How's that for a title? Hang with me for few minutes.
Let's talk about life a little.
Being a parent is super challenging, and super emotional, and super exhausting at times. But it is also super AWESOME, super rewarding, and super humbling.
It is the hardest job I have ever been given the privilege of doing. To be honest, I never thought it would be this hard before I had children. I had a bit of an unrealistic picture of how things would be. But if reality matched what I had envisioned then I would be missing out on all sorts of lessons, growth, and blessings.
Being stretched is hard and when you need the stretching, it hurts. But just like when I sit on the floor and stretch my tired legs out in front of me, touching my fingers to my toes; the first thing I feel is a bit of pain but very soon, the more I stretch, that pain turns into relief. And after stretching my body this way daily for a while, the pain begins to fade and go away until I introduce new stretches. The result is a healthier and stronger body.
Growth does not happen without pain. Ask my oldest son whose legs hurt from time to time from what we all know and call "growing pains." But guess what? When he has these pains, we stretch his legs to relieve the pain.
Our heart and our spirit are stretched in the same way. Without this stretching, we do not grow. Without the presence of growth, there is no life.
The result of this growth: strength; deeper roots of faith and trust in the One who is stretching us; a heart and spirit that is strong enough to stand when life is shaky.
How are we stretched in this way? How can we grow?
Let me ask this question: Is it important to know the right ways to stretch your physical body? Do we need that knowledge first before gear up and begin stretching? Without the right knowledge, can we actually cause our bodies harm? So we need to ask someone who has knowledge of the physical body and stretching? We need to find a good source for this information.
In the same way, before our hearts and spirits are stretched, resulting in growth and life, we must know the source in which to learn and gain the right knowledge from. The source of ALL life. The One who knows ALL and created ALL.
See where I am going with this?
Without the stretching, we are left stiff, hard, and in pain.
With the stretching, we will experience some pain but the pain is temporary and is followed by relief, growth, and life. We are not left in that pain.
I have noticed that I have been in a season of being stretched. It hurts because often when I am stretched, it is through trials and through seeing the ugliness of my sin. But rather than this season being temporary, it has seemingly been quite lengthy. I have wondered why at times. I have asked why at times.
And yesterday, I got my answer. I realized that I have not been going to the source as often I as need. I have been running through life, regardless of the growing pains, because life keeps going so I must keep going...right?
Life does keep going, but if I keep running through it when my body and my spirit are screaming "STOP" then it will ultimately result in pain. And if I don't go to the One who can ease my pain, well then, my pain might last a bit longer.
We often think that we are too busy to stop and sit at His feet. But truthfully, if we are too busy for that, then we are in fact, too busy.
As I said earlier, where this is growth, there is life. I want life. And I want it abundantly. This is what God has offered for those who repent, believe, and follow Him. Abundant life.
"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10
You see, if we don't stop to sit at His feet, to nourish and replenish our souls, it is much like a runner that though he is tired, thirsty and hungry, he just keeps running. His lips are parched and his body aches from hunger and exhaustion, but he does not stop. How long do you think he will make it?
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." John 6:35
My heart has been weary which has resulted in my body being tired. I have tried to carry the weight of so much and so many under the umbrella of compassion and love. While we are to bear one anothers burdens, we are not meant to carry the weight of them. We are to lay them at the feet of the One who cares for His children, the One who has already taken the weight of these burdens and sins upon Himself, the One who rose victoriously.
"Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22
I have tried to carry the weight of breaking hearts around me. I have tried to play "peace-maker" all the while knowing deep down that I, in and of myself, can bring no one peace. I have worried about sick family members, lost family members, hurting friends, and all of the incredible darkness in the world that is causing hurt pain around the world. I have worried that I will fail my children as a mother and a teacher; that my sins and short comings will cause them pain and trials; that my failure to be the best teacher will harm them academically. I have had fear in my heart over things that I simply cannot control and really and truly, things that I do not even really want control over. I find myself stressing over things like the laundry, the house, what to cook for dinner, how to help this person or the next....and so on and so on and....
And I do this without really even realizing that I am doing it. It seems like such a long list to be able to do it and not know it, but I keep running alongside life.
I keep trying to be the wife God has called me to be; to encourage my husband and care for him. I keep trying to be the mother God has called me to be; caring for my four precious children, making sure everyone is fed, has clean clothes to wear, is learning what they need to learn, and then stressing over whether each one of them has had enough quality time with me...do they really know how much they are loved? I keep running. I keep trying to be the friend that God has called me to be. I keep trying to find ways to love the many who feel unloved.
Just typing this list is exhausting.
But it's true. And do you see the phrase that is repeated throughout that last paragraph?
It is "keep trying."
Oh my....I should know this by now! I should know that every time I try to make things happen on my own, in my own strength, and even with lots of love and good intention....it is going to fail at some point and everything will eventually fall apart.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing..." John 15:4
I believe so many of us do this very thing, especially women. We do it out of heart that wants to do right and succeed but our efforts are actually sinful.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6
"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?" Luke 12:25-26
"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." Proverbs 12:25
I am so thankful for the good Word that I took in yesterday. I am thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy that He continues to shower upon me when I don't deserve it.
I am thankful that He came to give life and life abundantly.
I am thankful that He does not expect me to carry the weight of the world, or even of my little life and family.
I am thankful that Jesus carried it for me on the cross.
I am thankful that the Lord has invited me to lay these things at His feet and trust Him.
I am thankful that...
"...in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
and I am thankful for a precious friend that God gave me to share this last verse with me just yesterday, which also makes me thankful for the Lord's perfect timing. :)
So, today, I am still feeling some of the stretching but God has allowed me to see some growth too. It's the good kind of pain.