Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Bit of An "Ah-ha" Moment

I have really kind of struggled this week.  It's been a physical/emotional kind of struggle.  No matter how much sleep I get, I'm tired.  No matter how much I get done, it feels like I'm wasting time.  No matter how many job searches I do, I can't seem to find the place that could be the right fit for me.  And then there are people in my life that I love who are also struggling.  And being the person that I am, when I hear about those other struggles I try to pick them up & carry them, stacking them on top of the burdens that are already weighing me down.

Oy.  What a way to live!  I'm pretty sure that this is not the abundant life that Jesus talks about giving to us.  But you know, I wasn't even aware of what I was doing until I had a conversation with Mike today on his lunch break.  

I was asking him if he thought I should see our doctor to check out whether or not I am struggling with depression.  Yep, it's kinda been that bad (that's part of the reason I have been hiding out from this space; who wants to read sad junk all the time?!).  I told him that some days I feel like I don't remember how to smile & when I try to, my face just feels twisted.  

Of course, Mike was loving, kind, & supportive in his response.  He told me I could if I thought it was necessary.  He told me there was nothing wrong with exploring the situation.  And he told me he knew how I felt because he had been in that same place before.  He calls it feeling 'blue'.  

Somehow, after he told me that I wasn't comforted.  I was kind of mad, actually & so, so sad.  Where is our joy?  Why are we so sad?  What are we missing that the Lord is trying to work out in us?

As I drove home I had a miniature pity party fit.  I cried & told God that I really just missed my mom so much.  And that I just wanted a job, for crying out loud!  And hadn't this been enough?  Wasn't He going to fix anything anytime soon?!

And I don't know what brought these thoughts to mind, but I started thinking about Thanksgiving.  Most of my Thanksgiving thoughts so far have been to fuss & worry about how we are going to plan & pull off the family meal because Mom was the genius behind all of that.  But today I actually had some genuine Thanksgiving thoughts.  I wondered, If I really start trying to be grateful for what I have, rather than mourn what I have lost, will I recover my joy?  Will I start to have some hope?  Will I learn to trust God?  Because I am really struggling with that...

And you probably really don't want to know where my thoughts went from there because it will just highlight to you what a freak I am.  I thought, Maybe I can list 1,000 gifts by the end of the year!  I'll be just like Ann Voskamp!  And I'll post them here on the blog every day!  Then I got to trying to do the math in my head...there are 61 days left in the year, 1,000/61=I-have-no-idea-but-it's-a-lot!  And then I got real with myself & admitted that I can in no way commit to posting here on the blog every single day.  I'm just too scattered for that.

Then my mind went into an even scarier place: I thought, I'll get on Pinterest & find some sort of Thanksgiving chart thing to make where Mike & I can daily list our blessings!  That idea is nuts for so many reasons, number one being that I don't have even a single sheet of construction paper in this house & number two being that Mike truly feels that stuff like that belongs in a elementary school classroom & not in our home, plastered on the kitchen wall, for example.

So I guess maybe I just need to make a change in my thinking.  And I know that the Lord will help me do that.  He already has, truthfully.  Right after I came home from meeting Mike on his lunch break (a perk of unemployment that I'm so grateful for) I came home & started raking/bagging the leaves in our yard.  As you all know, this is a somewhat exhausting chore & awkward (dumb leaves, GET.IN.THE.BAG!).  But as I raked & piled & scooped & bagged I thought about how we have a yard!  we have trees!  we have a rake! & bags! I'm healthy & strong enough to do the job!

Maybe what I'm finally beginning to learn is to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  I Thessalonians 5:18

Because "all circumstances" includes the death of your mom, the loss of your job, the disappointment of expectations, the death of dreams, all circumstances = ALL circumstances.  And the Lord wouldn't ask me to do it if He couldn't help me accomplish it.

So I'm putting on my Turkey hat & starting the work of being thankful.  I hope you are, too!


Heidi said...

Purposing in your heart and taking the time to list all the things we are thankful for is the best way to chase away the blues. It gets our focus off of what we don't have and onto what we do have. One thing we will always have is God's presence.

Even if Mike doesn't want a thankful tree or wreath or whatever hanging around, take time to write your thankfuls down in a journal or somewhere, so you can go back and see them again and again.

I'm praying for you!

Love and hugs,

Debbie Moore said...

Mary Ann ...each of has to work through the pain of losing a loved one and life's discouragements at our own pace. You have a heart that desires to please God & walk with Him...even though though you don't "feel" like it. That is one of the many reasons I cherish you as my friend! "Seek the Lord and his strength His face continually.. and He will give you the joy you desire" Love you!

Mrs.T said...

Your friends have given you wonderful advice above, Mary Ann. I really can't add much to what they said. But one thing I did want to say is that I'm currently going through a study of the fruit of the Spirit with my Sunday School ladies. We are in the midst of the chapter on joy.I wish I could share it all with you, but the bottom line is that the answer to joy in the midst of trials is just what you are seeking to do: offer thanks and praise to God.

Here is just one thing that the author wrote:"Jesus desired that our joy might be full (John 16:24), but affliction, loss, stress and pain can too easily rob us of any sense of joy. But when we turn our gaze upon God in the midst of our suffering, we suddenly find the power we need to praise Him despite the pain and to give thanks for His goodness even when things are not so good." -- Elizabeth George, God's Garden of Grace

I highly recommend this book. I believe it is now titled A Woman's Walk with God, but we are studying this older version. Another book I cannot recommend highly enough (it is that good, and that helpful) is Finding God's Path Through Your Trials by the same author. Both books will point you straight to God and His Word and the biblical way to handle trials. You are completely on the right track, but I have found these such an encouragement that I can't help but share them.

Another thought for keeping track of your daily blessings -- could you make a dry-erase board out of a picture frame with some sort of [tasteful] Thanksgiving printable behind the glass (you can see a Christmas one on my Christmas blog) and use that to note your daily blessings? Though I also like Heidi's idea for putting them in a journal or someplace where you can look back at them again and again.

I'll be praying for you! And, if you would be interested in the Sunday School lesson on joy, or our study of either of the books I mentioned, please send me your email address in a comment (which I won't publish) and I can email you any of the lessons you might like to have.

Love in our Lord,

Karen said...

Thankfulness and joy can be SUCH a plain ol' discipline, can't they? I'm so glad that God gives us what we need when we choose worship over our blue feelings. I'm taking a minute to pray for you right now, Mary Ann. I do read your blog faithfully, even though I rarely comment. Keep trusting!