Friday, April 22, 2011

In Spite of Feeling

Daily, I've been fighting to get past an array of feelings that at times overwhelm and at times are absent when they seemingly shouldn't be. My mother-in-law's illness, my grandmother's accident/surgery/hospitalization, the pressures and struggles that have accompanied this sour economy and the transitions I have made in the last year in life on personal and professional levels (enduring a difficult pregnancy, moving, becoming a mom, finishing law school, moving again, starting my career, studying for and taking the Bar -- trying to wear more hats than my head can hold) -- it has surely taken a toll on me this past year. In truth, most days, I am not thriving. Most days, the most I can hope for is to survive. Most days I feel as though I am barely reaching that goal.

Today is Good Friday. The day we celebrate Jesus' ultimate sacrifice: His death for us on the cross. The day we are reminded of the price that we were purchased at and the extent of His love for us: that He would endure such vile and undeserved punishment just to set us free, so that we might see Heaven someday and be with Him for eternity. This Easter season marks my 11th re-birthday. 11 years since I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord & Savior and asked Him to make me a "new creation." As noted above, I do not always "feel" like a new creation. I do not always feel free through Jesus' death on the cross. Mostly, I feel owned and consumed by my circumstances. I forget sometimes that I am His and that He is in me.

During this Lenten season, I committed myself to reading through the Gospels every morning on my way to work. I finished this morning, ending my journey through these books with the Gospel of John. Towards the end of this book, I re-discovered Jesus' prayer for us. I'm sure I have read it many times before, but it "felt" new to me this year. After Jesus prayed for His disciples, He said:

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:20-26).

As a believer, I accept Jesus at His Word. I believe that what He says is true. There is no doubt in my mind. But I don't always feel it.

The world tells us that we should live according to what we feel. Marriages are ended everyday because people just don't "feel" that it can work, don't "feel" happy. Decisions of great and little consequence are made on this flimsy and untrustworthy basis every day. As a woman, I believe that God gave us strong emotions and greater sensitivity than men for a reason. While our emotions and our ability to "feel" things so deeply is a gift, it can also cause us to make poor decisions, to give up when we ought to press on and to doubt what we know is true. I know that I have on more than one occasion...

This Easter, I am reminded that Jesus died on the cross to set me free, not so that I could be subject to feelings of depression, anxiety or doubt. He died on the cross so that I could be free, so that I could be in Him, so that I could seek and follow His will for my life, even when I don't feel the joy that I ought to feel. Though I am seeking to stand on His Word, to discern and follow His will for my life, I recognize that it doesn't necessarily mean that I will always feel joy. That being content may be the most I can hope for somedays. Most importantly, I'm reminded that what I need to recognize and that which I record here for what I hope will be an encouragement to others and pray will be a reminder to myself, is that Jesus is with me whether I "feel" it or not. He promised to work all things together for good. He promised to be the same today, tomorrow and forever. He promised that His mercies would be new every morning. I can stand on those Truths even when I feel that I don't have the strength to stand on my own two legs. There is comfort in that whether I feel it as deeply as I should or wish I could or not.

As a Christian, I have the privilege of worshiping a Living Savior. This Easter Sunday, I hope it will be as powerful a reminder to you as it is to me that though on Good Friday Jesus died a painful, horrible death, On Easter Sunday and every day, He is alive. He is risen. He is risen indeed.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Purpose Driven

I'll be honest. Most days it feels like a struggle. The struggle does not merely concern juggling all of the different hats that I must wear, but surviving another day, making it through another week, counting down the days left before the weekend comes, and then trying to draw from every hour I'm given with my family a measure of joy, rest and peace that will give me strength to start the cycle over again on Monday morning. Life as a working mom is much harder than I ever thought that it would be, but at the week's end I am reminded of why I keep going. As I type this, Noah is coming at me with a broom, not at all happy that I have withdrawn to take some much needed "me time" on the other side of the room. Frustrating, yes, but even in these moments of frustration, I cannot help but laugh as I watch my son's personality grow at a pace much faster than his weight or height. Moments ago, my "tiny tyrant" was standing at my side shaking his finger at me saying "no no," imitating the instruction he had just received from his grandma and feeling the need to show me that he too can give instruction. He has quite a sense of humor, albeit a poor sense of timing...

When I was a stay-at-home mom, finishing up my final year of law school, searching for a job that never seemed to come, I often felt that my only purpose was to change diapers, to provide sustenance and to get my child to sleep. I've often said -- and still maintain -- that being a mom is the highest profession I could ever aspire to. It has been the privilege of my life. Yet, being a mom has certainly involved a measure of sacrifice. Largely, what I've missed most of all is being able to write. And I don't just mean the time. I also mean the energy, the focus, the clarity of thought, the ability to put my thoughts into words or finish something I start. Although I am optimistic that returning to this blog will allow me to return to my first love, I am aware that the demands of being a mom will often leave little time to follow-through. That is OK. It will have to be for now.

In honesty, I have sometimes felt jealous of Michael's ability to serve God by playing lead guitar as a member of the Creative Arts Ministry at our church. I have been searching for a ministry and a purpose of my own and have not had any success in finding my place or roll in which I could serve. Prior to becoming a mom, I always felt that blogging was my ministry and that there was no better forum in which I could use the tools that God has given me. Whether it can be that for me again is to be seen.

I came across a verse today that reminded me that God knows His plans for me, even as I struggle to define a purpose for myself. This verse (Psalm 138:8) is a promise I am standing on and is my prayer today, though my heart is overwhelmed and my mind is tired and the words do not come quickly or easily enough:

"The LORD will fulfill [His purpose] for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever--do not abandon the works of Your hands."