So, a couple of life-changing events have occurred as of late (well, they’re life-changing to me):
1. Over the weekend, on our way back from Ohio, we stopped at a Waffle House, which I’ve never been to before. Also, I was in my pajamas in a public restaurant. This has always been a desire of mine…I had always pictured it being a Denny’s or an IHOP, but Waffle House was perfect 😀 I had breakfast at a public restaurant in my PJ’s!
2. I have mastered the art of making sausage gravy, which, according to my mother, means I’m now officially eligible to marry someone from the South. She proposed I begin working on catfish and cornbread next, though that particular combination seems very odd to me.
Otherwise, life has been pretty uneventful…unless you count the small crisis I had a few days ago, the ever-present emotional nonsense going on in my brain, and the anticipation of the Brocks coming to visit on Saturday. Yes! The Brocks are coming to visit me and my family on Saturday for a picnic 🙂 But I’ll talk about that in a second. First of all, I wish to encourage you, if, by the grace of God, I can manage 🙂
Today was particularly frustrating, though not hopeless, because I’ve suddenly been reminded that, with God, there’s no such thing as a hopeless situation, even though I may feel like it at times. Nothing major happened, but I was battling in my own head for the majority of the day.
Everyone came home after a normal day. For me the day was a little different, because I did all of the things I would normally do in the house (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc.), not because I was trying to please my mother (though that was certainly part of it) but because I knew it would please God for me to please my mother. What’s the difference? Well, trying to please my mother by my own devices is an exhausting, emptying, and very unrewarding practice. This is not because my mother is particularly demanding or ungrateful…she’s actually one of the most patient and happy people I know, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her daughter…but it’s due rather to the fact that I can’t please my mother unless I’m secure in God’s love for me. Let me explain.
Say a man and a woman are married. They’ve been married for a little bit, only about three years, no children yet. The husband, because he’s a good husband, does his best to please his wife. He buys her flowers when he comes home from work, does the dishes every once in a while, and makes sure he assures his love for her in words of affection and physical affection as well. She’s incredibly grateful for all of these things, and even though she shows her gratitude in every way, her reaction to his loving-kindness isn’t enough for him. Something is missing. He’s doing all of the right things. He’s treating her rightly. But her response isn’t fulfilling or satisfying, even though he can tell she’s grateful. The problem? The husband is trying to fulfill his wife while simultaneously trying to fulfill himself by pleasing her. This fulfillment was never supposed to come from either husband or wife, friend or acquaintance, brother or sister. True fulfillment was only ever supposed to come from God.
Point being that I know of too many Christians (myself included) who bank so much of how they feel and how they’re fulfilled on pleasing others and keeping the peace and being good that they forget the love of the One who gave them the capacity to do good things in the first place. I did everything normally today, but at the end, I knew I’d pleased God above everyone else, not because of what I’d done, but because I’d done it through His love. I know it’s just cleaning the house and keeping it nice, I know it’s supposed to be a simple, monotonous, uncomplicated thing, but it’s important. And I personally really enjoy cleaning 😀
So everyone came home, and everything went swimmingly, if that’s the right adverb to use here. Gracie and I banded together to make dinner, sausage gravy and biscuits (OM NOM NOM). Afterwards, (not only after dinner but also after the cessation of a thunderstorm) we headed to Agnes’s softball game. Gracie and I had thought it would be canceled due to the thunderstorm, but we obeyed Mom nonetheless and went with her to the game. Turns out it was canceled, which meant we would have the entire evening to spend together 🙂
And that we did.
We headed back home and sat in the quietness of the afternoon. I talked to Tyler about the bike he was fixing up. We talked about things, he fixed the chain on Gracie’s bike, and we departed with our cousinly “see yas” and “I love yous.” I spent the rest of my time reading Knowing God and a new book (as if I need more things to read) by Robert Hansen titled Why Can’t Women Understand Men?: We’re So Simple. The book is hilarious, and it does offer some insight to the male mind and how men think. Of course, I’m not a man, so I really can’t say if it’s an accurate assessment 😛 We shall see.
