uptomytoes

Hope & Humor for Single & Divorced Parents

My Life…Living It

autumn trailThank you so much for all your encouraging words and prayers.  I feel badly that I have used this blog so often to share my struggles, and lately not as much my blessings.

I kinda feel like I’m just plugging along waiting for God to “fix” some things.  He definitely doesn’t work on my schedule…at all…I mean….AT ALL!

But He has encouraged me this week, and for that I’m so very thankful.

I’ve been doing a study on the book of Hebrews…not an easy study, but very good.  This week I was asked to read about the Israelites, particularly the part where they are complaining. That is a BIG part of their history. And mine. I know that I have compared myself to the Israelites before…I’m a grumbler just like them, dang it.

Did you ever think about the fact that the Israelites who had to wander in the wilderness because of their unwillingness to trust God were the generation who had witnessed all of the signs and wonders of God?  That hit me this week.

Those people had lived through the plagues of Egypt….they’d witnessed God changing the hearts of the Egyptians so much so that they gave them jewelry and animals and stuff to take on their journey…they’d followed the pillar of smoke during the day and been comforted by the pillar of fire at night, they’d walked through a wall of water, they’d eaten manna, feasted on quail and seen water come from a rock…Good grief!  It seems like even one of those signs or wonders would be enough to convince someone to follow God forever.

And yet, they struggled.  They weren’t worse people than us…in fact, they were very much like we are now.

Lord, give me a sign.  Lord, this is too hard.  Lord, I know you promised, but I’d sure like it now.  Lord, that Promised Land looks scary.  Lord, are you sure?  Lord, this way looks so much better, easier, nicer, fun…  Lord, do you mind if I just do my own thing this one time?  Lord?

In my life…I really wish that things had already changed…that things had gotten better by now – better in my terms.

This place that I am…I wonder…Is it my Egypt?  My wilderness?  Or is it my walk into the Promised Land?

I don’t believe it is my Egypt…I’m no longer a slave.  Jesus made sure of that.

Is it my wilderness?  I guess I have to evaluate my life…my walk with the Lord.  Have I missed milk and honey for caffeine and sugar?  (Pretty much living on caffeine and sugar :) )

I don’t think I’m in a wilderness.  I think I’m where God wants me.  Oh gosh, I hope so.

Am I walking to the Promised Land?  I believe I am on that journey…maybe it’s not the journey to a promised land here on earth, maybe it’s THE Promised Land.

But maybe trying to match my walk with the Israelites isn’t exactly the walk I should be trying to match.  There are other stories…other people with unique walks.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Joseph – lots of hard stuff before the great reveal.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Ruth – sorrow, hard work, barley and Boaz.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Esther – a season of service, preparation, fasting, then feasting.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Peter – some dipping below the surface of the stormy sea, some denial, and some serious forgiveness.

Maybe I’m a little bit like all of them…a combination of chaos!  :)  Well, not chaos…just a little bit of crazy.

I wonder if I should stop trying to figure out whose life my life is like and just live the life God has given me to live.

My life.

Exhausting, but blessed.

I used to keep a list of thing I considered blessings.  Things like the colors of fall, playing the piano, the sound of tires driving on gravel, waves crashing on the beach, a breeze blowing the curtains, hot cocoa in coffee, a hug from one of my children, a text from a friend…there were (and are) so many things in any given day that were a blessing.  I’ve lost sight of that.  I’ve forgotten to count my blessings.

Again.

How often am I going to forget to count blessings?  (Don’t answer that.  I’m ashamed what your guess would be…especially based on my blogging.)

So this study in Hebrews has reminded me of some things to be thankful for.  I’ll share a few that have comforted and convicted me.

“…his works were finished from the foundation of the world.” 4:3  (Nothing left to do!)

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  4:14-16

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  7:25

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” 9:24

“…so Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” 9:28

“…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” 10:22-23

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised…But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” 10:35-36,39

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  12:1-2

I know that’s a lot of verses, but I couldn’t figure out which one I’d want to leave out!  I love them all.  Studying scripture is so encouraging…so edifying.  God does still speak so strongly through His word.  I’m so thankful for His word!  There!! That’s the first thing I’ll add to my new thankful list I’m gonna restart tonight.

What a perfect time to get back to thanking God for things!

I don’t know that it’ll fix my life, but an attitude, outlook, and perspective fix will definitely be a good thing…actually, it’ll be a great thing!

2 Comments »

Hanging by a Thread

threadTonight was exceedingly rough.  I really dislike those nights.  So instead of sleeping I decided to write.  I can’t sleep anyway…don’t want to wake up any friends…and I’ve already poured out my heart to God face first in the carpet.

I’m back to those days.

My face in the carpet days.

I don’t have a closet to hide in anymore…oh how I miss my closet.

One of the many things that broke my heart tonight was all my interactions with my littlest girl.  The transitions our family has made have been really very difficult for her.  She is feisty anyway and put a change in the mix and she’s just…well, REALLY feisty.

Unfortunately I have about 2 minutes worth of patience left at the end of the day and I can’t seem to be the mommy I want to be.

I want so much to be kind, gentle, and patient mommy, but right now I’m so blasted tired after work and staying up late to finish coursework or classwork or planning or grading or just being plain sleepless like tonight.

So I get fussy about my daughter’s fussiness and then mommy guilt comes crashing down.

I’m gone more than I am with my children.  It is yet another huge change that has occurred in my life in the past 5 years.  And, honestly, I hate it.

In my short amount of time with my children I want to love on them…and yet, this little one and I can seem to do nothing but butt heads.  According to her, I’m the meanest mommy ever.  Of course that is her response to being in trouble.

Tonight I told her that it was her choice whether she got nice mommy or mean mommy.  It sounded good in theory…at least it did about 2 seconds before I spoke it aloud.

But something seemed off…I couldn’t put my finger on it until she and I talked later.  I told her, “You have to make better choices.”  She gave me the reasons for her bad choices and all involved other people.

To which I said, ‘You can’t let other people determine how you are going to act.  Your behavior is your choice.”

Ouch.

THAT’s why my good mommy/bad mommy comment didn’t feel right.

