Monday, May 28, 2012

What Comes Out When Life Gets Hard

Last night was one of those I hate and dread. A kid puking in the middle of the night. Not the nice, tidy make-it-to-the-bowl type pukes, although I hate those too, but the kind that makes hours of work when all I want to do is sleep.

Another Sunday morning of plans shot down by the unexpected. As I stood surveying the mess, trying to think with my half-asleep brain, trying to come up with a plan of attack to just get clean-up done while everything about the situation made me just want to gag, I thought, "Maybe God just really doesn't want me in church." Seems like lately everything gets in the way of me going. Sick kids. Emotional battles. Hating what I have to wear. Just wanting to have the quiet house to myself. I want to worship. God deserves my worship. ... But I have to talk myself into it.

Is that really what He wants?

I'm usually pretty good responding to the kids when they're sick. But last night, I was frustrated, and it showed. I had to say to him, "Mom's really NOT mad at you, just frustrated and tired. This is NOT your fault." I hate having to say that. In my mind I was grumbling ... trying to go all those places that I don't allow myself to go when I'm frustrated or discouraged or overwhelmed.

And then in a flash, my programming kicked in. I've been working hard to see God's sweet gifts around me. "Should we accept only good things from the Lord, and not bad?" (Job 2:10)

"Lord, help me to see Your blessings in this moment," I whispered.

  • When I was young, even hearing a kid throwing up would have sent me running from the room, now I'm cleaning it up without even a gag. Thank You, Lord.
  • I've been trying to fit in cleaning the bathroom floor really well, now I have to. Thank You, Lord.
  • None of the kittens got thrown up on. Thank You, Lord.

Seeing the blessings - the gifts - in the moment came easy, as I listed one thing after another.

  • Now I have time to listen to the Jonah sermons online that I've missed during the last month. Thank You, Lord.
  • I have cleaning gloves, and I almost never buy gloves! Thank You, Lord!

I have been through some really dark, difficult places in life, and as I look back, I realize they were the places my training kicked in the most. It's easy to forget God's presence and control when things are good, and easy, and going as planned. When we are thrust into those places we don't want to be, or don't know how to handle, those are the places we are forced to draw on what we believe are true. It's that way, whether I'm cleaning up after a sick child or watching my world fall apart after my husband announces he's leaving. It's true when my car is out of gas and I'm out of money or when I find my dad dead in his bed. What I've fed into my mind, heart, and habits comes out in the moments I need it most.

It's also true that the more consistent I am in training my heart and mind to look for God in every moment, the quicker I go to that when I need to. How often I've stumbled on the realization that my heart was gloomy and discouraged only to realize I've been trying to fill it with things that don't satisfy. Or that I've woken up singing praises because I've consistently been listening to praises. And when a kid throws up on the bathroom floor, it is natural to look for the blessings when I've been practicing looking for blessings every day the last five months. Healthy spiritual practices make for quick and healthy habits when we need them.

I hope the Lord was honored by my worship today. It wasn't done by singing hymns and assembling with other believers. Instead it was drawing close to his heart in the middle of necessary work and service to my child. It was in focusing my mind on Him in the middle of the fallen circumstances of my life. It was real and flowing out of my need even though there was no one else around to see it.

I think that's what worship really is.

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