Lately I have been feeling sad. Not sad about one thing, but many. But mostly because I realize that my life of parenting little ones is coming to a close, and I am entering a new phase of life: Parenting adult children who are making life choices that I do not agree with. And it grieves me in such a deep way, that it has overshadowed every other thing in my life. And it sucks the enjoyment out of the things I used to really love. But, in some weird way, that is a good thing. Because I am learning to see the things that used to be really important as kinda trivial and a waste of time, and the things that I pushed aside are now taking a priority. Let me explain.
I used to spend a lot of time worrying about how I looked. I spent time fixing my hair just so. I washed it every day, even in the winter. I permed, curled, blow-dried, and moussed the heck out of it. I shopped for fabric, clothes, shoes, and accessories whenever I got the chance.
And I scrapbooked. I think I was addicted. I had to have all the latest goodies, and since I was a Creative Memories Consultant, I had to sell them to my customers, too. And when scrapbooking went mainstream, WOW! I amassed copious amounts of supplies.
Then I started stamping cards. And the collection grew to astronomic proportions.
And the china, tea pots, tea cups, and don't forget the tea itself.
I loved me some stuff. And I loved me, way too much.
None of these things are bad. None of them are wrong. But one day, I started looking around and realized that I had filled my life with so much stuff that I loved, that there wasn't time to use it. I had to spend all my time organizing and cleaning up my stuff. I hated to take anything out and make a mess because I had so much it was difficult to get it out or put it away. I had so much that I had to use up that I didn't have time to go out with a friend for lunch. It would take too much time to get ready, and take up time I needed to be doing something else.
But, God is so good and he is teaching me to let go of stuff. It started by a sermon that our pastor preached about the needs in other countries, and how we have so much. I felt God was asking me to do something: Fast from buying myself anything for the next year.
I am six months into it, and I am making some strides in the right direction. And the amazing thing is that, although I held my stuff loosely before this, I now let him hold it. And I have gotten to where I can go in a store and smile and say: "I don't need that. It will just take up space, and I don't want to clean up after using it, and think of how many people can be helped by the money I save!" I admit, I haven't been perfectly faithful. Just this past week I bought something I have to return because, I just don't need it. But as I seek him, he is faithful to help me see, little by little, that it is just stuff, NOT the STUFF of LIFE. HE is the Stuff of Life.
And that is the best thing that has happened is that as I let go of the clutter, I have room for Him. As I stop the busyness, and be still, I am seeing things in His Word more clearly than I ever have, and I am falling deeper and deeper in love with Him. Which I never was able to comprehend before. People would say, "I love Jesus so much" and I would wonder how they got there. And would I ever? In fact, I often thought that I didn't love him at all. Now I realize that you never really know how to love someone unless there is sacrifice. Think about it. All real, deep love is borne out of sacrifice. You love your kids and have sacrificed who you were as a childless, free woman for them. Perhaps you even resent them a little for it. I know I do. But I love being a mom. And your husband. I can't even comment on that one. It is a willing and joyful sacrifice. And thats the way Christ wants us to treat him. After all, look at what he gave up for us. What a willing sacrifice he was for us.
We can love, because he set the standard. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. His life for mine. Yet, He hasn't asked me to go to my death for him. He has asked for me to go to my life for him. Living life with him and for him. And death to my ways, thought patterns and sinful desires. Easier said than done.
Which brings me back to my original thought: (you thought I had forgotten that, didn't you?) Being sad.
How do I not let this sadness take root and overshadow everything with its black canopy? By choosing to live in the joy of the journey and the hope of Him. Job said, "though he slay me, still I will rejoice in Him." Practically speaking,
Psalm 46 lays it out:
"God is our refuge and our strength. An ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, thought the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Theres more, but this is what I see:
God is my refuge. But I have to be still to know it. And the more still and quiet my heart is, the more I enjoy him, and the less I need to seek pleasure in stuff. And as I am still and quiet, I can look at the nations for subtle signs of his movement. I can look for Him at work everywhere. I can see the ways he is exalted in the earth: the trees, the flowers, the seas, the lakes, the rocks. Everything shouts his praise. And the nations will one day, too.
And my situation will change. At just the right time, in just the way HE wants it to. When and where. And not a moment to late, or too soon. So Enough Already! I am going to embrace the moment and live for Him here and now, and rip up the roots of that black weeping willow that has taken over the joy of my heart and forge ahead in the Hope of my tomorrow. Goodnight joy-sucker, Good morning, Joy of the Morning!