Why does my 7 year olds’ behavior determine mine?

I’ll tell you why…I’M HANGING BY A THREAD!

Tonight as I lie in bed trying desperately to fall asleep, feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack, and begging God for something…I don’t know what…I began to pray more than I have in days, weeks.

I realized that the things that have changed in my life lately have been very good in some ways, and just so very difficult in others.  I have such guilt for working…such guilt for not providing a better situation for my children…such guilt for being tired, impatient, easily angered, and overwhelmed.

And sometimes I just want desperately to go back to life before…not even life before divorce, but life right after.  Life when everything was awful but I had perspective and peace.

I want perspective and peace again.

I know why I don’t have it though.  I haven’t made any time to pray…just those “Hail Mary” prayers I make on a daily basis.

I don’t make time to be in the Word – that would make such a difference.  I really need to do that…forgo more sleep I suppose.  Ugh, how is that even possible?

I don’t really know but that will be my first prayer…that God would provide time in the Word.

My second will be that God would provide time with my children…good, fun time with my children.

My third will be that God will enable me to handle the responsibilities He has given me with more grace and peace.  (I’m too afraid to pray for patience).

My fourth will be that God gives me perspective on my life…that I will remember that He is sovereign and I am not.  Good gravy – I have control issues.

I made decisions based on the knowledge that I had.  I trusted that God was leading me.  I did that whole step out in faith thing.  And although tonight I’m a mess, I know that God led me.

I just need to keep reminding myself that just because things are hard doesn’t mean that they are wrong.

I need to handle things better. God has given me the tools to handle things…His word, His strength, His wisdom, His peace.

I need those things very much.

And God gives them…just need to ask.

I’m asking.

Still hanging by a thread….but I’m thinking now it might be changing to a thread of hope.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12

7 Comments »

Strength for the Weary Warrior

silly knightYears ago I lead a women’s retreat called “How to Dress Like a Warrior.”

Lately I have felt anything but warrior-like.  If I am a warrior, I’m definitely a weary warrior.

Today I reread Ephesians 6:10-11

Finally be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power. 

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

I thought I’d look up the word might in my mighty big concordance.  It pretty much means strength, might, and power.   So I decided to look up other verses about God’s might…I’m in awe.

 The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. 

He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases his strength. 

Isaiah 40:28-31

 

WOW!!!! Did I need to read those verses right this very minute!  I can’t even begin to tell you how weary and faint and NOT mighty I am right now.

There is just no way around the tired…believe me, I’ve looked.  I’ve tried to get rest… get on top of things…have less going on…take charge…let go…hang on…release…you know, everything that is supposed to make life easier, but nothing really changes the crux of the matter.

I’m a single working mom with a bunch of sweeties…throw in trying to sell a house, find a house, prepare lessons, grade papers, deal with family issues, financial issues, and continuing ex-husband issues…well, there is no way to avoid the tired.

And sometimes when I consider the armor of God, I wonder if I’m even wearing it.   Sometimes it feels like I’m in a battle wearing my pjs and my only weapon is a feather pillow.

I was thinking about that verse – Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.  I’m thinking that means that before the armor goes on I need to have the Lord’s strength working in my life.  Otherwise I’m just putting on my own armor – my own righteousness, my own truth, my own salvation, my own everything.

And honestly, I’ve got cruddy armor.

My breastplate is dented.  My shoes are Dollar Tree flip flops.  My shield is made of cardboard.  My helmet is an old baseball cap.  My sword…well, it’s more like a toothpick.  You get the idea.

If the armor must be God’s, I’m thinking the strength must be His as well.

In the New Testament that strength is often equated with the resurrection of Jesus.  Everything truly does go back to Jesus and the gospel.  I can live a life of victory and strength because of Jesus’ victory and strength on the Cross.

There’s a quote by Matthew Henry which basically says that no matter how good your armor is on the outside, if you don’t have a good heart on the inside, it’s useless.

“Let a solider be ever so well-armed without, if he have not within a good heart, his armour will stand him in little stead.”  Matthew Henry

I could have all that righteousness, faith, salvation, truth, and even the gospel, but if it all hasn’t reached my heart…it’s not of much use to me.  And if the foundation of my faith is not God’s strength, but my own…well, let’s just say that’s not much of a firm foundation.

Maybe things have been so difficult lately because I’m trying to do all this in my own might? Unfortunately I’m not sure how to do it any other way.  How do I not do everything that needs to be done…and what does it look like to do things in God’s strength, not my own?

In each ridiculously busy day, what do I give to God?  What do I let go of?  I wish I knew right now…I wish the next paragraph in this blog would hold the key to letting go and letting God.

But maybe it isn’t so much about me doing anything more or less.  Maybe it is more about me having a shift in my mindset.  Maybe I need to re-evaluate what is causing me to feel so weary.  Could it be my own expectations?  My wish and hope to have a different life?  Discontentment?  Fear?  Insecurities?  Anxiety?  Anger? Bitterness? Frustration?  Probably some of those, maybe all…depending on the day.

I keep trying to figure out how to make this life easier…get off the battlefield.  I don’t think that is God’s plan for me yet.  I think the plan is to teach me to trust despite the battle…to smile despite the frustrations…to be thankful despite the weariness…to praise despite the problems.

And as I’m listing some of what causes me angst, I’m thinking that part of the change in perspective might be stopping all the focusing on the battles, frustrations, weariness, and problems.

Good gravy!  There are good things in my life too!  The blessing of children.  The love of friends.  The provision of a place to stay, a car, a job, and food on the table.  There’s even things like beautiful clothes to wear, inspiring music to listen to, and wonderful books to read (if I had time to read).

Most morning on my way to work, I see gorgeous sunrises.  I’m also blessed to drive through a park that is often filled with deer walking quietly through the morning mist.  It is exquisite and peaceful.  A truly wonderful way to start my day!

In the evening, I can step outside and look up at thousands of twinkling stars…again exquisite and peaceful.  God does offer me peace, rest, and opportunities for thankfulness and praise.  If I would but open my eyes and take a minute away from the stress of my circumstances, I think I’d see so many more things to inspire and bless!