Here’s an excerpt, from an essay about women and their love of chocolate, titled “The Mysterious Brown Confection”:
“The link between the female of the species and that sweet brown confection is one of the great mysteries of life. I like chocolate myself, but I don’t like it the way many women like chocolate. It would be more accurate if the word like was replaced with “love,” “crave,” “adore,” or “passionately yearn for.” I admit I don’t understand the chocolate phenomenon—this being the single thing that keeps me from a total grasp of the ways of women. Okay, I fibbed. There are one or two other things I still don’t comprehend about females. Whew. I feel better now that I’ve cleared my conscience.” —Robert Hansen
It’s a really lighthearted book, full of satire but also full of funny insights to how men and women interact. I don’t know why I picked it up. I suppose it’s because I enjoy learning about how God created men and women so differently and how He made them to complement one another so perfectly. It’s one of those amazing things I’ll never quite get over 🙂
All cheesiness aside, I spent the evening reading. All of us lounged in the living room, breaking the comfortable silence every once and a while to share a funny passage from our books or to make an observation about some random thing. It was nice 🙂 It began to pour down in buckets, thunder included, as we sat.
Mom, while we were sitting in the living room, told me some news that made my heart ache. I had received similar news considering a number of other people that used to be close to me, and it was that final informing that chipped my heart hard enough to really, really hurt. I left to go spend some time with God, just writing to Him, trying to sort out my feelings.
I’ve kept journals for about five years now, large book-like journals brimming with all sorts of everything. To give me some perspective, I grabbed my journal that held the entry for June 3, 2013. When I read the entry, I had to laugh. The very end of it read:
“So here I am, stuck on the edge of anger and frustration, looking over the canyon of positivity, joy, and optimism. Please help me fall forward and jump into the canyon. I can’t do it on my own.”
The preceding entry contained similar thoughts to what I was thinking at the moment. “Nothing is going to change.” “I’m frustrated.” “Emotions are annoying…isn’t there a button or a switch to turn them off?” The craziest part? The circumstances were almost identical.
When I see patterns like this, all I can think is that God is sifting something out of my character, filtering some grievous way out of me in order to use me in a way that’s completely new, and He’s taken at least a year to do so. I’m not sure what it is (the something that just can’t be in my heart for God to grow me as He wants to), but I’m beginning to understand what David was asking when he cried out in Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (v. 23, 24)
I know I’ve written about this before but, because I’ve been through the process so many times, I want to write about it again. God does this thing where there’s something—pride, fear, worry, anger, selfishness, bitterness—that is in my heart, deep inside my heart, that He wants out. He allows frustrations to take hold of me and allows circumstances to fluster me until my only options are to curl up into a ball and give up or to lean on Him. I don’t know what He’s trying to get out, or how much longer it’s going to take until I get it through my thick skull, and I don’t know what He’s preparing me for, but I know it’s for something amazing, something adventurous, and something that’s going to require my own vulnerability underneath the protection of His strength and solidity. I can’t wait to see Him use this experience 🙂
Am I still emotional? Of course. Am I still frustrated? Most definitely. But because I’m a child of God and because my Spirit is not accustomed to remaining in this state for long, I have hope that things WILL change and that God is never idle.
So, the Brocks are coming to visit on Saturday 🙂 I’m leaving with them to stay at their home for a week before heading off to *gulp* Camp BaYouCa to begin my summer as a camp counselor. It’s like going to college for the first time all over again, except this time I’ll be surrounded by other Christians. That’s kind of reassuring in a weird way, but oddly discomforting at the same time. I’m not really sure what God was thinking when He made this whole camp-counselor-thing happen, but He must know what He’s doing and He must be preparing to use it for something or else it wouldn’t have happened. Regardless of my doubts, regardless of my fears and worries, God is still sovereign, He’s still good, and He’s still totally in control. I know it’s a cliche and it may seem like a cop-out, but the Truth is nevertheless in these things. He IS good and He IS in control and He IS sovereign, whether the words feel worn out or not.
God’s got this…He always has.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” —Proverbs 19:21, ESV
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
—Romans 8:28, ESV