So many thoughts are running through my mind at the moment that I can hardly make sense of any of them. So instead of attempting to lasso up a few coherent and clever thoughts to put on paper in a futile attempt to make it appear as if I have life figured out, I’m simply just going to be real.
I’m not okay!
For the last week I’ve received text messages, emails, phone calls, and in person rhetoric that all ask the same question “how are you?” my response is always the same. “I’m good” partly because I don’t want to talk about what isn’t good and partly because I’m not even sure how to talk about it. Finally, I had an epiphany of sorts during a moment of intimate prayer time with the father I received the following truth. Are you ready because this stuff is life changing?
It’s okay, to not be okay!
Yes, you read that right. It is okay to not be okay. This doesn’t mean that I pour out all my dirty laundry on every single stranger that asks the simple question “how are you?” but what this does mean is that I utilize those closest to me. I open up, I share, and I allow them to help me process the multitude of things that seem to hit me all at once. It also means I listen. I have been blessed with some pretty wise, Godly advice giving girlfriends who will not only tell it like it is but also guide me in staying true to who I am. One friend answered a call from me only to find me crying hysterically on the other end and simply prayed with me, probably because she couldn’t understand a word I was saying but knew exactly what I needed. Another friend asked me to breakfast where we sat and she helped me process through some recent events in my life, while not allowing me to fall into a “poor me” mindset. She helped me dig through the mess to find the blessed.
Consider it all Joy
If you’re anything like me this has always been a difficult command to keep. Consider it all joy. How do you consider the dark places, the hurt places, the messy places of life joyful? Today I began my new work schedule, it has been adjusted to meet the current needs of my children. I will now have an opportunity to be home when they get home from school, something as a single mother I haven’t had the luxury of doing since my divorce almost 15 years ago. After about an hour of being at work I received a phone call from my son’s school where they stated that my son’s van was at our house in an attempt to pick him up and found him lying in the driveway having a seizure. He absolutely loves his new school and he will get up and get ready an hour before his van gets there to pick him up just so he can be waiting outside when it pulls up. He doesn’t like to keep her waiting and he fears is he were inside the house when she pulled up he might get distracted and miss her all together. He was waiting in the driveway with his backpack strapped to his back, likely pacing back and forth while listening to music when the seizure hit. Suddenly and unexpectedly I was pulled away from work, this didn’t fit into my plan. So often life’s little surprises don’t fit into “our” plans. My second call of the day was from my daughter who was having a hard time at school and after talking to the school social worker we both agreed that her being at home today would be the best for her. This also didn’t fit into my picture perfect plan. As I got in my car to head home to relieve Clinton’s van driver, and then make my way to my daughter’s high school I noticed a frustration begin to well up within me.
I spoke the following words to God…
“What are you calling me to do?”
which is when I received the words…
“consider 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 ESV
Now don’t misunderstand this verse. We are not being called to consider the actual circumstance itself as joyful. I know as well as any of you that life can be hard and hurtful. Life can be complicated and crazy at times. But it’s when we take a second to dig through the situation that we think we are seeing in order to be able to connect with God on a deeper level it is then that He is able to use all things for good. When I received His response “consider it all joy” I immediately asked “how?” which he then replied with “praise me.” So that is what I began doing. I thanked Him that he has brought me to a place of understanding that I likely couldn’t have achieved had I not spent time in the places I’ve been. I praised him that both my children are highly favored and protected by Him. I praised Him, that in spite of my tendency to disagree that I am the right person for this delicate mission, He chose me to walk this or at times crawl down this road. I praised Him because He has called me out of crowd and placed a crown of glory upon my head, even if I could never do anything to even come close to deserving it. Then something amazing happened. My mood changed from one of frustration to one of joy.
It would be easy for me to spend long periods of time in dark places focusing on the struggles that I face daily but it would never make me stronger. It would be simply to focus on all the ways I feel inadequate but how would I ever be used by God to further His kingdom? We are all faced with multiple choices that we have to make every day. We choose what to wear, what time to get up, and what to have for dinner. For the most part these choices are simply and we do them almost automatically, we know what happens if we don’t plan for dinner, we don’t eat. But I believe that most of us never realize the consequences of not choosing joy in our lives. We don’t realize what we are missing out on when we put the focus on the situation instead of on our savior. We are given so many wonderful promises that are ours to claim when we accept Jesus as lord of our lives, yet most of us never claim them. Today I want to encourage you to claim the following promises…
He makes all things new!
Some scriptures that will help you can find and claim this promise are in Isaiah 43:18-19, Isaiah 65.17, Revelation 21:5, and Ephesians 2:15
He is working all things together for good!
Romans 8:28 ~ I encourage you to read the verses before this and ask the questions what is He working together for good and for who is He working “good” for.
God is for us!
Romans 8:31~ if God is for us then who can be against us?