There will always be things that distract us…things that cause us to take our eyes off of Christ…things that sap our strength…BUT nothing can sap God’s strength!  And if God is the source of our strength, we do not need to fear the frustrations of life, we can rest assured He will provide all that we need…even the armor to get us through the battle.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church

and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!  Ephesians 3:20-21

3 Comments »

Leaps of Faith or Waiting on the Lord?

Sometimes life comes at ya kinda fast, doesn’t it?photo (32)

I feel like for the last 4 weeks I’ve done nothing but rush and run and rush some more.

I made decisions…took leaps of faith…and God opened doors just when I thought I was going to hit another wall.

My journal has been full of questions like, “Am I moving forward when I should be standing still?”

“Should I be stepping out in faith or should I be waiting on the Lord?”  “Should I be seeking more counsel or searching more Scripture?”  “Am I discontent or being moved by the Spirit?”

And honestly, a lot of the counsel I got was contradictory…like those questions. 

I decided to take steps forward and pray, “What now, Lord?”

And the Lord answered. 

Just when I thought that time was up God flung open a door and I grabbed my children’s hands and jumped through it.

About 3 weeks ago I saw an ad for an English teacher position in a great school district.  On Wednesday I applied for it, on Friday I interviewed for it, on Monday I accept it and on Wednesday I started it.  It was the craziest 7 days!

So now my children and I have moved (sorta) and I have started teaching 6th grade English.  It has been exciting but absolutely and thoroughly exhausting! 

There doesn’t seem to be time to do anything but work, drive children around, be with my children, and do the regular everyday stuff of living.

I’m ever so grateful though.  God is so good.  I, once again, feel like David who was in awe of God’s goodness to him and his family.

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?  And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD.  You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God!  And what more can David say to you?  For you know your servant, O Lord God!  Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.  Therefore you are great, O Lord GOD.  For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

2 Samuel 7:18-22

I so often feel overwhelmed by God’s goodness.  I’m thankful that even when I struggle with trusting Him about things…when I feel afraid, anxious, and frustrated…He doesn’t fold His arms, shake His head, and say, “Well, if you aren’t going to trust Me, then you can just sit there and I’m not gonna do a thing for you.” 

Instead He looks on me “according to [his] own heart” and does what He does best…loves me and takes care of me and all my stuff.

It is in these moments when I wonder why I struggle so…why were the last few months so full of difficulties…why can’t I just trust Him? 

I think I could say that I’m a lot like the father with the sick child who pleaded with Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 8:24)

I believe God answers prayer and I believe God has absolutely only our best in His plan and I believe God loves me more than I can imagine, but I know, from experience, that sometimes the plan hurts.  The plan can be quite difficult….excruciatingly difficult.  I know that sometimes the answer is no or not yet.  I know that sometimes God lets us wait so we learn patience and trust…so our faith can be strengthened in the process.

And here I am…I want quick solutions, fast answers, easy plans, and some peace and rest in the process.

Who doesn’t want those things, right?

But God desires us…not necessarily us doing something better or different or faster or quicker or more patiently or more kindly…although all those things can be very good…God wants ME.  He wants all of me. 

Me…the stressed single mom.

Me…the worried woman.

Me…the tense new teacher.

Me…the exhausted one. :)

I kept thinking while I was waiting for direction that I must have been doing something wrong…that I was too much of a mess, too anxious, focused on the wrong thing…that I was missing something.  It was something I was or wasn’t doing. 

But God has reminded me once again that it is ME He wants.  Me…in whatever goofy state I’m in.

There is so much beauty in that.

I don’t have to worry or stress or fuss.  I don’t have to do or not do something.  I don’t have to think or be or say or not think or not be or not say something. 

My life is not defined by me…it is defined by Him. 

He is my life.

Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4

I’m praying that I will remember these days of provision…that I will build a little place of remembrance in my heart and mind so I won’t forget that even though I had to wait a bit and things were uncertain, God was faithful…as always.

3 Comments »

Why not talk to God?

photo 1 (3)I shared recently about the big decisions I need to make and how much I was struggling to make them.

It has been a season of tremendous confusion for me…no easy answers, no straight, lighted path before me, nothing uncomplicated.

I kept asking God to just make things clear to me.  I kept telling Him that I would go or be wherever He wanted me to go or be…just please tell me!

But as I have shared before, I kept looking to others to help me decide…to wrestle through decisions with me.

I wanted friends willing to listen to me say or ask the same thing 15 times in 15 different ways.  I needed to grapple and ponder and brainstorm.  And I didn’t want to do it alone.

This single parent decision-making thing can be a lonely business.

And for someone who likes to think out loud, it is torturous…unfortunately I think I’ve been torturing everyone around me.  I put my friends and family in the position of having to hear me think out loud a lot.

I spent a lot time trying to find someone…anyone…that would tell me what to do!  I’m surprised they all didn’t run away from me.

I felt such a burden to figure things out…just to make a decision already.

I wanted to talk (and talk and talk…)

And it struck me

Why not talk to God?

Maybe that desire to think out loud is really more about a desire to pray.  I just hadn’t thought of it that way before.

I’d been so busy looking for someone to lead me that I’d missed talking to the One who is my Leader.  I’m truly like a silly little sheep.  I have The Good Shepherd as my guide and I’m not looking to Him.  I’m looking around to anyone and everyone to give me answers, direction, and guidance.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

But God in His graciousness did indeed provide.

First it was a dear friend who, while in the midst of her own health crisis, willingly listened to my life circumstances and shared her thoughts.  I’m in of God’s provision.

She asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years.   She said, “Focus on where you want to be, rather than all the little things that need to happen to get there.”

At first I thought, “How in the world do I do THAT?  There are things that need to be done…decisions that need to be made and actions that need to be taken!”

But the more I thought about it the more I realized that if I trust God’s leading, I must also trust that He will provide a way.

I kept thinking of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant who had to step into the river before it parted.  Maybe I need to be willing to do that as well…take a step of faith.

So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away… Joshua 3:14-16

A lot grabs me in those verses…but one thing that stuck out was that the Lord wants us know that this was not an easy wade in the water…this was an overflowing river.  Probably seemed a bit daunting to those priests, but they trusted that God was going to make a way for them to follow His leading and they took a step of faith.

