Friday, November 8, 2013

Choose Joy

Life with two babies (two and under) does not leave room for luxurious bubble baths. No shopping sprees or spontaneous road trips or quiet reading at a coffee shop. Hell, I can't even eat an Oreo unless it's naptime or after bed (unless I want to share... which I don't). Enter: sick baby. Instead of propping up my feet to watch my favorite show, I pumped milk because she had to be bottle fed. Instead of sitting down at my sewing machine, I coordinated schedules with my husband and the grandparents to shuttle off the toddler so I could make a hospital visit. Instead of sleeping, I spent hours researching medical conditions and treatments and trying not to picture the horrible-awfuls. Life as a parent of one, two, or ten babies is never a walk in the park. It's a sacrifice, made knowingly and willingly, but a sacrifice nonetheless. It's a surrendering of "me" to welcome a new "us". It's even a breaking of the first "us" (husband and wife), an opening of the gate to bring in new love. (Not that the marriage part is over, but children change the dynamic.)

My controlling nature does not deal well with change. The longer I'm married to an extremely go-with-the-flow man, the better I have gotten at letting life come as it may. But there are still parts of me that dig in my heels and say, "Hey! Wait a minute. I want to do it my way." I start to view my children as obstacles (especially when they involve things like feeding tubes and trips to the ER) instead of the sweet blessings they are. I start to wrench up my pedestal and look down at the tops of their little heads and think, Don't you know you're bothering me up here?

When that nasty little spirit of pride worms its way in, my heart becomes bitter and resentful. I want it my way, right now, make them go away. But I can't. So I put it on them. You are the reason I can't just drive to the beach right now and sprawl on the sand for three days.  You are the reason I smell like some strange cheese because I haven't showered in three days. You are the reason I don't want to get out of bed because you woke me up and I don't want to get up right now. You. You. You!

Jesus speaks these words to the gathered crowd: "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)" He is explaining to them why they shouldn't be anxious, why they shouldn't worry about the days to come. He tells them not to worry about tomorrow because right here, right now, today -- it comes with its own trouble. You don't have time to worry about tomorrow; the present is filled with its own unique difficulties. Every day comes with trials and troubles. That is the assumed standard.

But guess what else comes with every day? "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)" Mercy. Sweet, gracious mercy. For every trial that comes riding down on us, threatening to break our spirit and our bodies, the mercy of God showers us. Paul, imprisoned persecuted Paul, writes this in Philippians: "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need." He knows how to endure trial and he knows how to celebrate victories. What is his secret? The one that allows him to embrace both trouble and mercy? "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)" Jesus.

Every day promises trouble and every day promises mercy. Every day will be difficult and every day will be wonderful. You can cast your eyes on the losses, the never-ending laundry, the demanding boss, the junked up car, the whining baby; you can let your heart palpitate with the anxiety of today's troubles and tomorrow's troubles and you can go to bed with your eyes peeled open, trying to figure out how you are going to right the world. OR -- you can open your eyes to the joy. You can see the mercies, the victories, the sweet little smiles, the cleared inbox, the patter of feet running to greet you at the door,; you can rest your heart in the mercy of the Lord and hand over your today, your tomorrow, your every single day to the One who offers the water of life and fresh mercy with the sun.

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