Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not Losing It

Swallowed in a blackened sea of near despair, I desperately, frantically look around for help. Where can I turn? Who would understand this?

As my lungs burn for oxygen and I struggle for freedom, faintly, almost as a whisper, I hear my own voice from far away. 

I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Yes! Jesus, help me! 
And then, peace. 

After the first gulps of oxygen and the quieting of my pulse, and then the focused resting in His presence, comes the replay. 

Where did I go wrong? How did I get so far off track? 

Our lives are stressful as of late. Our newest blessing has developed behaviors that have left all of us feeling undone. Convinced that I could handle this, I went to work researching and trialing behavior modification techniques, ignoring my need to surrender and rest in Him. When nothing worked and behaviors increased, I found myself spiraling. I focused inward, letting resentment build and anger fester. Self-pity returned and misery along with it. My old friend, anxiety, came back for an extended visit. 

In His gentle mercy, God is showing me something. Pride is the root of all of it. Pride is what prompts me to take the reins and convinces me that I can handle it. Pride is what keeps me from seeking Him and seeking help. 

Worse than that, though, is the pride that tells me I deserve better. 

It makes me believe that I shouldn't have to dodge flying objects or clean up poop paintings; that I have the right to sit through a meal without getting hit with food; that I should have my anniversary roses displayed on the table instead of safely tucked on the highest shelf of my closet. It tells me that I don't deserve to be pinched and bitten for simply combing a child's hair.

Pride tells me that I deserve a break, that I'm getting shafted by having to deal with anything different than a "normal" family, that I shouldn't have to put up with all of this. This is not what I signed on for. 

Pride breeds my discontent. 

It makes me think of myself more highly than I ought. 

And it leaves me miserable. 

My arrogance astounds me. Who am I? 

Last night, I was catching up on my friend, Susanna's, blog. Also an adoptive mom, she has faced intense medical and behavioral challenges from her newest treasures. Her words leapt off the page at me: 
We are called to die, so the life of Jesus can shine through us.
At the same time, we humans can be so drawn to the comfortable, the known, the easy, the familiar, the safe.  And that’s not innately a bad thing.
It only becomes problematic for us when God sends us in the opposite direction and we don’t want to go.
Will we as Christ’s people shrink back in fear from His path of sacrifice?  And call it ”counting the cost?”
Will we set our hearts on our own visions and ideals for our lives and families more than we set our hearts on following after Him?  And call it ”the abundant life?” 
Will we preserve for ourselves treasure on earth rather than giving Him our last mite with abandon?   And call it ”being a good steward?”
Of course we will and of course we do...

We had a vision for what we wanted our family to be.  It was a good vision, friends, not a bad one! But it wasn’t God’s vision for our family.  His goals for us are so much greater than our goals for ourselves.  He’s so much more interested in making us better than He is in making our lives better.
Convicting, life-giving, thrilling words that leave me with a choice. Do I want to continue to follow my dreams, my vision, my plans? Or do I want to take up my cross and follow Jesus? 
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

 I laughed when I saw this particular translation of this Scripture. I can often be heard saying, "I am losing it!" during periods of stress and frustration. Now I know why. 

Because I love my life.

Of course. 

Why else would frustration build to the point that I feel like I am going to blow or "lose it", unless I was feeling like I had lost control of the one thing I value most...my life

If I love my life - my rights, my comforts, my routines, myself - I'm going to lose it. I'm going to lose my head, my cool, my mind, my peace, my life.

But if I hate my life in this world...if I can look beyond my circumstances and see with eyes of eternity, if I can want with longing the life I will one day have...then I can keep it - keep it together, keep it up, keep it going, keep real life - forever

I know I'm taking huge liberties with this Scripture, but I think God's okay with it. 

His Word says, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10

When I humble myself before Him and repent of this foolish pride, this is how He lifts me up. He reminds me of truth. He encourages me with His Word. He supplies me with grace. He gives me hope. He shows me how to willingly lay down my life. 

And I can do this. 

Without losing it. 

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