God gave direction and then provided the way.

I want that.

I want direction…clear direction…obvious direction…a well-lit straight path ahead.  I’m finding that God doesn’t often choose that path for me.  My path is more often than not a little dark so I can only see a step or two in front of me.  I cannot even see a bit up the path.  It is always, and I mean always, a bit curvy and rocky.  I’m walking slowly, deliberately and with anxiety in my heart for what lies ahead.  I want to make decisions that I know will turn out well…decisions that have a happy ending.

I know I can trust God.  I also know I can trust that God’s word is true.  And His word says that I will have trouble.  I’ve been living in the trouble times…I long for peaceful.  I’m always worried that my decisions will lead to more troubled times. Lord, forgive me for my fear and anxious thoughts.

But I also know that there is peace in making a decision and trusting God with the outcome.  I want to make a decision and have the outcome guaranteed…guaranteed to end the way I want.  But God says that He guarantees the outcome to be for His glory and my good…not that it will be my “perfect” outcome.

As I was wresting with my hope for perfection, God continued to bless me.  My one sister, who loves me and all my goofiness, was willing to listen, brainstorm and pray with me until the wee hours of the morning.  My sister, the one I grew up with, is also my sister in Christ.  And what a blessing she is to me!

I shared with her all my thoughts, concerns, fears, and ideas…and she listened patiently, and even laughed at all my jokes! (That is definitely a blessed thing J!)

As we talked through my situation, she said some things that really struck me:

If I love Christ and live my life for Him, He WILL lead me.

If my desire is to glorify Him and bless others, He will work in my situation to those ends.

Sometimes a decision just needs to be made and God will take care of the rest.

And finally, she reminded me of Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That term guard was what she wanted me to notice. It’s actually a military term.  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says that to guard means: “‘a sentinel, guard’ – to guard (keep watch) like a military sentinel; (figuratively) to actively display whatever defensive and offensive means are necessary to guard.”

God’s peace guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  He is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect our hearts and our minds.

So if that is true…why do I so often feel so little peace?

I don’t believe it is because God is doing anything wrong…I believe that it is because I’m seeking that peace in my circumstances…in my decisions.

My sister pointed out that God’s peace is something I have regardless of my circumstances, my decisions and their outcomes.

It is my decision to live in that peace that God does and will always guard.  I’m blessed by that realization…that reminder.

And I’m grabbing hold of that reminder…no, I’m grabbing hold of that peace.

My big decision is one of the biggest of my single mom life…and one of the top ten of my life to this point.

I know that regardless of my decision, God will not leave me nor forsake me.

And regardless of my decision, God’s peace is mine.

Oh how desperately I want that peace.  It seems so “christianeze-ish”  (my word) for me to say I will live in God’s peace regardless of things going on…and it also seems a bit sketchy that I would say that after all I’ve written about struggle and anxiety and fear…BUT….

That peace is God’s…not mine. It’s a God thing.  And I will grab hold of it and I will focus on it and I will study it and I will live it because God is guarding me with it.

I’m so thankful for my Lord, for my friend and for my sister.

God will lead me even if it isn’t with lightning bolts and neon signs…it might be a late night talk or a quiet morning studying His the Word or a little bit of both or He might just guide me to make a decision and trust Him.

My decision right now is to take a big step of faith. I’m moving forward without a definite plan, but with hope and peace that as I step out God will guide.  I’m taking a big step and praying fervently that God will make clear paths where I see none right now.

I’m trusting God will lead me…and I’m excited to see what He shows me.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.  Psalm 37:23-24

4 Comments »

Who Am I Going With?

photo (31)Again I’m faced with big decisions…

Again…

Do you hear the underlying groan in my writing?

I sat with my dear friend and prayer partner recently and said, “I’m tired of trying to discern God’s will.”

I felt so ungodly saying that…so grumpy, tired, and sinful.

I want to be better at it.

I feel like I must be doing something wrong…or not doing something right. 

Lord, why does it feel so difficult to know what to do?  Why can’t I figure things out?  Why is this so hard?  Am I doing something wrong?  Am I missing something?

I have prayed…and prayed…and prayed.

I have sought wisdom in Scripture.

I have asked way too many friends for advice…I think I just really really want someone to tell me what to do.

SOMEONE JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

And yet, I know….I KNOW…I know that God wants me to just rest in Him.  

One of my friends reminded me that God wants me to remain constantly dependent on Him.  I’m not feeling dependent.  I’m feeling crazy, slightly insane, and very, very frustrated.

Looking back I’m hard pressed to say that I’ve made any truly successful decisions on my own in the past 5 years…I know I’m probably being hard on myself, but that’s how I’m feeling right now.  I can’t think of one thing I haven’t looked back on and said, “If only…”

What a lousy way to live.

I’m pretty certain that that is not what God wants me to be thinking…after all, do I trust Him, or not?

Seriously, do I trust Him? 

Because this stress cannot be from Him…and these anxious thoughts and overwhelming fears can’t be from Him.

But how do I stop them?  How do I get past the fear…the anxious thoughts…the exhaustion?

I often pray that God will help me focus on Him…keep to the path…not go to the right or the left when I should be heading forward.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.  Proverbs 4:25-27

I think I get hung up on the “ponder the path of your feet” part.  I ponder…and ponder…and ponder.  Oh my golly I’m so sick of pondering!

I think about everything and how it is going to impact everything else…how things might turn out…how things might impact or affect each of my children…I wonder about how the decisions of the past will impact the decisions I need to make…I wonder what will become of me and my children…will this decision grow their faith…will bad things happen….will good things happen?  Am I ever going to make a decision I’m truly comfortable with?

Once again, for the 40-somethingth year, I’m focusing on my circumstances rather than my Savior….WHEN will I learn this lesson?

I’m looking at my feet rather than directly forward…I’m not looking at Jesus. 

I’m so focused on where I’m going that I forget Who I’m going with. 

I’m so worried about the future that I’m forgetting the Father.

If I truly believe that the Father holds my future…WHY do I worry so?  Why do I get all wiggy about things?

