For many of us, becoming a Christian and joining a church is a lot like getting invited to a country club.
We sign up on a little card, are handed instant “community” within the group and are even given a calendar full of all the ways to become involved.
We receive a place at the table of doing, serving and attending. We meet up for regular gatherings that make us feel good, feel loved and feel accepted.
Yet, despite the all-inclusive aspects of this new life, something is missing. Something is lacking.
After years of attending, doing and serving, we find that we don’t know Jesus more intimately than we did that first day we prayed and asked Him into our lives.
You see her.
In your Instagram feed. Writing another book. Up on a stage. Traveling the globe and doing work that seems to be changing the world.
Meanwhile, you are stuck paying bills and budgeting. Carpooling and folding laundry. Hustling but not getting anywhere fast.
Your life feels far from extraordinary. Yours lacks influence, and your work seems unimportant in comparison to what she, and others like her, are doing.
People all around you seem to have megaphones and microphones, and you are simply standing among the masses: a speck in a sea of insignificance.
‘Tis the season for wish lists and gift giving. And all around the interwebs, you can find ways to fill both needs.
However, even throughout the year, each of us has an additional wish list that we aren’t necessarily sharing with others; almost an unspoken wish list, if you will.
Things that even money can’t buy. Heart level things.
Like the mending of a hurtful relationship with your mother or father. Or the opportunity to finally quit your job and pursue something you love. Or the relentless longing for a child to fill your heart and home.
We may gather round dinner tables or smile across the church aisle over the next few weeks as if all is merry and bright, but deep down, many of us are wishing for something far more grand than a beautifully wrapped present under a tree.
The beautifully wrapped packages, the gorgeously decorated tree, the perfectly prepared meal. This time of year we all begin to make our dream lists about creating the warmest of holiday celebrations for our families.
While the details of our visions may vary, our hopes are similar. We want those who fill our homes over the holidays to feel loved, welcomed, and celebrated, with nothing missing from the picture perfect vision in our heads.
And so we hustle to the stores, bustle around the kitchen, and keep our hands busy prepping and planning so that the holidays can be all they were meant to be.
But, friends, have you ever felt harried by the holiday hustle? Does the stress of meal planning, house tidying, gift buying, and guest hosting wear you thin rather than fill you up?
If so, then I am here to tell you that you are not the only one.
Will Smith ranks as one of my all-time favorite actors. While I have many of his movies in my movie collection, The Pursuit of Happyness is one of my top picks. In it, Will Smith portrays Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman and single father in a 1981 San Francisco.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that tells a tale of struggle and setback, perseverance and determination. Victory finally arrives, but not until after a long, hard road. And somewhere along the way, Chris Gardner finds happiness.
Friends, I dare say, that the path to our happiness looks quite similar. We want to arrive at a place of happiness, where things go our way and life is easy and good. Yet, happiness is not the end destination, but simply a product of our journey.
After 14 hours sitting sedentary in a car and logging hundreds of miles of fast food and soda pop, I looked into the hotel mirror that night and saw the worst version of myself. Greasy hair, muffin top belly, and a blotchy, pimpled face.
“Disgusting. I feel so disgusting,” is all I could think.
For the remainder of that day, all I felt was unattractive. Fat and unattractive.
Fast forward 12 hours + a solid night’s rest. The morning greets me at 6:00 a.m. and I head to the same hotel’s weight room for a 30-minute run on the treadmill. When I return to our room, I look in the same mirror. Staring back at me is the woman from the day before, sweaty, stinky and make-up less. Yet, this woman looks different. She doesn’t seem fat at all. She seems strong, capable and full of life.
My muffin top was still there. The adolescent-type pimples hadn’t disappeared overnight. I still hadn’t showered. So, what in the world had changed that I viewed myself so differently within just 12 hours?
Chances are you are tired. Late nights, early mornings, long hours and difficult seasons can drain the life out of us.
And one area where I have seen myself grow overwhelmed and exhausted, especially when I am already tired, is all the choices I have to make every single day.
Once I rise with the morning light, I hit the floor making decisions. What’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner (and snack!) for my family? What clothes should we wear? What school lessons should we do? What do we need for all of the activities? What time do we go to bed?
By the time dinner arrives, I am exhausted both physically and mentally from all the effort it takes to keep things moving forward.
It’s Monday. The most dreaded day of the week has come.
But today, with all its spilled milk, rush hour traffic, looming deadlines and the heavy-handed to-do list, I refuse to wish it over because today is a big deal for us.
This Monday marks the one month we have remaining in our Kentucky home. For in four more Monday’s, we say goodbye to the community that has given us our children’s childhood, has restored our marriage and has graced us with wells of deep friendship.
Every bride dreams of living “happily ever after.” But few of us know how to get there. In our ten years of marriage, I have discovered seven inside tips to help other couples enjoy marriage more.
- Move away
Seven years ago, we had the opportunity to move six hours away from all we had ever known as home. The most common response from older couples was “I am so excited for you.” They knew something we didn’t.
When you move away from home and those comfortable relationships, all you have left is each other. You will find yourself clinging more tightly to one another and forging a brand-new identity together that would have been hard-pressed to do back “home.”
Today was a hard day. Our baby-turning-toddler has been refusing to sleep, both at night and at nap time. The rainy days keep piling on, which, in turn, wear thin the patience and imagination of the big kids. Daddy had an overnight travel and I am attempting to eat better & exercise more (which simply translates into I’m hungry and not happy). I tell you this so you know that I need this reminder too.
Our baby boy turns one in less than a week – and I keep catching myself wondering where on earth those months, those 365 days, went.
Babies don’t keep. I understand that simple statement far better now than I ever did in those early years with our oldest. If I had to do it all over again, this is what I would say to the first-time-mommy version of me (and to you).