‘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.
One more hour. One more day. One more month. One more year.
At some point in our lives, each of us has had to wait.
Waiting. Waiting. Always waiting.
For the wonderful news of a healthy baby girl. Or for the devastating news that cancer has returned. For the word on the job found or a job lost.
Waiting is a universal part of the human experience, and I believe that God allows seasons of waiting to grow, to slow us. To invite us to wade into the deeper, hidden parts of our hearts, beyond the right here, right now, me first perspective. That we may rightly see our sin-filled hearts, recognize our great need for a Savior, and be offered the eternal hope and comfort that comes only through the cross of Jesus Christ.
You may have awakened today in a hard place. Where down seems up, right seems wrong and easy seems so very hard.
Whether you are in a physical battle, financial struggle or even political fight, there are moments where each of us is given more than we can handle or comprehend, and the struggle wears us thin.
Friend, if that is where you find yourself today, then turn with me to (Luke 8) and see how Jesus handles us when our faith is painfully stretched.
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?
Today I am speaking to those married women who are in the throes of an unsatisfying and difficult marriage. I want to speak to you who are tired, angry and finally ready to walk away from your marriage.
I want to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you because there was a day when I sat where you now sit and I, too, had finally had enough.
(Please note: I am not speaking to women whose marriages are dangerously unhealthy, where physical or sexual abuse is occurring, or there is a serious threat to you or your children. This encouragement is to women whose marriages are difficult, not dangerous.)
We were standing in an empty parking lot, the final stragglers from a local meet-up. Continuing our conversation long after the doors closed, we stood by our car doors, and my good friend listened as I grumbled about the overwhelming season of life in which I found myself.
I steadfastly declared that I would simply quit the most taxing endeavor I was a part of because it was all too much and that was the most expendable option. Quitting made obvious sense and I sighed in relief just thinking about the freedom it would bring.
That is until she looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re a quitter. You quit when things get hard.“
“I’m not a quitter,” I replied, with more question than resolve in my voice.
“Yes, you are.”
“Sit, Momma,” he said, as his tiny toddler hand patted the ground beside him. “Sit.”
The week was growing more stressful by the minute and deadlines were fast approaching. I had grown impatient, and my frustration level was high. However, at 4 o’clock on this weekday afternoon, I found myself stuck outside in the warmth of the sun with the cool breeze blowing by, instead of inside productively tackling my to-do list. Counterintuitively, though, I obeyed my toddler’s request and sat down.
For 20 minutes, I simply sat and drew childish art with my son. No expectations. No deadlines. No stress. I needed a mental break from the waves of responsibility that were overtaking me and it came in the form of an impromptu play date with my toddler and his sidewalk chalk.
Last night, I worked the midnight shift.
This time, it was because our toddler was sick and the vomit kept coming, and Daddy was away on business. I found myself catching sickness with a towel, then washing bedding at 10:00 pm then again at 11:30 pm, followed by a mostly-awake sleep on the floor by his bed.
When you become a mom, there is little preparation for what it takes to handle the midnight shift well. With all its surprises, emotions and immediately on-call moments, it can be quite the exhausting endeavor.
You see it, the white line that marks the end of the race. It is looming just ahead. It’s so close.
But your feet hurt, your body aches, and mentally you just don’t know if you can even take one more step. You are ready to be done.
You may be prepping your cap and gown or signing the last permission slips of the school year. You may be the teacher just as ready for summer as your students or the employee who just turned in her two-week notice at the office.
It’s Monday morning. Your alarm has already been snoozed one too many times, so you flop your feet onto the floor and think to yourself, “I hate my life.”
In reality, though, you don’t hate your life. You hate your job.
The meaningless work. Your frustrating boss. The never-ending days. You find yourself wishing every week away, just trying to make it to the freedom of the weekend.
If this is you, then I want to share four simple strategies that can help transform the way you view your job so you can reap all the goodness God has for you in this season.