If I believe that He does work all things together for good for those who love Him and who He has called, then I know that no matter what decision I make He will work good. 

So maybe the issue is that I want things to get “fixed” – I want a different situation…an easier life…less complication, more calm. 

I’m not so sure that God’s good is always easier…peaceful yes, but not necessarily easier.

Drat…I wanted easier.

I’m tired of being tired…exhausted by exhaustion…frustrated by frustration…

BUT isn’t that MY issue? 

God doesn’t say I need to do something or live a certain way without providing a way to do it.  There has to be a way to live like more than a conqueror even in this place I am.  A way to count it all joy…

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

I never noticed the words “full effect” before…I mean I never really thought about them.  I think maybe what that is saying is to let life happen and grow from it.  That makes sense because steadfastness also means patience, perseverance, endurance and fidelity. 

Maybe part of counting it all joy is allowing the trials to happen…living the life of trials without trying to fix something that is not within our power to truly fix. 

Maybe we are to patiently allow it to work in our lives…allow the trials to mold us…to make us complete.

That really wasn’t the answer I was looking for…I was hoping for something more like: “Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, because God’s got the quick fix.”

So I’m back to…do I trust Him?

Do I trust His timing?  His provision?  His care of my children?  His plan for my life?

Do I trust that He can work through any decision I make? 

Do I trust that He can do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine…but that might mean it doesn’t look at all like I’d hoped but it will still be good?

Do I trust Him to love me regardless of my mistakes and missteps?                                        

Do I trust that He will lead me?

Do I trust Him?

I do trust Him even though at times I don’t understand what He is allowing or doing or not doing at all.

I do trust Him even when I desperately what Him to fix things for us and His timing is very slow in my estimation.

I do trust Him even when I feel like I can’t bear one more decision…one more heartache…one more difficulty…one more broken anything.

I do trust Him when I can’t provide for my children like I’d like to.

I do trust Him when things don’t go the way I thought they would…and my way seems soo much better.

I do trust Him that He is leading even though I haven’t gotten any lightning bolts with memos attached…no GPS from God…no heavenly updates on the plan.

I do trust that He loves my children and is working in their lives.

I do trust that He will always love me.

I do.

Wow!  That really helped.  Listing all those things…that gives me some perspective.  It is much easier to rest in that trust when I remind myself of it.

Actually the best thing was reminding myself of the object of my trust…

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

So the decisions I need to make…particularly the biggest one…I will pray, seek Scripture, seek some counsel…but I’m going to trust that my Father has prepared me to make wise decisions.  I’m going to trust that He will work in my life whatever I decide.  I’m going to trust that I cannot step outside of His sovereignty. 

Now THAT gives me some peace.

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27

6 Comments »

Did I Get This Right?

I’ve been longing to write for weeks…feels like months…

stack of books in a library
About 7 months ago I began taking classes in order to get my teaching license and hopefully a Masters in education (I don’t even know how to write it – Masters, masters, Master’s or master’s – and is education capitalized?). I’m enjoying the classes, but I absolutely haven’t mastered the workload.

These past few weeks it’s been way too much and I’m feeling it. I kinda just realized that I added a HUGE thing without taking away anything…I shouldn’t have done that. And now all I can seem to do is 2nd guess every decision I’ve made.

I think things like:

“Did I run ahead of God’s plan for me?”
“Have I missed the opportunity to write a 2nd book?”
“Am I giving up the ministry God gave me for this?”
“Am I not trusting God to provide for us?”
“Am I doing the right thing for my children?”

My children.

I have one sweetheart that hates the fact I’m going back to school. The rest are okay – definitely not ecstatic, just okay.

I’m trying to get on top of things, but I’ve been in front of the computer screen or with my nose in a book and highlighter in hand more often than not.

I’m getting up before the crack of dawn and going to bed long after the sun has set and I still find myself feeling like I’m behind. Why is it taking so much out of me?

I just wonder sometimes.

I made this decision in order to be able to provide for my family. I also really want to get the tutoring one of my children needs and help them with college if I can. It’d also be awesome to have retirement and benefits.

I just don’t know if I’ve done this right.

Sometimes I wonder what in the world I’m doing…in everything.

Am I making any good decisions?

Even my daily decisions seem suspect at times. How come I can’t get things done or manage my household well? Rarely do I feel successful at the whole house manager thing…and I’m dreadfully tired of survival mode.

I never imagined how difficult it would be to live this single parent life. It is a million decisions, big and small, and there just isn’t any one to share the responsibilities or lighten the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual load. But God has allowed me to be here.  He hasn’t called me to something He will not give me the grace to do. So what do I see as my calling in this season?

It’s kinda obvious I guess – it’s being Mom.

So how do all the other things fit into my Mama calling?

Taking care of my home is a never-ending chore, but this house provides a refuge for us. And within these walls my children are loved, trained and nurtured.

Writing is my “free” therapy! And it provides me with an outlet, some great blessings, and the opportunity to comfort with the comfort I’ve been given.

My classes…ugh. Other than providing me with the opportunity to accumulate stress and sleeplessness, they have the potential to help me better provide financially for my children and myself both now and in the future.

I guess those classes aren’t so bad – they have promise for the long range, but I’ll tell you, in the day to day my fanny is getting kicked.

Honestly, I’m just overwhelmed and fussy…I know I’m blessed to be taking classes. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to provide for my family. I’m blessed to occasionally get to write.

I am blessed.

Maybe instead of fretting, I will pray that God will enable me to do all that He has called me to do. That He will give me wisdom on what can slide so I can focus on the most important 5 things in my life. That He will give me some rest…some much needed rest.

I think during this season, I’d also like to ask God to shine His love and peace through me to my children. Today I wasn’t so much about peace…I was so much about panic.

What am I doing? How in the world am I going to get all this done? Will my children ever notice the mess around them and help? Have I made the right decisions? How many things have I forgotten to do today?

But I do trust God…I guess the problem is I don’t trust myself. But I have the Holy Spirit to guide me so what am I worried about? God will use my decisions in some way for His glory and my good…no matter how goofy they are.

I trust Him. I trust that sinful me is loved by Holy Him.

