Monday, August 4, 2014

Desperately Seeking Joy


 Guilt spreads over me like sticky  juice flooding the countertop and dripping onto the floor from a freshly cut melon.  It eats away at my confidence and zaps my energy.  I feel its heavy weight from the second my eyes spring open in the morning light to the last few moments of a long day.

This hasn't been an amazing summer.  It hasn't been marked by beautiful moments of closeness and family togetherness.  It's been hard and exhausting.  There have been punishments and empty promises and lots of threats.  I've struggled with constant lack of vision in my left eye and I've cried myself to sleep as I long to be a better mom, daughter, wife and friend.

On the outside I run through the paces...shower, apply lipstick, tackle piles of laundry, make occasional dinner plans and schedule trips to the pool.  I host four small groups a month and drive my kids to camps and sleepovers with friends.  I walk the dog, tell my husband I love him and I pray.

I offer grace to strangers and friends for choices they make and confessions they share with me, but I keep myself locked in chains of criticism and doubt.
It's a double standard that I can't seem to unload. When I'm alone, I long to lift it off my shoulders like unlacing shoulder pads and squeezing out of them after a long football game.  Yet they won't budge.  It's as if the laces are all knotted up and I am fighting to release myself but I can't lift them.

I have spent so many days this summer in turmoil.   I've become paralyzed by anger, self disapproval and disappointments with the world.  I've allowed them to consume me and I've wasted precious time with my family. After brooding and lamenting I retreat to the only place that ever offers any solace...the Bible.

God whispers a reminder that I'm never alone and He gently guides me to the Old Testament book of Psalms.  He guides my thoughts to Psalms 4 and I begin to read about David as he cries out to God in his distress.  David reminds me to not get caught up in delusions and distracted by false Gods.  For me it's delusions of perfect children with perfect manners and perfect moms.  He warns me to not make my projects, my material things, my desire for human approval and guilt my 'false Gods' and there is a reminder to search my heart and be silent.

In exchange for my obedience in those areas, David promises God's hope will abound.  Only when I throw off the shoulder pads of guilt and the fear of the unknown and offer my 'people-pleasing-heart' as a sacrifice to Him, will I feel His light shine upon me.  When I shake off the anger that I can only see with one eye, the frustration that my kids aren't listening, and the fear of all of the unknowns of the techno-world, I begin to clear space for joy.

Father God, I ask for your forgiveness. You didn't create me to walk in the darkness.  Please take my hand and help me to rest in your presence and to find my value in you. This is a long journey and we weren't meant to walk alone.  Amen.