“God is not at all concerned with me being good enough, but completely concerned with my being TRUSTING enough.”
I came across this quote this week while looking through an old journal of mine. I think it is so enlightening to dig back through old writings to help me see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, and even how so many emotions have repeated themselves in the years of my life. This quote came from a sermon. One of those sermons that wrecks your heart. One of those sermons where you wonder how in the world the pastor knew exactly what you needed to hear. One of those “He is talking directly to me” sermons. Looking back, I do not honestly remember what I was going through at the time that made these words hit me so hard. But I do know that the quote resonates with me in a big way today.
Throughout this pandemic/stay at home/lockdown crisis, I have struggled. My emotions have controlled me. I have tried to face this out of control situation and control it. Worry has wrecked my sleep. Anxiety has overtaken my thoughts. Fear has captured my focus. I have been short-tempered with my family. I have spent days crippled by sadness – and then beat myself up for not accomplishing anything. All of this has left me wallowing in that old, lingering feeling that I’m just not good enough. I have allowed the small, powerful “IF” drive me crazy. If I was a better mom….If I was smarter….If I could manage my time better. ..If I could just be better…If I was good enough!
I do not believe that I came across this quote by accident this week. God knew I needed to hear it now. Because God truly does not need my goodness. He doesn’t need to me fight and claw to be good enough…because guess what, I never will be. I will never be “good enough” to earn His love. And that’s a good thing, because His love is offered free. What God does want from me is my trust. He desires that I would let go of the control I crave, and to trust Him with all that I am. He wants me to trust that He is in control. Trust should trump fear, anxiety, worry, and all of the other emotions that do not come from Him.
So, my prayer for today, and for every day going forward is to just trust. I pray to be wholly surrendered to Him and to trust Him enough!
What kind of tree are you? I heard this analogy on the radio just the other day and it has stuck with me. The question has been lingering in my mind for days. I think that there is a reason that certain things stay with us and others don’t. I believe that God places things on us to create teachable moments for us. He. knows what I need and where my heart is, and it is no accident this metaphor is still with me. What kind of tree are you? When someone bumps into you (tree), what kind of fruit falls? I’ll wait while that sinks in…..
When the weight of life becomes crushing. When heartache breaks you. When anxiety paralyzes you. When isolation cripples your soul. How do you respond?
Honestly, let me make it a little less “heavy”…. When someone cuts you off in traffic (do I even remember how to drive?) When your text goes unread. When you are left out of a group gathering. When you get your feelings hurt. How do you respond?
Yep, I got my toes stepped on by this one. I had to do a serious heart check as I pondered this question. What kind of fruit do I bear? When times get hard, I do not always respond the way that I would like to. Anxiety and fear cause emotions and reactions to come out sideways. The fruit that falls from my tree when I’m shaken is not always good fruit. Initially, my reaction to all of this was to beat myself up and wish that I could just “be better.” I did the whole self-loathing thing for a minute, held a pity party for one, and then I quit. I left the party. I will never be perfect. Not. Even. Close. But I can strive each day to become more Christ-like. I can pray and ask and allow the Holy Spirit to produce those fruits in me. I can seek Him first in all that I do. I can fall down and get back up again, knowing that He still loves me and that no matter how many times I stumble, He STILL loves me.
I will always remember this tree metaphor. And when I am “bumped” I will think about what kind of fruit falls.
This sounds good, right?! This is a great “go to” verse when times are hard. These words make for a great, inspirational social media post for those of us who are feeling run down and weak. But do I really believe it? Am I living everyday (in lockdown mode) with this joy? Is my behavior truly reflected in this quote?
As I sit and soak in the word this morning, I found myself dwelling here, in this verse. Lingering on these words in Nehemiah forced me to earnestly check my heart, and not only to ask the tough questions, but also to answer them.
So, I go back to the way I was taught to read and understand the Bible – one word or phrase at a time. Break it down and listen for meaning. Joy – different from happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances or events, and is primarily about MY feelings. It centers around ME. However, joy is a constant. Joy is a contentment of the heart, regardless of happenings and surroundings. Joy is a purposeful choice. This joy is found in the Lord – it is the Lord. And this very joy – is mine! It is my strength. It is what stands in the gap when I am overwhelmed by life. It is there to satisfy my needs when I can’t find my own way. This strength from joy calms my fears, dries my tears, and soothes my spirit – even in the ugliest of circumstances.