I trust that He will always, always love, forgive, provide for, and be with me.

I trust that He is going to take care of my children.

I feel a deep, deep sigh at that.

I’m so thankful…yup, even this 2nd guessing self is feeling some peace. God is good.

12 Comments »

Are You Feeling Toddlerish? I Have Some Fruit That Can Help.

Image

It’s official.  I’m 5 years old.

I’m fussy.  I’d like to stomp my feet.  I could plop down on my bum and cry.

And I definitely don’t feel like sharing.

I feel like I’ve shared quite enough already.

I’ve long said…well, 5 years long…that it’s important not to make our children feel badly about spending time with their other parent.  And for the better part of these 5 years I think I have succeeded.

But lately, I feel exceedingly irritated about sharing my children.

I think part of the problem is…well, actually there are a lot of parts to the problem.

One part is that I wanna be the fun parent.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the chores, homework, budget, real life living stuff parent.  It’s an age old divorce problem – invariably one of the parents is fun-parent.

But I wanna be a fun parent! (I think I’m digressing – I’m now 2)

And right now I just can’t pull it off.  I’m praying and trying to figure it out.  Honestly, up until just recently…very recently…I hadn’t even thought to ask God to help me find time to play with my kids.  Unfortunately I’m the mom on the culdesac that sits on the curb with a textbook or the laptop…or that takes advantage of them playing outside to get something done inside…or who is sometimes just too tired to race around like I used to L.  I don’t want to be the old tired busy mom…I wanna be fun mommy!

I love the way my children’s eyes light up when I actually stop what I’m doing and pay attention to them. When I get into their world and play.  Lord, please help me find time to do that!  Like today.

So back to my toddler issues…

Another part of the problem…you know what?  There’s no reason for me to go on and on about all the parts of a problem.  Because really it’s my choice to let things be a problem…let my emotions decide my reaction.

So how do I NOT do that?  ‘Cause emotions are very tricky things.  Very.  And I have a LOT of them!

I have emotions, but I also have the Holy Spirit.

I know the Holy Spirit is stronger than all those emotions I feel.  God has called me to love others…even the difficult ones…therefore I know I’m equipped and I suspect that the fruit of the Spirit is a big part of that.

So how do I apply this to my life…to my toddlerhood?

How about each fruit in turn…

Love      Kinda feel like this is an obvious one.  Love one another.  Love your enemies…so I suppose that means I’m supposed to love my children’s father.  The question is what does loving that man look like when I really don’t want to interact with him if possible?

As is so much of this life, it’s choosing to do the hard thing.  Choosing to love when it seems like the obvious choice is to dislike immensely.

For me, it’s being willing to talk when I want to avoid. It’s being willing to smile when I want to glare.  It’s being willing to overlook an offense…or many.  To turn the other cheek.  To speak kindly.  To love like Jesus loves…without condition.

Joy is totally dependent on my relationship with the Lord.  There is a direct correlation between my abiding in Christ and the fullness of my joy.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  John 15:9-11

This joy isn’t because my circumstances are great now, but because my circumstances will be great when I’m with Him.  (John 16:22)  This joy isn’t because life is easy, but because He carries me through this life.  This joy isn’t because I’m happy, it’s because I’m loved.

Practically speaking, how much joy of the Lord am I displaying to my children or my ex if I can’t make the effort to be kind and smile at times?  I need God’s strength to do this joy thing…to love when I don’t wanna.  God says His joy is my strength.  In Him I have the strength to live a godly life…a life marked by joy.

Joy looks like me focusing on Christ not my circumstances.  It means being Christ-like in my attitude about sharing my children.  It means that I smile and thank God for my children being able to visit with their dad regardless of how it makes me feel.

I can’t tell you how often I pray that God will give someone His peace which passes all understanding.  (Philippians 4:6-7) There are so many life situations in which it seems like it would just be near impossible to feel any peace…but God gives peace regardless of situations, circumstances, and people.

He actually gives a formula for peace…two steps…thanksgiving and prayer.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:5-7

I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention to the beginning of that first sentence – The Lord is at hand.  It’s that abiding thing!  AND it’s a reminder that Jesus is coming back!  How wonderful is that!  We have peace because we can be thankful for Him in our lives, for the hope of our future inheritance, and for the many blessings He has faithfully provided.

Peace for me looks like this…”Lord, thank you so much that my children have a father, however imperfect he is. Lord, please give me the strength to live in such a way that you are glorified even in my relationship with him.”

Patience…I’d almost like to skip this one…

So in looking up verses on patience I found one that applies…ugh.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26

Patiently enduring…I’m pretty sure that phrase says it all.  I believe a big part of patiently enduring is also trusting that God will indeed work through this whole difficult situation.

Along with that phrase I see kind and gentle…those are Spirit fruit as well.

Kindness – The verse above in 2 Timothy says to be “kind to everyone”.  Not just the people who we enjoy being kind to, but those who don’t necessarily deserve kindness from us.

The one thing I will say is that God doesn’t call us to suffer abuse from others…please don’t put yourself in an abusive position.  Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is stay away.

When I first thought of kindness I thought of Romans 12:18-20

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Might be the wrong motivation but heaping some burning coals sounds like fun…just kidding (sorta).  Although the idea is that there is a possibility your kindness will bring them to repentance…God’s goal is always salvation.

And that should be ours as well…it is not ours to avenge or judge, but rather to allow God to use us.

Goodness – So seriously, this has been the neatest study for me.  I keep seeing the connectedness of Scripture.  If you read the next verse in Romans 12, it is,

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21

God calls us to live an honorable life so that those who would speak against us will see the good we do and glorify God.  (1 Peter 2:11-12).  The goal of goodness is the gospel.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:9-10

This verse reminds me of love and kindness…they are offered to EVERYONE.  There is just no getting around it.  I guess we all have to pray about what that means for us and our ex-spouses.  I think we can all come up with a way that we can do good without putting ourselves in painful situations.  Maybe doing good just means holding our tongues.  Maybe doing good means praying for that person.  Maybe doing good means acting just as we would want our children to act toward a school chum who is less than stellar.  Maybe doing good requires some thinking outside of the box…

Faithfulness – One of the things that has most profoundly impacted me is God’s faithfulness even when I’ve been anything but faithful.  The struggles I’ve had have been real and difficult and I have fallen many more times than I thought possible.  And everytime…everytime…God has faithfully picked me up again…and again…and again.  He has offered me love over and over and over.  Do you see the pattern?  God doesn’t give up on us!  I’m so thankful for that.  And you know what, God hasn’t given up on my ex either.  His choices haven’t excluded him from experiencing God’s grace.

