lies in LOVE, COMFORT, HOPE, PROTECTION, PEACE and THE GENTLY CARING WAY that HE holds our broken hearts...when we finally seek HIM with all that we have, throw it down at HIS feet and surrender to the UNFATHOMABLE LOVE He has to pour out on us. And it's not just hearing about those things happening to this person or that. It is your own personal account. You and God. One on One. You needing him more than you ever have before, and Him saying, "I have never left you and let me show you how I care for you in your deepest pain."

AND....I don’t think doing that is a one-time practice. It is a deliberate choice we have to make over and over again in our circumstances.

I love Jeremiah 29: 11- such a popular verse about God’s purpose and plan

BUT, when you keep reading in verses 12 and 13....

“THEN, you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

It doesn’t say, you will seek me and “I will take away all the pain, yuck, hard,"

It does say He will hear you.

And, we can know that we are HIS and belong to Him who called us out of darkness (I Peter 2:8) and His promise is to help us in our weakness, even when we are so messed up we don’t know how to even pray! (Romans 8:26:27) And, HIS peace will consume our hearts and permeate every fiber of our being, so that we are no longer troubled or afraid (John 14:27, Phillipians 4:7).  
I love you my beautiful, amazing, starbucks-loving, slow-eating, friend, and one of the BEST mommas I know! You know who you are! :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Yet I Will

I have been struggling with self-pity. Seems like whether it's a little thing or a big thing, especially related to parenting, I have just simply felt sorry for myself. It's not something I am proud of, nor is it something that most people see on the surface. It is more of a heart issue. A struggle within. A dialogue I have with God, where I just want to say, "I can't do this anymore" or "this isn't fair....why does it have to be this way?"

Yes! Parenting alone is one of the hardest responsibilities, especially when the other parent is gone. There is no sounding board, no reprieve, no one else who shares the same amount of heartbreak, joy, and concern for your child...making it one of the loneliest places I have ever experienced. It is okay for me to feel the weight of that. Just not okay for me to waller in self-pity over it.

It bothers me because by nature, I can't stand when people whine, complain, and feel sorry for themselves. I want to yell into a megaphone...."SNAP OUT OF IT....YOU ARE BEYOND BLESSED...just ask the child in Africa who is starving, or the homeless man who doesn't know where he will lay his head next, or the mother who lost her child to cancer and her husband to divorce in the same year, or, or, or......" But somehow, lately, I have felt like I have "earned" the right to be that way. And I don't like seeing it in myself.

So, I come before God, again, just asking Him to change my heart. And, this is what I felt like God was telling me the other day. I had absolutely no intention of "blogging" about it, but for the last 3 days, I have repeatedly felt nudged to share, so I will. When I'm waking up out of a dead sleep and He's putting this on my mind to share, I figure I better do it, right? If for no other reason, I want my boys to know my heart and my struggles one day, and hopefully see that I was choosing to follow God's direction.

It started when I was reading a devotion the other day about the scripture in Habakkuk 3:17-18.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I WILL rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 

This was a pretty disastrous and devastating event in these times. Habakkuk the prophet had been dialoguing with God and asking a lot of hard questions about the "WHY's" of what was going on around them in those times (the imminent fall of Judah, evil and sinfulness going on and God's justice).

What really hit me was that in spite of it all. In spite of the extreme conditions and dark circumstances of what was occurring and what was to occur, Habakkuk chose to rejoice in cheerful expectation of who God is and His provision, even when he couldn't see it actively taking place around him.

YET I WILL....those 3 words moved me to a different place. They challenged me to say "YET" in the midst of where I am. What does YET means "EVEN SO and EVEN THOUGH."

I then started making a list of my "YET's" in my journal. Here are a few:

In MY time of great distress (Bunky is gone), YET I WILL...
Yet I will choose joy and thankfulness.
Yet I will remember to fix my eyes on the things unseen.
Yet I will let God write His story through me.
Yet I will let myself laugh more.
Yet I will give myself more grace.
Yet I will let others help me and will ask for it when I need to.
Yet I will be the mom my boys need.
Yet I will put one foot in front of the other.

For me, part of having HOPE is going beyond my momentary mess and finding Joy in the midst of it. It is declaring my "YET's." It is hard for me to stay in a place of self-pity when I am reminding myself,

"Yet I will..."

We all have our messes and our hard stuff. Maybe it's as simple as running out of gas, or it could be a relationship that is broken, taking your first child to college, caring for a sick parent, losing a job, struggling to pay the bills, a tough parenting issue, a marriage that no longer has love, a diagnosis, or you can fill in the blank on any given day. It doesn't really matter if your hard and my hard are different. It's not a comparison of who has it harder in life...that is where self-pity rears it's ugly head. When you and I start looking around and comparing life's hard, we lose sight of focusing on our own joy our own "YET's" in the midst of the story God has for us. This is not and should not be relative to anyone else's circumstances (Boy do I have to remind myself of that). It is a direct response to God from your own individual heart....not comparative to anyone else.

I would challenge you to write down your hard, your difficult, your messy circumstance and then in all caps....write, "YET I WILL" followed by your intentions to choose joyfulness in that situation. It has really been helping me.