“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 31 (NIV).
Last time we talked about coming to the realization we are where God wants us to be. Today, I’ll continue the conversation by talking about how to learn to be content in that place.
Now, I spoke previously about how I don’t usually handle multitasking in my different areas at the same time very well. However, with a shift in attitude and realizing that I truly am where God wants me at this time in my life, there’s a way to make the most of every situation. When my attitude shifts, I realize my feelings usually follow. The same chaos and changed plans occur, but they’re more easily managed because I choose to focus on God’s plan, not my schedule. But it’s a choice. Every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. And sometimes it takes more practice for me to get it right than other times.
A few weeks ago I had worked through my “funk” and began thanking God again for the blessings of a messy house (it meant I had family surrounding me), work to pay the bills, and happy, healthy, noisy kids. Things were going well. I was keeping my priorities where they should be: God first, then family, then work and other responsibilities. Work ran a little later than I had hoped (our printer dying didn’t help), but I took out my eraser and ran with it. After swapping my dinner ideas around a little bit, I still managed to make a special dessert and have dinner ready at a reasonable time. I was slightly upset about the printer problems but gave it over to God and only by His grace, found out we would get the new part shipped within 24 hours. The bonus: Even with the extra shipping, it cost far less than we would’ve had to pay elsewhere. I even was able to get dinner for the next two nights prepared ahead of time and found time to relax with my family and connect with a friend before heading to bed. Things were going well. There were many issues that day on my schedule I hadn’t planned, but I handled the changes knowing God was in control. I didn’t have to lose my patience or my focus.
Fast forward to the next morning. Less than 24 hours later. I didn’t sleep well because during the thunderstorm that lasted most of the night, my three-year-old took a flying leap into our bed, taking comfort in my arms. Now…since cuddling with him doesn’t occur as often anymore, I don’t mind a chance to hold him close, but he’s not as little as he used to be and doesn’t tuck up under my chin. So, after nearly getting my nose broken for the third time in a hour (he’s a deep sleeper and I think he was trying out some wrestling moves in his dreams), I realized sleep wasn’t going to come easily. After putting him back in his own bed, I had one hour before the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. but instead of getting up early, I chose to try and get a little more sleep.
That was my first mistake. If I had gotten up early and started my day with God, I would have chosen the right focus. However, when I did wake up to start my day, I soon discovered our internet was down. That’s a major problem for someone who relies on the internet to complete her work, on her busiest volume day. I immediately called technical support and 50 minutes later got a live person on the line. Now…during that time, I managed to get the chicken (prepared the night before) in the crockpot, make my husband’s lunch and send him off to work (after complaining about my schedule being messed up), get my oldest two up and moving in the right direction, and spend time with God (notice how I still didn’t have my priorities in line?). And it showed in my attitude. I started out trying to look at the positive side. My schedule the week before had shown me I can work with less-than-ideal circumstances. But, the selfish part of me wanted things to run smoothly and not have to deal with a broken printer and internet problems. You know what happened? When I got the live person on the line and walked back to my computer to try and solve the issue, it was already fixed! There had been a power outage in the area and it was restored while I was waiting. So…my schedule wasn’t interrupted after all and I was actually quite a bit ahead of schedule with all that had been accomplished while waiting.
Even though I had started the day making the wrong choices, I decided I wasn’t going to continue that way. I chose to stop what I was doing and thank God right then that despite my negative attitude and complaining, He took care of the situation for me and I was going to learn from my mistake, not continue to repeat it. Because of my poor attitude, I was able to have a talk with my kids that morning about “what not to do” as well as to apologize to my husband for my crabbiness. Next time I’m having to change directions with my schedule, I hope I’ll be more quick to see the opportunities for blessings instead of just focusing on the mess.
My point of the above drama is this: Life is messy. There is never going to be a “perfect day.” God doesn’t sit around in Heaven waiting to make my life miserable. My life has issues and problems that crop up because I live in a sinful world, same as yours. Our problems may look different, but we all are presented with them periodically. However, the way I handle my messy life is completely up to me. I can complain and see only the negatives; or I can focus on my blessings and learn to deal with the messes that inevitably come up. And you know what? I find more often than not, when I focus on the right stuff, the messes don’t seem so messy. And when I allow God to walk me through life’s “not-so-ideal” days, I also allow His promises to penetrate deep into my soul. In my opinion, the lesson sinks in deeper when I have experienced the mess versus when I just hear about it secondhand.
I also learned one other valuable lesson from my early morning experience: Just how easy it was for me to allow work to creep back into “first priority” in my life. Now, I realize that sometimes I’m going to have to spend more time working and less on other things, but overall, my work needs to stay in its rightful place. As someone wise once said (don’t remember who), multiple people could replace me in my job. To my husband, my children, and those who love me, I’m irreplaceable. I need to remember that when work tries to invade their territory and instead keep it where it belongs. Having said that, my husband is at work, my little one is still asleep (wrestling with his pillow instead of my nose), and the older two are at school. It’s time for work to get my focused attention so I can enjoy my role as wife and mom when they get home.
The same author of There’s a Plastic Green Monkey in my Purse, wrote an encouraging blog speaking about feeling overwhelmed. Here is the link if you want to read it for yourself for an extra boost: Jessie’s blog post: http://jessieclemence.com/2013/04/09/encouragement/.
Copyright 2013: Cheri Swalwell