Fear/Hope

Fear used to be the thing that lived under my bed when I was a small child and threatened to grab my foot if I let it dangle over the edge of the bed too long. It would rear its head sometimes, but when I turned the lights on, found someone that I loved to be near to, and fear would retreat.

After losing my daughter last year, fear has taken on a new form. I hear bad news, from markets taking a downturn to illness spreading, and my heart begins to race. My mind whirls with “what if”s that steal my peace and my hope. And I worry that someone else that I love will be taken from me. I worry for all of those who will lose a loved one to senseless violence, illness, or accident. I worry that everything will fall apart again, and that this time, everything will be too broken for me too pick up the pieces and keep going.

Losing Cora was a trauma. It took me a a long time to recognize that. And I carry scars from that trauma, physical and mental. We’re working on the mental scars, and have been going to a therapist. (An aside: If you’re struggling, go see a professional. There is not shame in going to therapy.)

There are so many people suffering trauma now. It feels like the world is ripping itself apart. Fifty people were murdered and countless more injured last weekend.

And the truth is, I am not strong enough for this. We are not strong enough for this. I am not strong enough to pick up the pieces and keep going. But the basis of the faith that has come to mean more to me since Cora died is that God loved us all so much that He was willing to give up His only Son so that we could be saved from punishment for our sins by accepting Him. The point is not that I am supposed to be strong enough to keep going. The point is that I’m to turn to Him when I’m hurt, confused, and falling apart.

It is impossible to hope on my own after loss. To hope that God would allow me to get pregnant again and carry a baby who lives; to hope that it would be soon. To trust that although bad things happen as a result of sin, that God is still good. Hope is an easy task when you have not experienced loss or disappointment. When you know loss and disappointment, hope is an act of faith. Hope is a hard choice that becomes an act of worship and surrender to God, because you know the pain that loss can bring and know that God may choose to tell you “no”. Hope is believing that God is good  and will sustain you even when you are disappointed and hurt. Hope is trusting that God will hold you together when everything goes wrong.

Hope is knowing that even if everyone that I love is lost, even if I never carry a child who lives, even if my home remains empty of children or another sort of calamity visits my life, God is still good. I still choose to love Him because He first loved me. I deserve nothing, and yet Christ loves me.

God is still good. Even when it feels like the world is burning down around us, God is still good. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

If you follow Christ, live your life in the light of hope in Christ, not hope is material things or family members. Even in light of the murder that was committed just this past weekend, hope audaciously. Pray without ceasing. And then go do something. Show your love to another who is hurting. Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. May we all take our fear and pain to the foot of the cross, and then act as Christ would have acted. May we glorify God’s name by living our lives and choosing daily to trust in Him.

If you do not follow Christ, my words won’t make much sense. If God is good, why do people die? If God is good, why do people spew hate in His name? If God is good, why did my unborn child die or why did a man murder fifty people over the weekend? I cannot sum up the whole of my faith in a blog post. I would encourage you to read scripture. To examine the life of Christ and to see what He said about Himself and how He loved and lived, and how He died to pay the price for our sins. I also encourage you to ask questions. God does not require that we become perfect before we seek Him. He came to seek and save those who are hurting and those who are sick.

And when we see pain and sickness, suffering and death, and people who claim faith who wield it like a club with which to beat others, know that Christians are not perfect and that some who claim faith in God are misled. We are a poor reflection of the Christ that we serve. I pray that you would seek Him with your whole heart, because He is waiting for you to find Him.

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Peace

I’ve been trying to make Mondays in October about being around my house. And today, while I was hanging out at my house, watching the who knows what number hour of television I’ve watched in the past month, I realized that I didn’t have a post ready for today.

I actually don’t have my posts ready for this week. That hasn’t happened all month. I have been spending a few hours on every Saturday getting my posts ready, and instead, this weekend I went to my mom’s house and hung out with my family.

I’ve been doing a lot of nothing recently.

I’ve been scared and kind of sad. About nothing, and everything at the same time. Even though I usually love the fall, this year, it has brought with it a lot of anxiety. On a walk the other day, while feeling the cold through my after work uniform (IE, sweats), I stopped and almost cried.

My memories of the cold this year don’t have anything to do with my birthday or Christmas, or having fun in the cold. It makes me feel the fear that I felt when Husband-Man was very sick and didn’t get off the couch. When I had to make him go back in the house while I was cleaning the cars and parking spaces off. When I came home after work to make sure he was eating.

And I have to stop. And remind myself to not wait for everything to go wrong again. I have to be okay being at peace now, enjoying the fall and not waiting for things to be dark again.

I have to wait and ask for peace from the One who knows my heart better than I do.

Day 20

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. Want to read all of my posts in this series? Click here

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Leaf-Day 8

Do you want to know a secret?

It’s not a happy one, I’m afraid. It’s not something that I tell many people.

I have trouble sleeping. And I know that everyone has trouble sleeping at some point in their lives, but I’ve had trouble sleeping for almost four years straight.

It all started when I was a senior in college. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do after I graduated. I was planning my wedding. And one night, I just couldn’t fall asleep. And the next night, I was scared that I wouldn’t fall asleep. So I didn’t. And it went on and on and on.

And at one point, at about two o’clock in the morning, after months of not getting good sleep, I thought about if it would be easier for me to die than to go through another night of sleeplessness. I thought about hurting myself for a brief second. And I got on Facebook, and saw that one of my dear friends was up as well. She lived in my dorm, and she came and sat with me when I asked her to. She brought down a bucket of soapy water and a warm towel, and she sat down on my dorm room floor and washed my feet. And she slept in the top bunk in my room so that I didn’t have to be alone.

