The Burden of Blessing

IMG_3433Today I am at my home and it is quiet and peaceful and I’m feeling blessed to be here.  The kids are sleeping soundly (and late woohoo!!)  I debated if I should enjoy this blissful quiet asleep or awake.  I opted for awake.  So rarely do I get a moment of solitude and quiet.  I’m so thankful!

For the past 4 months we have been staying with family and I cannot say how thankful I am for it.  But it would be a lie to say it hasn’t been difficult, stressful and exhausting on many levels. And it would definitely be a contradiction of all that I’ve been sharing for the past few months in my blog.  Sometimes blessings can be difficult.  The blessing of a place to stay during our transition is huge, the stress of that blessing is also huge.

Sometimes I wonder if a blessing can’t also be a burden.  I’m sure there are many that will disagree with me because it sounds wrong to say a blessing can be a burden, but I believe it’s true.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I think I’ve known for a long time that I can find a blessing even in my burdens, but I haven’t flipped it around before.  I haven’t realized that my blessings can sometimes be burdens as well.

But the more I’ve pondered, the more I’m thinking this is true.

Parenting is absolutely a blessing, but I cannot deny it is a burden to be sure.  Dealing with my children and the responsibility of raising them well can most definitely be a burden.  A welcome burden, but a burden nonetheless.

As a parent, I burden my children with chores to give them the blessing of understanding the value of work done well, of responsibility, and of being part of a family.  I’m fairly certain that none of them would refer to those things as blessings…well, at least most of the time.

A home is a blessing, but when there are issues it can most definitely be a burden.  Broken things, dripping things, creaky things, wobbly things…just lots of things that aren’t fun, but I’m sure thankful for the shelter.

Work is a blessing, but it seriously can be a burden.

It’s a bit embarrassing to think that at the moment I’m having to remind myself to be thankful for my blessings.

Shouldn’t that be a given?  Unfortunately,  I think it has been easier for me to focus on the burden aspect of the blessing than the blessing part of the blessing.

Maybe I’m throwing that blessing word around too much…but I can’t think of a good synonym for blessing.  Benediction doesn’t really work.  Approval and encouragement don’t really apply either.  Merriam-Webster defines blessing as “something that helps you or brings happiness.”  I suppose saying that something that brings me help or happiness is a burden is a bit odd.

But in God’s economy, maybe not.

I attend a great Bible study on Sunday nights.  The teacher said that when we pray for things, such as patience or courage, God is going to give us opportunities to exercise patience or be courageous. The blessings of patience and courage are going to come with the burden of experiencing situations that require us to be patient and courageous.  (That is one of those think-well-before-I-pray-this-prayer prayers!)  The blessing of being a patient, courageous, kind, or loving person comes with the burden of having to develop those traits.

We have all probably experienced the phenomenon that blessings don’t always come in the ways we expect them.  Many of the blessings I’ve experienced have come by way of difficulties and trials.  Those blessings are some of the most precious.  Just like labor and delivery – the pain and discomfort brings forth a great blessing!

Maybe the housing situation, although difficult, is not just a blessing of shelter, but a blessing of character-building, of refining, of eye-opening.

Maybe a job, although time-consuming and stressful, is not just a blessing of provision, but a blessing of purpose and ministry.

Maybe parenting, although exhausting and overwhelming at times, is not just a blessing of children, but a blessing of understanding the Father’s love for us.

Maybe all the things in our life are so much deeper and richer because God uses everything – those things we perceive as “good” and those things we perceive as “bad” – to bless us both in the present and the future.

I’m blown away right now.  I have been so easily frustrated and upset by things in my life and haven’t been able to see the good in much.  And if I do happen to notice it at all, I’m quickly overtaken by all the feelings of discouragement that keep me from focusing on the blessings for what they are….blessings.  It has been entirely too easy for me to see only the burden and miss the blessing.

I’m not sure that I know exactly how to “fix” myself, but God does.  He has definitely given me some great ideas in His word.

1.Take my thoughts captive.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

2.Do not be anxious. (Philippians 4:6-7)

3.Hide His word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

4.Take heart. (John 16:33)

5.Trust God.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

6.Keep an eternal perspective. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

And once again, I’m brought back to the word of God.  Back to the strength and perspective offered there.  Back to the power of His word…the power of Jesus.

I was reminded recently of one of Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23  – maybe this is the prayer we can pray for ourselves and for each other.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

You know, I just have to include the other prayer in Ephesians 3.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…There really isn’t more to say is there?  What a mighty loving God we serve!

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I Need Therapy…of sorts.

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This is gonna sound funny….but I feel like I’ve written all this before…its like deja vu in blogging – which is weird.   So if I have said this all before, word for word, forgive me please.   It totally is where I am apparently AGAIN.

