Monday, April 29, 2013

Heavy Hearted

My heart has found many reasons to be weary this past year. I have cried tears. Battled fears. Questioned the future of relationships. Sought answers. Been silent. Pleaded for miracles. Dealt with anger and unforgiveness toward others. Feared. Felt isolated and alone. Supported. But through all these heavy moments and thoughts, none of them resulted over any difficult situations directly in my own life. The emotional weight has been for those I love.

bear one another's burdens

Galatians 6:2 became a reality for me. It’s simple and short: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. One loved one has dealt with false accusation and misrepresentation while another has been desperate to make some sense of his puzzled mind. A friend is in a season of deep grief as loved ones passed away within weeks of each other. A usual rock in my life has needed my strength and support as frightening moments overwhelmed her. A friend from college is facing a devastating diagnosis for her son. I see people deeply grieved by broken relationships. I’ve stood next to them, whether they knew it or not, shouldering some of their burdens. Lifted them in prayer. Ached deep within me for their pain. Longed to be a source of encouragement. Simply felt heavy hearted for them.

While I feel a great sense of contentment for where God has me, these twelve months have whittled away at some of the day to day happiness that used to mark my life. I delight in my children while wishing I could set the world straight on a few things. I laugh at a funny moment with my husband while also feeling my heart plead with God to give others wisdom in making life and death decisions. I share pictures of the fun changes I’m making around my home and then read a devastating Facebook status.

These twelve months have also brought an awareness of God’s sovereignty and power, His peace and comfort, and the joy that comes with bearing one another’s burdens. In Him I take refuge. His righteousness rescues and delivers those I love (Psalm 71:1, 2). Even though I’ve seen troubles—many of them bitter, He will restore my life and will comfort me once more (Psalm 71:20, 21). He is always with me, guiding me with His counsel (Psalm 73:23, 24). And through this awareness, I’ve felt some of the weariness lifting. As though a season of lament is warming into one of new life and hope.

Tonight a friend posted a song that I have had playing on repeat for the past hour. As my tears well up once more, the words wash over me, reminding me that those I love have not been forsaken. He is constant. He is only good. He is sovereign. He is a faithful God and we belong to Him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Settling into Contentment

***This post originally was a guest post I wrote for Designs by Sessa, and I'm now sharing it here.***

In the house I grew up in my parents had a beautiful, large, fenced in front patio. My dad is a lover of plants and growing them, and my mom has a green thumb with flowers so the brick patio was surrounded by beds, boxes and pots full of a colorful array of flowers. Summer evenings were beautiful out there with our mild Oregon weather and breezes coming over the coast range. So let’s imagine we’re sitting in the wicker furniture my mom had carefully arranged out there, holding glasses of iced tea, and have some kindred spirit conversation about what my heart has been learning.

I’ve been on a bit of a journey over the past year and a half—learning more about myself, my role as a wife/mom/Christian/friend/crafter and ultimately coming to a place of contentment. In November of 2011 I stepped down from my job as Children’s Ministries Director at our church to be a full time stay at home mom. My new title was the role I had longed for, dreamed of since childhood and stepped into willingly. However, I still found myself in a grieving period as I saw one stage of my life come to a close. I think grief in any life-stage transition is to be expected. After a few months of spending a lot of time cuddling with my son, watching a whole lot of TV and slowly regaining my energy (only to then get pregnant and lose it all over again), it was time to figure out who I was.

I’ve found that I’m a terrible house keeper, but if I develop a routine I can maintain a tidy kitchen. My son and I spend a lot of time together, but we connect more through morning cuddles than we do through playing together with toys. I love time with friends, but most days I’d actually rather spend time at home with my kids. I love sewing and crafting, but unless I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed, I don’t really make the time for it. And even though it isn’t true, I convince myself that my husband thinks I’m falling short in my duties as a stay at home mom.

While all of the above statements were true of me when I worked as well, how I see myself, and accept that self, is changing. One of my former volunteers sat next to me in church on Sunday and at one point said, “I think you’re a quieter person than I thought you were.” Her words have been rolling around my mind since then and I think she’s right. While I’m still just as talkative as ever and don’t mind being in front of groups or adding to the life of the party, my pace of life is quieter, and as a result, so is my heart. I know that I am in the role I am called to and I find myself content with that fact.

Being content with where I am in life doesn’t mean that I need to just accept my flaws and ignore the areas in need of growth. Instead it’s meaning that I allow the peace of Christ to rule my heart (Colossians 3:15). It’s knowing that I can’t overcome my failings or act in spite of them on my own—my adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3:4). And being content means remembering that He has searched me and He knows me. When I am steady and consistent in my quiet times, shining His light to those I meet and marveling at His glory at every turn—He’s with me. But He’s also with me when I am at my lowest—screaming at the dog, tripping through my toy-littered living room and trying to dig the least filthy sippy cup out of my dirty dish filled sink, as my dusty Bible asks for my attention. He made me. He has searched me. He knows me—the deepest part me that even my husband and mom don’t see. He knows the struggles, the fears, the hurts, and the guilt that plague my mind. And through all of that, He wants to pour out His love on me. And so I rest in that fact. I rest my heart. I rest my mind. I rest my spirit. I rest my weary body. I rest. And when I find myself with that unsettled, discontented, tired and worn feeling once again, I plead: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24. And He will be faithful to mend, heal, convict, strengthen, challenge, and ultimately, bring peace. And when that peace comes, so does the contentment.

Psalm 139 23-24

(As a side note to those of you who feel like this place of peace and contentment is impossible for you to reach, take a moment to listen to THIS song and follow along with the lyrics. I have felt this way so many times (even in recent days and weeks) that it brings tears to my eyes. There is hope. Redemption does win.)