I woke up this morning at 6am to my Sully screaming for “Mum Mum Mum Mum!” After breastfeeding him back to sleep in the sofa chair, I had to let our new puppy outside to pee (oh yeah! We got a new puppy!), and by then it was 6:40am, so I figured I would just stay awake at this point and try to write something. And maybe it is the puppy biting my ankles or pulling on the charging cable to my laptop, or maybe it’s the 6 hours of broken up sleep throughout the night, or the fact that it’s the FIRST TIME in a couple weeks, I’ve had a moment to breath and just be me, but the words are just not coming to me. So I pray and ask God to lead this where he may...
I opened the morning up with prayer and my daily devotional, just as I’ve been doing every day for the last 2 weeks. I made a choice after seeing Beth Moore preach at the Living Proof Live event in Cincinnati, that I was going to make time for God and time for His word. Beth spoke about how she wakes up every morning and sits out on her front porch and reads the bible. That imagery of watching the sun come up and being filled by truth and light really spoke to me. While on vacation in Cocoa Beach, I often woke up early to sit out on my balcony and watch the sunrise over the ocean. Never have I felt more connected to the Earth and happy for the start of a new day. So, I decided then and there that this was something I was going to start doing for myself and for my relationship with my creator.
I also hadn’t realized until that event, that my mind had been in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety. After all, I had been to therapy. I had gone back to the gym - started eating better. I was taking care of me more. I had conquered THIS, right? Wrong. For days leading up to the event, the enemy worked to make sure I would not receive the message. I was riddled with fear of leaving Solomon for 2 days. I had enough milk frozen for maybe 2 bottles, not that he needs them any more, but he still feeds for comfort, especially at night. I didn’t want him to think I had abandoned him. On top of that, I was going on this trip with a handful of women from my old church that I hadn’t seen in quite some time, so I feared being the “outsider” of the group. It had been so long and I had grown so much in my walk with Christ since last they’d seen me.
I don’t know if anyone else ever feels this way when you go home after a long time away. When you run into old friends or acquaintances from high school or a past job. It’s the fear of people seeing you in that old, vulnerable skin. Like, you know who you are now, confident and happy in your life, but somehow going back home means facing who you used to be and how you used to feel and the fear that everyone there still sees you differently. Does that make sense?
I knew these women at the beginning of my walk with Christ. It was a time, I way over shared about my past and opened up to them like someone who needs a therapist, not a friend. I felt like I needed to be known and they couldn’t really know me without knowing all the dark, ugly things that led me to church and brought me to Christ. I never felt truly comfortable in my own skin. All of it had nothing to do with them; they always treated me kindly and included me in discussions, encouraged me to speak and applauded my input. It was me and my insecurities. Maybe I saw them as living these charmed lives, and I was just a project to be fixed. You know… sometimes you meet people that are so broken that you want to keep them at arms length, but you also want to minister to them and help bring them closer to Christ? I told myself that I was this person. The enemy told me that I wasn’t enough, and I believed him. I felt like they couldn’t possibly understand me, or like me, and so I had to try so hard to fit in.
When I moved to Newark, I begged God to connect me with good christian women. That I could make friends that would accept all the mess and with whom I could be myself without fear. I drove back and forth from Newark to Pickerington, Newark to Westerville, Newark to Grove City, all week long to connect with old friends and was not fully committing to my life in Newark. I was scared. I had started my journey at this church and with these people and even though I heard God telling me to make the move to Engage, I wasn’t sure I was ready. These people know me! They know my mess. If I move, it’s like starting over. What if I’m rejected? What if I still don’t belong? …
I learned this week that to live an abundant life… to thrive in your chaos… We have to make a choice. I can continue to ask “What if” and wallow in fear and anxiety OR I can CHOOSE to trust God and believe that he IS working for my good. We almost lost our newborn niece a couple weeks ago, and I was crying in the car on the way home one night, just gripped by grief for my sister and how God could allow something like this to happen. And Evalee asked me, “mommy, why are you so sad?” and I replied, “because death is sad. I am just so sad that Edie may die.” and what she said to me next, I will never forget. She said, “But mommy, what if she doesn’t?!” and when I didn’t reply right away, she just kept saying it, almost yelling it at me. “Mommy?! What if she doesn’t?! What if she doesn’t!!” The way she saw the situation shook me. I was focusing on the negative, focusing on the likelihood of pain and sorrow and suffering, and my four year old was focused on the power and awesomeness of God! What if she doesn’t die? It was like God speaking to me through her. Her little voice, booming and begging me, “Trust ME! Why can’t you just trust me? Don’t you know who I Am - what I’ve done before? What I am capable of doing now? What if I save her? What if she doesn’t? Trust me!!”
Too often I choose fear and let worry take over my day to day. It’s when I wake up to a messy, dirty house - clutter in every corner, on every counter - dinner plates from the night before still sitting out on the table - and laundry piled up so high on my living room couch that you may not even notice the fireplace behind, that I choose to start my day off with negativity and allow the enemy to dictate who I am. “This is so terrible, I’m terrible. Why can’t I just get ahead? Why can’t I keep up? I am not enough. I am not a good mom. How do other people with more kids do this and I can’t. I just can’t” on and on and on I go, and that sets the tone for the entirety of the day. But no more.
The day I chose to fully commit to my life in Newark - the day I chose to firmly plant both feet in Engage Newark Church and trusted God to sew all the pieces of my life back together like the tapestry artist that he is, was the catapult to an abundance of joy and life long friendships. The day I left Beth Moore, I chose God again. I choose to believe that no matter what may come, I will look to Him first and trust in his plan and in his hands that never stop working for my good. Like all things with faith, it is a journey. I have not just arrived at some holier than thou location. My life has not instantly changed. It is a daily choice. A moment to moment choice. To be able to recognize when I am experiencing fear and anxiety, and then turning my eyes to the Lord and to his word. Choosing joy when I want to choose doubt. In just 2 weeks, it has made such a huge impact on my every day.
