Monday, March 25, 2013

Blessing

Emotions are untrustworthy things. We feel them based on things that are, sometimes, not even real. How is an emotion based on something make-believe even valid? Why do our minds and bodies respond as though something real just happened when, in actuality, all that's occurred is made-up?

But then there are those cases where there is no imagined situation, but a real one and our emotions startle in response. What then? I still hold that they--the emotions--are not to be trusted. They often blind us from the spirit of what's really going on.

So we're left with the work of dissecting our emotions; looking for causes; considering courses of action; throwing away what is not needed. And it is work. It is hard work. Dissecting emotions while in the centrifuge of feeling them would have to be. You're spinning, quite out of your own control, pushed down by the gravity of discouragement, quite literally, depressed.

In addition to hunting origins and making choices, you must also find a fixed point on which to focus so you don't lose yourself in the dizzying force of the uncontrolled spin. And that fixed point can get lost in the blur. So you keep searching and re-searching. And it's.hard.work.

At the end of an emotional day, aren't we all just looking for the spinning to slow; to stop? And there are times when we, ourselves, create the whirl--as in an imagined event. So stopping it is to remember the truth; the reality. When the carousel begins because of real events already outside of our control, stopping it is not necessarily up to us. And that fixed point becomes even more important.

The best fixed points are always centered right in front of us; the truths we base our lives on; the priorities we set for ourselves.  Working through an emotional rough patch causes me to look diligently for God.

So I went back to those fixed points in the past couple of days; the thanking I'd set out to make my habit; the Words I know Christ meant for my heart on hard days; the getting-up and trudging-through because trudging is still moving--even if it's in my sweat pants and Crocs.

There were some extras--some grace-gifts that I credit to my Father because they were tailored to the person that I am: cleaning out my inbox, blog after blog of those I follow, spoke words of encouragement to the discouraged; practical to-do's for when happiness is hard to find; daily verses with the peace of God powering their message.

And I am blessed. I remembered weighty words from a woman who has fast become my favorite author; a sister in Christ for whom I have so much respect: "I am blessed: I can bless: So this is happiness..."

What am I doing to bless? To encourage? Is it pompous to consider myself an encourager? Is it uncharacteristic? It is if I don't make it my daily...no...my moment-by-moment ministry. Less focus on me and more focus on others; isn't that how we love Jesus best? By loving others?

Jesus, help me to pour out so that You may be glorified. Fill me up when I am empty so that I may pour out again and again and again; never empty, never lacking in love, never overlook an opportunity to bless someone else.


The Thanks That Proves The Blessing
1--Valentines; Roses; Hearts

2--Hayden's Letters; Notes to Live By; The Father's Words
3--Expression; Encouragement; Spiritual Discipline
4--Missing baubles; A pot to cook in; A glass of iced tea
5--My heart stitched to his; nails hammered into walls to hold pictures; woven scarves to keep my neck warm
6--Snow; Clear skies; Deer
7--11:30am: A completed work-out; 2:30pm: A happy girl & a good day at school; 6:30pm: A meal to share w/ my family
8--A lamp broken; a Wii balance board fixed; a giant-sized CareBear thrifted
9--Unexpected grace-gifts: an invitation to teach; a friend who loves me; a snuggle-closer without asking
10--Hayden watches The Fox and the Hound; Kelly laughs at my joke; I laugh at Kelly's joke
11--Productivity; A sense of accomplishment when the job is done; the opportunity to do so
12--Learning to be grown-up; the trials I encounter; opportunities to accept God's grace & give it to others--including myself
13--A clean laundry room; a clean bathroom; an organized fridge
14--In the opportunity to parent; in the opportunity to be a wife; in my reconciled relationship with the Father
15--Losing my insecurity; Finding my stability in Jesus; Making gifts for others' 
16--Cool shade; end-of-the-day accomplishment; a longing for the light
17--Being like Christ; helping others; being obedient
18--Valentine's Day cards; daily planner pages; checks in the mail
19--Moving to Wash; Hayden's school; Attending the Wash campus of our church
20--Breakfast: starts the day; Lunch: getting a midday meal; Dinner: enjoying family time
21--My heart after being washed with the blood of the Lamb; clouds; snow
22--New attitude; keeping company with friends; alone time with my man
23--Tin: cans that hold our food; Glass: clean windows with clear view; Wood: my table
24--A brand new day; a work-out at the gym; a good drop-off
25--My old green sweater; a pair of jeans hemmed to size; a lot of little things that are blessings, besides
26--A time of testing to grow our faith in a place we did not like; A time of waiting to learn to trust in a time that I desperately needed it; A time of anticipation in a place we love
27--Saggy breasts-I still have them; long, vertical c-section scar-it gave passage to my daughter; Death of a Follower-ugly separation from us but beautiful reunification with Jesus
28--The gift of growing up in the Word; Parents committed to each other; Hard lessons learned 