It is a promise from the word of God. And I believe with all of my heart that God’s promises are real and true and everlasting. So…..do I believe this “go-to” verse? Am I deeply, truly, strongly “bought in”? YES! I am and I am carrying it with me today and going forward. In this scary, unpredictable world, I will find my strength in the joy of the Lord!
I’ve adopted these words as my motto as I navigate this season. Last Tuesday I was told that as a district we would begin online teaching/distance learning/teaching from home on that Thursday. Thirty-six hours to wrap my head around teaching my curriculum to sixty-four students in a way that I had never done before. I went into overdrive and spent some much energy trying to figure it all out that I pretty much accomplished nothing. At the beginning of every school year I make a promise to myself to do all that I can for each and every one of my students for the 180 days that I have them. And here I have been told to “teach” them from behind a computer screen. I have worked twice as many hours a day since we have been closed then I normally do when we are “in school.” I have not slept a full night. I have worried myself sick. I have eaten a whole lot of comfort food (why can’t I be the kind of worrier who can’t eat…?).
Today, I am having to slow down, take some deep breaths and accept the fact that the remaining time with my kiddos this year is just going to be different. That doesn’t mean it is “worse” – just different. And all I can do is what I can do with what I have right now. I won’t be able to share the laughs and high-fives, but I can send messages letting them know I’m here. I won’t be able to read the books to them that I had planned – with all the voices and animation, but I can record myself reading some of the stories and send them with love. All that I do is what I can, with what I have, right here where I am. And I hope that my kids know that it’s all for them! I encourage everyone reading this to do all that you can for those around you and help them through this season of panic and fear.
Here I sit at my computer, feeling the need to express myself. Feeling the need to process through all that is happening in our world through words. I never imagined in my lifetime that I would be living through a statewide “lockdown.” So many emotions flood my heart and mind. Writing is how I cope. But at the same time, I don’t want my words to be discouraging or depressing. I truly am doing all I can to remain positive. I know that my children are feeling anxious (like me) but I don’t want to feed into their fears. My job is to calm their chaos, not create more. I want to be their safety. When they look to me, I want them to see me smiling and finding the positive in all of it.
Struggling to find my voice this afternoon, I turned to my decade old portfolio and dove in. I found a poem that I think is appropriate to share today.
When I was a kid…
When I was a kid,
My mom gave me a pair
Of rose-colored glasses
They were a gift
And I had to learn to use them
In the dark
You really have to
Focus to see things
In the dark
These glasses, they reflect
And they correct
My distorted vision
I put them on
To find the positive
In every situation
When I was a kid,
My mom gave me a pair
Of rose-colored glasses…
And I never lost them.
Some days I just don’t even know what to think about the world. Schools shut down across the country. Social distancing. (By the way – this doesn’t work with a class of 10 year olds). A run on grocery stores (and toilet paper?!?). PANIC. My mind struggles to sort it all out. My feelings about this COVID-19 crisis are like a giant pendulum. One minute, I am fine, not really worried or concerned about the impact. And then I swing wildly to near hysteria. “What ifs” run rampant through me. And then back and forth. And back and forth. Constantly swinging between “Should I be more worried” and “I am freaking out about this!”
I’m not really worried about myself getting really sick from this virus. I worry for my parents (who still don’t seem to put themselves in the “elderly” category). I worry for my husband’s parents and grandparents. I worry about my 5th graders and not seeing them and pouring into their lives for the next month! (Side note: school let out yesterday at 3:00…since then I have received 10 emails from students). I worry about my 19 year old daughter who is on a girl’s trip with two other 19 year olds. (Do they know what to do in an emergency? I worry about my 22 year old son who is supposed to graduate from college in a few weeks and is trying to finish classes and exams in an unexplored way. I worry about his girlfriend who is a nurse and is working tirelessly. I am fearful for our world. Unsettling is the best way I know to describe it all.
So this morning as I sit sipping (gulping) my coffee in the almost quiet house, I am having to make a choice. I am the only one who can stop the swinging pendulum of emotions. I am choosing JOY. I am choosing freedom from fear. I am choosing to rest in the refuge of the Lord. He is my safe haven.
I prayed to the Lord and he answered me. He freed me from all of my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. No shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed and the Lord listened. He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him!