As I ponder God’s faithfulness to me, I feel compassion for my ex and that makes me want to pray for him…for him for his sake and the sake of my children.

Gentleness – I found that most of the verses dealing with gentleness were about how we deal with people who are not walking with the Lord.  Again, God’s goal is restoration.  He set the example.  Jesus was gentle and humble in heart.

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

As I read that verse, I’m reminded that the burdens I carry, both the ones put on me by others and the ones I heap on myself, can be given to Him.  I can let Him deal with this situation and I can trust that as I strive to be like Him, He will work in this for my good and His glory.

…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:1-3

Self-Control – Yet another one I’d like to avoid…self-control is something I do not want to be tested on!  I feel like daily I mess this one up! Especially if it is measured by the words that escape my lips.

The one thing that jumped out at me from the following verse in Titus was the word “training”.  God’s grace is training us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives…it is a process of faith and trust.  It is the gospel.  I desire to live this way…to be trained to live this way…because I’m so very thankful for what Jesus has done for me and what He continues to do for me.  And my future hope is my motivation to hang on through the training.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Titus 2:11-14

I think self-control looks like me not acting as the world would see fit, but rather as God has called me to walk – in the fruit of the Spirit.

This blog was waaaaayyyy longer than I planned, but  I hope it blesses you.  I’ve been so thankful to go through these verses and see how God has worked them all together.  And I’m going to continue to think through how to practically apply the fruit of the Spirit to all aspects of my life, but particularly my “toddlerish” attitude toward sharing. :)

5 Comments »

A Father’s Love…

 

photo (26)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.

It’ll be my first Father’s Day without my dad.  He passed away in September.

Dad was an amazingly humble man.  Generous.  Honorable.  Loyal.  Sacrificial.

Dad was a West Point grad, an Army officer who served his country with distinction, a loving husband for over 60 years, and a father to 4 children.

He didn’t brag of his awards or achievement – in fact, many I didn’t find out about until after his death.

I have many fond memories of my dad…the time he called me up during college and sang, “I just called to say I love you!”  The summer we spent together performing with a summer stock company.  Watching him putter around in the garden or garage.  His affection for the beauty of a clock.  Playing a game of tennis with him…and him always yelling to me over the net, “Don’t forget your follow-thru!” or “Stronger wrist!”

At various times in my life I would walk with him and talk about things.  He was a good listener.

His last few years of life here on earth were rough for this man’s man.  He struggled a lot.  And although he had accepted the Lord in his 70s, he wrestled with his faith during his last year.  He wanted more answers than we could give.

He finally came to the place where he just wanted peace…God’s peace.  He longed to be in His presence.  There was a moment when my sister and I were sitting on either side of him, praying, laughing, and crying a bit.  When both of us were longing for God to allow Him to come home….to truly be in His presence…to know complete peace.  That was not the moment though.

I was blessed to be with my mom and dad on my father’s last night here on earth.  I am at a loss as to how to describe the night.  Death is not natural…it is awful.  Watching my dad struggle…being unable to truly help him was devastating.  I desperately did not want him to die…and yet, desperately wanted him free of that painful, failing body of his.

There was a moment that night when I was holding him and trying to comfort him that is more precious than I can say.  My Dad couldn’t talk well…could barely whisper. (Although he could still utter a quite firm “No!” when he didn’t want us to do something – must have been the military officer in him J)  I said, “Daddy, I love you so much.”  And he whispered, “I love you too.”  It isn’t like my dad hadn’t said it a thousand times before because he had.  But in that moment when I knew every word was a tremendous labor, it meant the world to me.  I would have understood a nod, but I cherished completely those whispered words.

Those were the last words my Dad said to me.  How awesome is that?  I’m so honored that I got to be with him that night.  So thankful that God provided that opportunity.

But as I look forward to Father’s Day tomorrow…I don’t know what to do.  I can tell that it has affected me more than I thought it would.  Today I was invited to a graduation party, a wedding, and a birthday party.  And I feel like all I want to do is hide.  I just want time to think quietly.  To spend with God.

That’s part of this single parent life that is challenging.  Finding the time to be still, to be in God’s presence without interruption, to feel things…with 5 children around all the time, I find it hard to allow myself to truly feel things.  I don’t think my children need to see the depth of my emotions.  That is between God and me.  Today my kids are with their Dad and I’m trying to spend the day with my Heavenly Father.

Sometimes I feel closest to Him when I write…it feels like often He is sitting right beside me.  Reminding me of things.  Opening my eyes to His truths.  Revealing things I need to face.  Soothing my heart.

I’m comfortable in His presence because I know He loves me just the way I am.

 

photo

God loves me just like my dad.   He speaks that love to me in a million ways.  There is so much to be thankful for…my children who bring me to my knees daily in prayer, petition and thanksgiving, my family who loves me, my friends who stand by me, my home, my garden which is thriving despite my black thumb, the beautiful sky which my kids tell me I take way too many pictures of, this sunny, spring day, the sounds of spring outside – lawns being mowed, dogs barking, and birds chirping,  the ice cold Coke right next to me (it’s my fav), the Bible that comforts and convicts me…so many things.

 

photo (30)

I look forward to the day when I can see my Dad again…and I look forward to the day when I will see my Savior face to face and hear His voice say, “I love you!”  And I will hug Him tightly and say, “I LOVE YOU TOO!”

But I can say that now.  In fact, I feel like I should live the day responding to His loving care by saying, “Father, I love you too.”

I’m so thankful that my dad is now with his and my Heavenly Father…and tomorrow when I might be tempted to be sad, I’m going to choose to instead thank my Heavenly Father for loving me so well!

And for giving me a dad here on earth who loved me too.

