Bitter Made Bearable

I know a whole lot of people right now whose hearts are breaking. Their struggles run the gamut–disease, divorce, death of a loved one, addiction, rebellious children, infertility. Dave often tells his counseling clients that he would love to fix things, but his magic wand is broken. I feel the same way.

I’ve struggled through a few rough spots in my life–some of my own making and some just from living in a broken world. Both really, really stink. I will tell you, though, that I’ve learned that when I take responsibility for the things that are mine and leave the rest to God and everyone else, life has more peace. The words I speak, the activities I choose, the boundaries I set and the people I lean on can make a pretty significant difference in my own emotional and spiritual health. Even then, things will be hard. I’m telling you, though, every bitter road I’ve walked has been made bearable (and even beautiful!) by Jesus. Every.Single.One.

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears…The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them…Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” –Psalm 34

God will not often erase your trials (especially when they’re a result of your own lousy choices), but He will give you the strength to take what comes in His peace and with courage.

Scotch Eggs and Homemade Ravioli

Let me share a little story with you.

My oldest daughter’s name is Rachel. She is fifteen. About six years ago, a friend asked me what Rachel liked to cook. My response was something like, “Well, she likes to help me, and she can cook eggs, but I am too much of a control freak to just turn her loose in the kitchen. There’s always so much mess, and it’s just easier for me to do it.”

My friend’s response, forever seared into my brain, was a very calm, “Well, you need to get over that.”

I. Was. Stunned.

NO ONE (except occasionally my husband…and maybe sometimes my mom) tells me what to do. Seriously. No one.

I didn’t really react to my friend’s advice at the time, because I had matured enough to not speak in anger (well, mostly). Besides, I had a sneaking suspicion that my friend might be on to something, but I wasn’t quite ready to face it.

Long story short, my friend was right.

My job is to prepare my children for LIFE. Cooking will very likely be a valuable part of their lives. Cooking can help them eat healthy meals within their means, and it can help them connect with the people around them. Cooking might even be something that they some day enjoy.

So, I started giving my kids more responsibility–and more freedom–in the kitchen. And, to be honest, sometimes it’s really messy, and there are occasions when it would just be easier for me to do it. There is also some grumbling and complaining from time to time (from both them AND me!).

But, there are also days like today–days when I don’t prepare a single meal, but we still eat like royalty with Scotch eggs for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and homemade ravioli for supper. That’s pretty cool. Totally worth any investment and inconvenience on my part.

And, that’s part of what parenting is–a worthwhile investment that is occasionally inconvenient. And, if what I’ve been told is right, it goes by in the blink of an eye.

Failure

I said something I shouldn’t have said. And then, to try to make it somehow better, I did something I shouldn’t have done. When will I learn?

I’m tempted to beat myself up about it. Again. For the four hundred sixty-seventh time.

But why? What good has that done anyone?

The fact of the matter is that we will fail. We are human.

However, God has given us a beautiful gift in His Holy Spirit, and its fruits are mighty.
Love. Joy. Peace.
Patience.
Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness.
Gentleness.
Self-Control.

These qualities are everything we need to re-claim our lives and to live according to our true priorities. These resources are already ours if we have given our lives to Christ; we just need to choose to use them. There is an ocean full of His grace that covers over our mistakes. All we need to do is ask to be washed in it. If you have not given your life to Jesus and are ready to do so, tell me. Or, tell someone else who knows Him. Or, go directly before God Himself. The invitation is open as long as there is breath in your body. The gift is yours.

Choice

There are certain circumstances in my life that are well beyond my ability to control. As frustrating as that is for me at times, it is a beautiful gift that God has allowed me the choice of how I respond to my circumstances. Lord, help me to choose JOY. PEACE. LOVE. GRACE. GRATITUDE.