I was so ashamed. I thought “I’m a Christian. I shouldn’t be thinking things like this. This is not good. I need help.” So the next morning, I called my then fiance and now Husband-Man and told him that I’d thought about hurting myself. And I scheduled a visit to the counselor on campus.

And I was so scared to go see her. But, I went. I thought she would tell me I was crazy. She did quite the opposite. She sat and asked me questions and listened to me. She drew pictures in her notes and didn’t look down her nose at me. And when I was done, she said, “Honey, no wonder you’re having trouble sleeping. Anybody would. Here are some things that you can do to help.”

And I tried those things, and they did help. My issues with sleep aren’t over. And I’ve not talked about that dark night to many people. But a lot of that is pride. I don’t want to admit that I’ve been to such a dark place. I don’t want to admit that I still struggle with sleep, and that I don’t have  clock in my room so that I can’t count the minutes until I have to wake up while I’m trying to sleep.

But, God is honored in our weakness. He is glorified because every night, I fall asleep and trust that He’ll still be God even when I’m not awake to make sure that everything is okay.

This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October. If you’re interested in catching up on the entire series, click here.

Stress-ness

(This post alludes to the fact that women poop. If you buy into the illusion that women don’t eliminate solid waste, be warned.)

So, I have another mind-blowing secret.

I am horrible at handling stress in my life. H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. So bad in fact, I make it worse.

How horrible? When I begin to think about a change in my life, I get stressed. When I know I have a trip coming up, I stress out. How does stress manifest itself in my life? Sleeplessness, head aches, upset stomach, and upset guts.

Today was no exception. Today, I woke up feeling horrible. Why? A billion and one reasons, but the cause is not our focus today. When I woke up, I could feel a headache forming behind my eyes. I could feel my stomach and guts churning.  I stayed home from church (boo), and slept until about 11:00 AM. And when I got up, I went right back to bed. I felt like I couldn’t move or do anything buy lay down, so I laid in bed and felt sorry for myself.

When Husband-Man came home from church, he ordered me to not do all the work I’d assigned myself for the weekend. He told me to rest on the couch, and by the way he looked at me, I’m pretty sure he thought that I was either going to blow chunks or have a blow out. He ran laundry, got me crackers and Gatorade, and parked me on the couch.

After he was sure I wasn’t going to explode anytime soon, he went outside to touch up some spots on our 2002 Camry. Since the Brave Little Toaster is about to rust out, we are trying to be extra careful with our “new” car to prevent premature death by rust. So, out came the Rust-Oleum and a rag to clean off the car.

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I went outside to check on him after about twenty minutes (he needs cookie rations relatively frequently), and the sun and dry heat (for once, it wasn’t crazy humid) made my headache ease and my guts calm down. I soon took over the job of painting the chipped spots on our car, since Rust-Oleum has an applicator tip much akin to my nail polish applicators. I lost myself in fixing the sparkly paint job on our car, and for some magical reason, forgot to hurt for a while.

And why did I feel better? Because I stopped worrying for a little while. In Matthew 6:25-34, I’m reminded of what I’m to do with my worry.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I am anxious about tomorrow, but I’m trying to give over my anxiety to God.

And in the meantime, I think I’ll keep helping Husband-Man take care of the car to keep my mind off my menial worries.

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Isn’t he cute?

 

Sick

I haven’t posted this week, and that grieves my heart.

I have been struggling this week. Really, really struggling. There have been some major changes in my office this week, and the end result of those changes amounts to a whole lot of work that has to be done in a short amount of time, and a lot of the responsibility of that falls to me.

The work is good work. The work is to help students get ready for college, and to grow personally. But I haven’t handled the stress associated with that work well. I have felt sick to my stomach, and my head has ached. I’ve had trouble sleeping and haven’t been able to stop thinking about all of the work that needs to be done. I’ve put in long hours, and have fought the symptoms of my body telling me to let go of the stress I’m carrying. 

And I struggle. I can’t not do the work that I’m tasked with as part of my job. I can’t change the load that I’m carrying. And I have tried and failed to change the way I’m carrying that load.

Do you see anything wrong with that last sentence? I sure do. It’s not my load to carry. Because I can’t do it. Because I’m not supposed to. In Phillipians 4:4-9, it says 

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

The Word tells us to not be anxious, but through prayer WITH thanksgiving, to present our requests to God. And God’s peace with guard our hearts in Christ. God’s peace with guard my heart and mind. And I need that badly. 

Have you ever studied a foreign language? If you stuck with it, you got to the good part where you learned jokes and colloquial expressions. I have studied Spanish for a decent part of my life, and one of the greatest joys about studying it has been learning the language and culture associated through axioms. An expression that has really stuck with me it “quien en pan piensa hambre tiene”. Loosely, this translates to “he who thinks about bread is hungry”. And to me, this expression means that what you focus on takes up more and more importance in your mind. What would that have to do with Philipians 4? Towards the end of the passage, Christians are admonished to think about things that build us up. When I think about stress, I have more of it. When I think about how poorly I feel, I feel worse. When I think about God and His provision, my worries get smaller and I am better able to trust a big God with my stress. It is no mistake that in the passage about anxiety, we’re told to focus our thoughts on that which builds up instead of that which tears down. 

So, this week, I encourage you to focus on God. To pray to Him with thanksgiving, and to set your mind on that which builds you up and turns your mind to Him. I also ask you to pray for me. Pray for me that while I work, I would honor God and do my work as unto Him (Colossians 3:23-24) and that I would keep His edifying Word and promises in my mind, allowing Him to protect my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. 

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