4 Comments »

The Process of Forgiveness: Steps 1 to 70×7

steps Recently I’ve had a few people tell that if I’ve forgiven my husband I should be in a better place.  From what I’ve heard I shouldn’t be angry at him again.  The only problem with this idea is that I gotta deal with the man and he’s difficult so that’s gonna be real hard.

It isn’t so much how he treats me – honestly, whatever.  But I do have a hard time with how he treats my kids.  So being human, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have to forgive him repeatedly and sometimes I’m gonna even get angry before I forgive.

I think there is this thought that once you forgive you forget and live happily ever after.  I wish that was the case.  It’s really more like this:

Forgive…move forward…something unpleasant happens…forgive again…move forward again…something difficult happens…forgive again…repeat until heaven…

I think if you are to a place that you don’t have to repeatedly forgive an unrepentant person for their continued rotten actions – you rock!  And I mean that! And I do truly wish I could be like you.

But I’m finding forgiveness to be a rather long and arduous process.  But God in his infinite wisdom, grace, love and faithfulness has some instructions and some encouragement for me (and you if you are like me).

I guess the first thing is this

Forgiveness takes time, effort, intentionality and God.

I don’t have it in myself to be a completely forgiving person, but God is utterly and infinitely forgiving and I have Him so that makes all the difference.

God can enable me to forgive anyone, but He also allows this whole forgiveness thing to be part of my sanctifying.  Do you remember how many times Jesus said you have to forgive?  70×7.  (Matthew 18:21-22) His point was that we need to forgive a lot.  Why would He say that we were gonna need to forgive so much if we weren’t gonna need to forgive so much?

I think that if Jesus was just talking about how much we forgive in general he wouldn’t have even needed to say 70×7.  I can absolutely forgive one person one time…it’s having to repeatedly forgive the same person that’s tricky.

In my situation with my ex – forgiveness must be offered without request or repentance.  In fact, I think we have been moving farther away from repentance rather than closer to it over these past few years.  So forgiveness is challenging – and continually choosing to forgive is also challenging (sometimes almost as much as the first time).

In marriage we must continually offer forgiveness.  It is the same in divorce.  But I’m kinda getting the impression from people that it is not okay to have to repeatedly forgive my ex.  That I should forgive and move on already.  (I think that is a message I’m getting about a lot of things, but I will hit that in another post.)

When I forgave my husband’s adultery and then his abandonment I didn’t’ understand the nature of forgiveness…at least not totally.  I kind of expected some warm fuzzies and some serious peace about things…a happily ever after of sorts.  Although I did experience that peace which passes all understanding, it came with a cost.  I had to and continue to have to lay aside my feelings in order to embrace the gospel as it relates to forgiveness.  And boy does it!

God has modeled forgiveness for us…and to us.

Forgiveness requires sacrifice on the part of the forgiver.

God sacrificed His son and Jesus sacrificed His life so that we could be forgiven.  God didn’t want to be separated from us so He made that sacrifice.  So that he could have a relationship with us.  That forgiveness offer is available to anyone who accepts it, but it only changes the nature of our relationship with Him when we accept it.  If someone doesn’t accept it – the relationship is not restored…in fact, there is no relationship.  And that sin still separates and grieves the Lord.  In fact, my sin still grieves the Lord even though I can ask for forgiveness and receive reconciliation.

Forgiveness is offered over and over again.

God continues to forgive me even when I sin repeatedly.  He accepts my repentance every single time.  He never says, “Sorry that is the 70×8 time you’ve done that…we are done.”  Oh my, I’m so thankful He doesn’t.

The difficulty we have…those of us who forgive because we are called to not because it was asked for by the offender…is that we must often deal with repeatedly being offended and continually having to offer forgiveness.

What has helped me immensely is understanding that I have truly been forgiven so very much and that, but for the grace of God, I could be that offender…that person who rebels.  I could be rotten…well rottener.  That gives me a measure of grace for my ex.

I see that often forgiveness is like love…it’s a choice I make, something I do even if I don’t feel it.  I decide I’m going to be gracious and kind and I act that way.  But that gracious kind way might have to come after a little bit of fussiness and anger.

But honestly, to think that the lousy things my ex-husband does are not gonna bug me?  Really.  (Please comment if you have no problem with that sort of thing and tell me how you do it!)

I love my kids and when they are hurting my mama bear comes out…can’t seem to help that.

And that brings me to my second point…

Anger isn’t bad.

It’s what we do with that anger that can be very bad.  Feeling a justified emotion is not a sin, but acting bitterly, unkindly, rudely, and punitively is.

God doesn’t say, “Don’t get angry.”  God says, “Don’t sin in your anger.”

It isn’t a bad emotion, it’s a valid emotion God gave us to signal that something is wrong…something needs to be dealt with.

God gets angry…and I am made in His image.

What about the Old Testament?  God has some righteous anger at Israel…it’s justified and often acted upon but always with the purpose of drawing His people back to Him.   Responding to my anger with the purpose of just simply punishing is wrong, but taking my anger to God and asking Him to give me wise ways to deal with it…that’s good.

I have read back through my blogs and I don’t see that I’m sinning in my anger at my ex-husband.  I admit I have anger towards him at times…again, human.  But I truly am trying to not sin in my anger.

The amazing thing is that God uses my anger to draw me closer to Him.  He’s cool that way.  He uses everything in our lives – if we will let Him – to draw us closer to Him.  He sanctifies us in the most amazing ways.

So despite what some people say or think, I do think I’m in a good place.  I’m forgiven and I’m learning to continually forgive…so far I think I’m on step 659… :)

Father, guard us against being prideful, bitter, and angry.  Soften our hearts, “renew a right spirit” within us, and give us compassion for our ex-spouses (Psalm 51:10).  Please help us be like Christ.  It seems impossible at times, but You tell us that we “can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13), and we ask that You would give us strength to forgive 70×7 times because forgiveness gives us the ability to move forward and enables us to be used by You.  God, help us give our children the gift of a forgiving, loving parent.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Prayer adapted from When Happily Ever After Shatters: Seeing God in the Midst of Divorce and Single Parenting by me :)

14 Comments »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 984 other followers