What is it in your life that is bringing you stress and anger? What is holding you back from living life in abundance? Hand it over. Tell God you believe he is able. I pray today that you all can wake up in joy with me. Already clothed in light and holy armor. Ready to conquer your day.
I don’t know where the doubt starts to creep in. I know it starts as something small, something insignificant. And you make allowances because “it’s not a big deal,” and you’ll, “just do better tomorrow.” Which is all good and well until 2 weeks later, that one time has become a daily routine and now you’re drowning in the amount of small stuff. Did you forget to wipe the counters? do the laundry? Did you put off cleaning the babies breakfast tray, because you were in a hurry to get everyone out of the house, but now it is a new day and the oatmeal is hard and stuck like glue? It happens to me all the time.
I’m the worst with food. Sugar is a drug and one that I am sorely addicted to. It is also something that I have built a habit around when things feel out of my control. What I turn to when I’m down or overwhelmed or stressed. What I look forward to at the end of a particularly long day of screaming toddlers asking millions of questions and housework and work work and responsibility. I put my beautiful babies to bed and then it’s me time! I pour that gorgeous glass of wine and a few cookies as I watch all my guilty-pleasure television I’d be too embarrassed to watch with my husband and kids around. Just me and a giant bowl of cheerios while I watch the drama unfold on Bachelor in Paradise. Once in a while, it is a wonderful addition to the end of my day, but somehow festers and before too long, I’ve forgotten all about my goals and fitness aspirations. My brain falls into a sugar-coma, where the devil whispers in my ear things like, “You aren’t capable of that goal anyway.. You are going to fail.. You are going to let yourself down.. and How embarrassing will that be when everyone knows how worthless your word is?!” and it goes on and on and on! So I eat another cookie and pretend it won’t matter in the long run, after all, I’m still making progress. Excuse after excuse, as long as I don’t have to self-regulate. As long as I don’t have to deny myself that instant gratification. As long as I can numb myself to my current stressful or overwhelming situation.
Obviously, the Devil is the King of Lies. All of that negative self talk and put-downs - It’s all LIES! I know this. I know I am able and capable. The problem is my faith in the one who created me. Do I believe that I am good, like he says that I am? Do I believe that He can take a blind man and make him see? That He died for my sin, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father God?! If I truly believed that Christ is who the Bible says He is, then I would not doubt His ability to see my goals to fruition. I have not handed over the struggle. The panic and anxiety. The feelings of being trapped inside my skin, afraid to speak the words, “something’s got to give,” because I need to be everything to everyone. I need to be in control in an out of control world. I don’t know… Are any of you like this? I just can’t let God have it. All of it. Because, I trusted Him with my friendships and some of those friendships are over. My second mother, Marcy, trusted Him with her children, and my friend… her son… was killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way down a freeway. People die every day from starvation, cancer, addictions. Kids are raped, sold, and enslaved. If God is in control, why does he allow those things to happen?
And the doubt seeps in...
I begin to ask “Is God even listening? Does he even care? He must care, right? Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." It says to bring EVERYTHING to Christ, even the small stuff. I honestly feel shame bringing little things to Christ. My four year old having issues listening today, having to tell her five times to stop and then screaming at her before she decides to listen - How does that compare to someone else's prayers to become pregnant or to save their dying child from Cancer? How does God pick and choose what is good and what is right and what is just? Why do some receive miracles and others don’t. I think God will see my tiny parenting woe and see me as ungrateful. After all my kids exist and are healthy. I asked for them, prayed for them, dreamt about being a mom since before I can remember, and now I am Mean Mommy. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for my answered prayers.
But, my friends, God is God. I am trying to put God in a box. I am trying to define God, the creator of all things, by a human dictionary, and see Him, who knows all and sees all, through a human lens. Isaiah 55:8-9, says it more clearly, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,’ declares the Lord, ‘For the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” We cannot put God in a box. He is far greater and immense and beyond all understanding. He is powerful, mighty, and altogether Holy. All to often, we see God through Christ and his humanness, but Christ is God incarnate. Isaiah 40:28 reads, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? 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.” That sentence: He does not faint or grow weary! God does not sleep or rest. He is constantly working in our lives, behind the scenes, even when we don’t feel Him or see His works laid out for us. Even in the darkest of times. Even during the struggle.
The problem with being human is wanting to know everything and have it all right now! At least I do. I want to feel like I have order and control, because then I won’t fear. But friends, life is scary. We cannot exist in this life without fear. Disorder and chaos are simply God’s tools for creation. He is working for our good on a timeline far beyond our need for the here and now. In Priscilla Shirer’s book, God is Able, she writes, “Just because you can’t see it or feel it or tell your friends about it right now means only one thing: not that He’s unable, but that His sovereign love is acting right this moment out of sight and without your knowledge. Because His love (as Psalm 136 says) is eternal. Way bigger than just right now. And being willing to trust this truth is part of what believing in His ability is all about.” Nothing is too small to bring to God. He is able. It just might not happen in the time frame we want and expect, or it may not happen at all - and in that situation, we must remember that God is still God. We must choose to rest and choose peace, handing over that terrible, seemingly unanswered, right-now prayer to God and knowing God is still working for your good in all the current ugliness.
Let it rest. Let go and let God. Step away and look up to your creator. LIke Psalm 121:1 proclaims, "I lift my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
He is able.