I just read a blog about how having three children is a whole other universe to having two children. I agreed with it but laughed a little. Well, maybe a lot. It could have been one of Calvin’s maniacal laughs really but it is morning and Andrew decided it was going to be a mischievous day for him. It really hasn’t been more than an hour since he has woken up and I am already on the verge of calling in some reinforcements.
I have read from a lot of folks on Facebook recently complaining about this and that. Life really. Colds are pretty common this time of year but for some reason, people will complain about each and everyone of them like it is national news. Bad days at work happen, children will be children and drivers will be drivers.
I suppose my point is what is the point? Is it a contest to see who has the most woes? Who is the most stressed? Does someone win a prize for the most struggles in life? I am not trying to be insensitive, I am not immune to struggles and I realize all of us have times where we really need prayer.
I recently had a rough go of things when my son had a seizure. A big one right before me and it hit me hard. It is a devastating thing to watch. I was so worried that he was not breathing and if this went on for too long that he would have permanent brain damage. That plus the Christmas activities and some responsibilities with it and I lost it. Do you know what sent me over the edge? Complaints. Not the Facebook complaints, complaints from people who weren’t happy with me and my husband for some reason or another. We made mistakes and we failed to come through for someone. A valuable lesson but a painful one that’s for sure.
I never cried like that in all my life. I yelled at God even, while my 15 yr old cried in the back seat of the van while I took them for a drive. He was hitting his head badly and he already had a black eye from a fit on the last day of school. When he wasn’t hitting his head, he was biting his wrist or hitting the window. I thought he would break it (he has done that before). My 14 yr old also then began to cry and before I knew it, he started to hit his head. I yelled at God and I cried uncontrollably while trying to drive home to get some help and a helmet for Andy.
It was a horrible couple of days leading up to Christmas but I mustered up some cheer to try and make it an enjoyable one for my family. Thankfully it was a low key Christmas and the boys did enjoy themselves and I calmed down a bit.
Then some very good friends of mine came over for a visit. These friends are refreshing for me. They have no kids, they have ministries like us but they are real and are cool with us being real around them, and they don’t expect anything from us. Just to be able to sit and chat. That is so nice! They brought a gift with them. The husbands have this best friend gift exchange thing going on and have for years. It was some chocolate, how did they know? Well the wives have a chocolate thing going on and have for years too, teehee.
I was immediately interested in this one remembering my recent struggles and the time I found Andy in his room in the middle of the night playing with broken glass from his window and there was blood everywhere. I took it and read it that night.
After reading it, I felt like I had the answers I needed. Of course in the thick of a trial, there is always the question “why?” and “how” do I get out of this? But this book helped me understand that we are never promised that we would be free from woes, that we would get miracles on request or that we would have a supernatural impermeable emotional forcefield. Jesus cried, was angry and was disappointed. Why would we not also feel those emotions? The book helped me to understand that I would still continue to have my emotional times and my struggles and woes. That things are not going to change for me but that everything that I needed and would ever need was satisfied the moment Jesus said “It is finished”. Everything I need is in the person Jesus. His work on the cross and His grace.
From the book there was a quote from Tim Keller “Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God.”
I was putting a lot of stock into approval from friends, and the good things in life. I am that optimist and I think that became my pitfall because I was always looking for the good things to cheer me up. I was devastated when people were disappointed in me and when the bad things outweighed the good things. This rough time pointed out to me that my source of joy was in the stuff and not the giver of the stuff and that is where I robbed myself of the kind of joy that remains through anything. The joy of my saviour, the word of God in the flesh, the perfect sacrifice and source of all grace. Unconditional Love incarnate! His work on the cross was completed and so I can not carry the burden of my sins anymore. The burden of disappointing others is no longer mine! I am no longer responsible for another person’s happiness except in meeting the needs of my family and enjoying one another. And I can dispense of grace instead of being disappointed myself.
I am free from those burdens and it feels really good!
I will likely need to be reminded over and over again, in the thick of trials, that it is not the “why” or the “how” but the “WHO”! So that is why I have little sticky notes up on my desk, etc.
So this New Year’s, my suggestion to you is to make a resolution to forget about needing the good things and focus on Jesus, you won’t be disappointed! And for the fun of it, I will throw in a Stop Complaining in there too.