Are you ready to stop wrestling and start resting?

This was eye-opening for me. In the throes of a deep conversation with a dear friend, I was asked by him to stop and be thankful.  To spend the rest of the conversation thinking about things that we could be grateful for…instead of things that we struggle with…

Can I tell you…it wasn’t easy.  

And I was surprised.  No I was shocked.  

For a few moments I could think of nothing positive to say.

Not. One. Thing.

My eyes welled up with tears, not because I was frustrated with the conversation but because I had allowed myself to reach such a point that I could only see the struggle, only feel the fear, only know the challenges.  

What had happened to me?  How had I gone so terribly astray in my thinking.

Ironically, that very day I had responded to someone’s question about how to be thankful…how could I possibly have given someone else advice when I couldn’t figure out how to be thankful myself.

So I sat on the sofa staring at the floor wondering what I could possibly say.  Thankfully he jumped in and shared…just talked one thing after another…nothing earth-shattering, just daily stuff.

And I thought to myself, “Just start talking.  One little thing.”  It was like trying to change the direction of a freight train speeding forward…without stopping…just whipping that thing in reverse and going for it.  I truly felt that I was  wrestling to regain and turn around my thoughts and my emotions and my whole attitude and perspective.  Good gravy it was hard!

I said, “Well, I’m thankful it was a beautiful day…and for devotional time with Ally that was good this morning…and that my bangs were not cut too short when I got my haircut today…:”  

And then it all changed…

One step…a few words…a whole new perspective.

Fifteen minutes earlier I was frustrated, afraid, and even verging on angry.  Now?  Well, now I’m thankful.  I’m peaceful.  I’m hopeful.

All because he asked us to stop and be thankful.

In all things, give thanks.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

It was an end the madness moment.  And for me…it was more.  It revealed..no, it threw a spotlight on a way of living I have tiptoed around for years.

I talk about choosing joy.  I talk about being thankful.  I talk about peace.  But I keep having to remind myself that I can choose joy, be thankful, live peace, because I haven’t made a decision to do those things consistently for myself.  It’s like I say, “Look at this possibility!  Look at what we can do if we try!”  But then I never really try…I mean try hard.  I have spent so much time taking comfort in the possibility and haven’t experienced the lasting beauty of choosing joy, peace, and gratefulness as a lifestyle.

I realized…actually I remembered something I’ve known to be true for quite a while.  The fruit of the Spirit God talks about in Galatians are already mine.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

God has ALREADY given me joy and peace and a mess of things to be thankful for!  I truly need to choose to live it.

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

When I’m begging for joy and peace, I wonder if God smiles gently and whispers, “Dearest, I already gave those to you. You have all you need.”

And I still request them as if I’d never received them…ever.

Sitting on that sofa, I realized it truly is a choice.  I can choose to see the beauty around me  I can choose to be thankful.  I can choose to stop pouting and start praising.  I can choose to stop trying to be in control and start trusting that God already is.  

God has blessed me with all that I need to live this life joyfully, gratefully, and peacefully. He has given me the Holy Spirit and He has given me friends.  And He has given me this loving friend who is willing to risk my ire to say that we can choose gratefulness in the midst of challenges.

I like it.  I love it.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

Let’s stop wrestling with things, and start resting in Him.  

I know now that choosing to be thankful is all within my power.  It isn’t easy…it can be super challenging to change the way we think, but God gives us all the strength we need to choose well.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

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Am I a minute from angry? Or a minute from peace?

iced tea photo“Momma! Look there’s a tea with the word Relax on it! You should get that!”

“Yes. Yes I should!” I replied.

And although the tea is very yummy and I’ve had several glasses, it has not helped me relax…or I’m just too stressed for words or tea or anything…

I hate being stressed.

I can feel it. It’s an air of impatience…an attitude of annoyance…and a minute from angry.
In the car today my 7 year old kept asking me questions. And each sentence started with “Mama?” And my response was not, “Yes sweetie?”
It was more like a very testy exasperated, “Whaaattt?!”

I’ll give myself a little bit of leeway being that I was driving in traffic on I-95, but really I don’t deserve much at all. I have darling children…even when they are being stinkers.

I have no excuse for being such a fusspot.

My poor children. Even when they were good today, I wasn’t the sweet momma I like to be. And when they were naughty…yikes!!! Everyone DUCK!!!!
And all this fussiness has made me think of how easily it is for me to apply scripture to other people and even to circumstances, but I sometimes forget to apply it to myself especially when I’m persnickety.

So I’m preaching some gospel to myself…

In the past I used to pray daily that God would fill me with the fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to
Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit,
Let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

But then I realized that I already have the fruit of the Spirit in me because I already have the Holy Spirit and He comes with all those beautiful qualities. It’s my choice whether I live them out loud or not.

If I couldn’t do it God wouldn’t say to us through Paul:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to 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

There are some words in there that really convict me…humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace…all words I want to describe my parenting, my family, and my home.

Humility to set aside how bad my day is going so that I can be a kind mom. Just because I’m the stressed out parent doesn’t mean I get to take it out on those precious children God gave me.
Gentleness in my speech and attitude with my children. I’m modeling behavior to my children. I’d love for them to treat each other with more gentleness. I believe that will start to happen more regularly when they see me speaking calmly, kindly, and tenderly.

Patience being my response to all those silly frustrating things that happen when you live with 5 other people. Probably should have taken a few deep breaths before I responded to my children’s disobedience or just plain childishness.

Loving my family even when they aren’t exactly the easiest people to love…goodness knows I needed some of that love today. That verse “bearing with one another in love” means accepting each other and loving one another even when we are not acting lovable.

Unity…being united in our love for one another and our love for the Lord. Being willing sometimes to put aside what we want or how we feel to bless someone else.

Peace is the tone I want to set for my home. Peace that God is with us always…that He will give us strength for the day and hope for tomorrow.

I feel a little better just having opened the Word and reminded myself that I’m not a victim of my emotions or feelings. I can choose to trust that God has equipped me to live a life that pleases Him even on my fussiest of days.