Sometimes life is just plain hard. That's how it is.
I guess the real question is - now what? How am I going to respond?
I've been studying for quite awhile now in Philippians. I chose to study there because it's been called the book of Joy and I'm desperate for God's joy to be manifest in my life. I've read through the book a couple of times on my own and am currently doing a small bible study workbook by Sharon A. Steele..
One of the themes that comes out repeatedly is that praise, thanksgiving and rejoicing is a choice. No matter what, I can choose to do these things.
Steele also made the following point that pierced my heart when I read it:
"Had Paul's desires been wrong, he could have easily fallen into despair. However, he trusted Jesus and his aim in life was to always honor and exalt Christ. Because exalting Jesus was his aim, he could rejoice and praise God right where he was. He knew that God was working in his life that that Jesus was being exalted."
In this workbook, as Steel is helping the reader understand the context of the book of Philippians, she has the reader look up other passages that show what the churches were like in Macedonia (the area in which the church the book of Philippians was written to resides). These churches were very giving, even when they had little resources of their own and you can see Paul reference this repeatedly in Philippians. Once particular passage of this type has caught my heart and I keep coming back to it. The verse it talking about how the church, when it was in meager financial shape itself, could give so generously to others. It's in 2 Corinthians 8:5 (MSG):
This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That's what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you're articulate, you're insightful, you're passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.
That part about them giving themselves unreservedly to God and the other things they are doing (in this instance giving) simply flowing out of the purposes of God working in their lives; that's a WOW concept!
My pattern has been that when hard times come in my life, I struggle. Sometimes I've been known to whine and complain (you can ask my husbands and sons on that one!) I haven't been a person who automatically responds with joy, thankfulness and praise.
When I read the passage in 2 Corinthians 8:5 I recognized that if I will give myself unreservedly to God, I'll be able to respond in tough circumstances with joy, thankfulness and praise. I'll know that He's working out His purposes in my life through all the things that I find so very trying. It will be His greatness, His glory, His mercy, His grace, His awesome wonderfulness that will be what it is all about; not my experiences or comfort.
Since no one really reads this any way I can talk freely here. Plus it feels as if I'm telling someone. As if someone actually cares.
I feel SO ANGRY. I'm not even sure why.
It's like I'm running and running and trying and trying but I just keep failing. I'm such a failure. I try so hard but it's never good enough.
My middle son is always telling me how I don't measure up. How I mess up. How I don't do things right, our house isn't nice enough. I'm too mean and expect too much of him, I don't give him enough. I'm not cool like the other parents.
My husband is way too good a man to complain but I know I'm not a very good wife. I get so irritated with him. Instead of making the best of situations and over looking problems or faults I just have to open my big mouth and say something; point out what he's done wrong. What's wrong with me anyhow?
I try so hard at work but feel like very very few people notice. Maybe my business office manager and director of nursing services. Then I feel guilty for feeling this way. It's not about me. It's about taking care of the patients and taking care of the staff. I'm an administrator; I should know deep in my soul that people may frequently resent me and not feel like I'm doing a good enough job and I have to be ok with that. It's not about anything but doing the right thing.
But I don't feel that way. I feel angry. I feel like I try to do so much for the staff to make this a better place but they still complain and complain. I feel like I was set up because I took over from the biggest micro-manager known to mankind so there's no systems in place. Plus, the truth is that even he couldn't do everything so by the time I got there lots of things were out of wack.
But he's a good talker and did everything; so many of my directors are struggling because they feel like I'm asking so much of them. They are really uncomfortable with all this thinking and caring that I'm expecting from them. They want his simple way of everything being black and white and him always being there to tell them exactly what to do.
In my heart I know I'm right; that they can really become outstanding if they'll just work with me. If they'll open up their hearts and let me speak truth, if they'll trust me.
But 2 have left already and another's throwing fits lately because I'm not doing things his way. And I'm honest about it - I'm not telling him I'm right and he's wrong and that I know everything. I'm telling him the good I see in his way but why I believe in what I'm doing and that I have to do what I believe is right when the day is done - and he's not happy. So not happy that he called my boss and complained. I've never in my entire career had someone call my boss and complain about me.
I'm a good person and I take care of my people; and he doesn't care. Today at one point he said he wished he hadn't called but that he felt bad so he had to do what worked for him; but that it didn't make him feel any better but that still he owed it to himself. What's all this about owing it to ourselves. We're a team and we're in this together.
OK so I'm an imperfect person with imperfect kids and an imperfect husband and I work with more imperfect people.
So what's my problem? This is life! Why am I such a baby here crying!
Frequently life is so filled with small blessings, even in the midst of tough times.
Things have been SO TOUGH at work lately. Then today, God blessed me with the maintenance man I hired about 6 weeks ago walking into my office. He came in and looked awkward; he them said that he knew we weren't there in our relationship yet, but that he got the impression I've had a really hard week and was there anything he could pray for me about.
There's an acronym, H.A.L.T. - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
Around 7PM this evening I had a H.A.L.T. experience.
I was just about arriving home from work; a bit late but looking forward to a much needed hike in the mountains behind our home with my dog Jake. I longed for the soul feeding that these hikes provide.
I had ate very little for lunch and was hungry. It's been a tough few weeks lately and I've not gotten as much sleep as I'd like, I was that deep kind of tired.
Then a nurse at work called telling me how she'd 5150'd our new admit who'd just come to the facility in the late afternoon today. We're a locked IMD - why would we ever 5150 someone? I didn't want to blast her but I was sooo frustrated!!
I felt like such a failure. I keep trying to train these people yet my training is obviously ineffective. I wanted to cry. I felt so alone.
But for some goofy reason I reached out to our brand new program director. He's just 30yrs old and has only been working at the facility a little over a week. But he and I really connected during the interview process and I've kept in contact with him throughout until his start day. He was great (of course he is an MFT) and really encouraged me. I didn't feel so alone; I felt like I had someone who I could work with to make this facility better.
So I emailed him a thank you and cc'd the DON & DSD because I also outlined some plans for change.
I really see how being able to connect, to not be alone, made such a difference!
I am so grateful to God for bringing the right people to my work for me to hire. So grateful that God is blessing me with being able to build a team that can work together to effect positive change.
I'm just grateful to God for His goodness to me and want to live my life following after Him. I've been blessed with 3 awesome sons and in July of 2005 I remarried. My husband truly knows me and still loves me - how much more blessed could I be!
"Hope Beyond Hell The Righteous Purpose of God's Judgment " by D. Scott Reichard & Gerry Beauchemin
"Invitation to Solitue and Silence" by Ruth Haley Barton
"Nehemiah; a heart that can break" by Kelly Minter
"Prayers that avail much for leaders" compiled by Germaine Copeland and Lane Holland
"Raising Hell" by Julie Ferwerda
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Perceptive words spread knowledge; fools are hollow—there's nothing to them. GOD can't stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers. A life frittered away disgusts GOD; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.
You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.