Right now I should be preparing for my first formal observation or sleeping, but instead I find myself opening a new totally blank Word document.  It has been a long time since I’ve had a moment to jot down any thoughts, but I find myself needing some “writing therapy” badly.

Tonight was a difficult night…there are a lot of those lately…I think I know why.  I know that all these transitions have been very difficult on some of my children and they are acting out.  Unfortunately, all these transitions have been difficult on me and I’m acting out too.

There once was a time that I would consider myself a gentle and patient mother.  Although I’d be hard-pressed at this point to remember when that was.  It just seems like I’ve been living in a perpetual state of annoyance and frustration…which makes me anything but gentle.

I’m finding myself close to tears more than not.  I’m a dam ready to burst.  And I’m afraid of the day that it happens, because the occasional trickling and leaking is pretty discouraging and quite a sight to behold.

There are days I just want to holler, “I can’t do this anymore!”  Not even I don’t want to…I can’t.

Actually, I’ve said that a lot.  God has heard that refrain often over the past few months.  And yet each morning I get up and do what needs to be done…not necessarily with a good attitude and definitely without a lot of sleep, but I do it.  And the only reason that I can is because God enables me to…otherwise I’d be hiding under the covers, no, make that under the bed or in the closet or in the attic…somewhere where I’d be very hard to find.

I want desperately to do the mommy-thing well, the teacher-thing well, the student-thing well, the daughter, sister, friend things well.  I don’t think I’m doing any of them with much success, or consistent success.  I definitely feel like the fussy mommy, the scatterbrained teacher, and the pathetic student, and the nut job daughter, sister friend right now.

I hate to even write that – I feel like I should have a better attitude about myself.  I am God’s precious daughter – not a failure.  It just feels like I am.

But are my feelings accurate?  I don’t think so.  In fact, I know they aren’t.  Even if they aren’t accurate, I do know my feelings well…and they are all over the place sometimes.

I wish that I could figure out how to get out of this funk.  I just don’t see a way.  I don’t see a way for more sleep or rest or even quiet.  I don’t see a way for more time to study, prepare, or assess.  I don’t see a way to spend more time with my children…more calm, fun and less harried, less stressed time.  I don’t see how to get my house ready to sell so I can move into a better living situation.  I don’t see how to do anything easily or quickly.

We are in a difficult living situation right now and I don’t know how to change it yet.  My job is time-consuming (to put it mildly) and sometimes I feel so confused and behind and overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and all that I want to do.  My children all need me desperately and I want to give them so much more than I feel capable of giving right now…I’m running on empty.  (A description that doesn’t match with my dam bursting…how about empty of everything but tears.)

I believe this is a part of single parenting…the difficulty of doing it all.  And, unless you have been a single parent, it truly is hard to comprehend or understand.  Lately, a lot (A LOT) of people have given me advice, mostly unsolicited.  I really would prefer not to be told what I need to change or not change, to think or not think, to pray or not pray, to do or not do, to feel or not feel…honestly, I think I’d rather just pray and read the Word to get that information.  But, I think because I’m single and harried people feel they must help…sometimes that help is so hurtful though.  Just being honest.  (I digress…I believe that last paragraph should be a different blog – but here it is anyway!)

Okay, so now I’ve shared all my fussiness with you, what do I do now?  How in the world do I move beyond this emotional, difficult, overwhelming, and frustrating place?

Honestly, I don’t think I can.

I don’t think that I can change much about my life and maybe I’d feel a whole lot better if I stopped thinking that I could.

I don’t believe that God wants me to spend my time trying to figure out how to get out of the life I’m living.  I believe He wants me to LIVE…live where He has me with His strength, peace, hope and love in my life.

This week I’m trying to remember that my God is sovereign.  Not only sovereign, but good and faithful.  That even though I’d really like to “fix” my situation, I’m beginning…just beginning…to get the fact that I don’t need to fret.  Oh, how I fret!  After all the many ways God has shown himself faithful, I find myself continually twisted up inside like a pretzel…worried, anxious, frustrated.  How and why is that even possible?

I’ve been trying and trying and trying to make things happen, but things don’t seem to be moving forward like I thought they would.  I keep having to wait on things…I hate waiting.  Really.

But tonight…I’m reminding myself that God will only call me to wait if it is best.  And I want best. Best is best.

So tonight, I’m going to bed in a few minutes and I’m determined to sleep more than 6 minutes.  In the morning I’m going to pray hard and trust God’s goodness and timing…but I’m also going to pray hard that things get better, easier, and less stressful.

I can trust Him.  My God is good all the time…all the time!