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sometimes It's Just Hard


Today I read an article about Mr. Rogers. His show was, perhaps, my childhood favorite. The Land of Make-Believe was a land that made a big impact on me--I was an avid pretender for longer than I care to admit. His words, his neighborhood adventures, his teaching moments were ones that were marked by the air of a listener. He knew the words to say and when to say them but even through the TV screen, I remember feeling at ease, almost like he and I were having a sit-down conversation. He ended each show with the words, "You've made this day a special day by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you. And I like you just the way you are." It was a statement of weighty affirmation. Lately, I've forgotten the truth in that sentiment. I lack the confidence that Mr. Rogers helped instill in me about liking myself just the way I am. 

It is a struggle sometimes to see yourself the way Christ sees you...loved unconditionally. It is a struggle to live according to your new identity. And sometimes, you listen too closely to the lies whispered in ears too eager to believe them. 

I've hit a rough patch. For half a year now, I've worked diligently at trying to tame my body into submission and bring it to a place of better health and a leaner silhouette. And the progress that I expected and held onto hope would happen over the course of painstaking time, has not and I feel defeated. There have been some changes, yes, but not the significant ones on which I set my sights.  It's funny how something as menial as working out with few results can put you in a slump.

Why do I start to chip away at myself over this? A lifetime of struggle with this particular conundrum may be part of that. Or it could be that current life events find me groping for trust in a sea of murky doubt. Whatever the cause, I feel pressed with the weight of the effects. Like dominoes tumbling down, one after the other, body image only begins it.

I can intellectually call to mind all of the "right" answers for this downturn: read scripture, pray, pray scripture, remember who I am in Christ, praise, give thanks. I am trying but I'll admit it is a half-hearted attempt. Sometimes I feel like I just don't have it in me. And I just want to be held. 

I won't even get into how hard it is to give grace; to give love when I feel empty of it. Funnily enough, I attended a women's conference at church a couple of weekends ago on this very topic. It's ironic that the copious notes I took have been put to so little use between then and now.  I am trying to remember. I am trying to be still and know. But trying is hard and right now, I just want to lay myself down and have it poured over me. 

I write honestly and in the middle of it all. I cannot offer a glorious truth that has washed over me and given me a fresh new day. I cling to the hope that that is to come. Reading over this, it smacks of self-deprecation and a pity-party atmosphere. But I put it out there anyway, because weary overwhelms sometimes and maybe I'm not alone. Perhaps this is you right now, too. I will pray for me and for you. I will trudge through the half-hearted attempts of each "right" answer because trudging is sometimes progress, too. 

Cling to these with me: 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  -Matthew 11:28-30

"Forgiven, beloved, hidden-in-Christ, made in the image of the Giver of life, righteous and holy, reborn and remade, accepted and worthy, this is our new name. This is who we are now."  -Jason Gray

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."  -Jeremiah 31:3

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  -Romans 5:8

There are many, many more. Cling to them. I'll cling to mine. Until next time, peace be with you.