So as you may know, I went on a retreat with my church the week before last, and my last blog post was about how great that was and how different I felt afterwards. This post is about how I feel now, a week and a half later. And that’s basically like a big hypocrite.
Last week was a very hard week for me. My biggest babysitting client was traveling out of town, and since her husband works longer hours than she does, that meant longer hours for me as well. I worked four ten hour days (sometimes longer) in a row, and in the middle of that I felt pretty miserable. Let’s be honest; working ten hours in a day is not the worst thing, especially if the work is something like babysitting. It’s hard work, but it’s a job that many parents do 24/7, and it’s certainly manageable. Besides, as my good friend pointed out to me in the middle of my complaining, it’s good money and my husband and I could definitely use it.
Nevertheless, during the week I felt like such a victim. I dreaded going to work each day, especially as the “shifts” moved earlier and earlier. I lost my patience with the child that I was watching countless times, and at those points it was all I could do to deposit him into his playpen and go sit in the other room with my head in my hands. I counted the hours, minutes, and seconds until his father would return and I could go home and rest. And at the end of the week, I collected my $400 paycheck with a feeling of slight satisfaction, but mostly wondering “was that really worth it?”
Overall, this past week has done a great job of showing me just how strong (or should I say weak) my newfound joy in the Lord really is. It couldn’t even stand up to a little bit of extra work. What does that say about me, writing this blog every week and trying to point people to Jesus? Surely I’m not fit for this job.
But that’s what God has called me to do. He gave me skills and abilities for a reason, and then helped me find a small way to use them for His glory. Writing this blog every week is something that I do out of love for Him. I do enjoy it, yes, but it’s also work. And I am more than happy to do that if it has even the slightest chance of encouraging somebody in their spiritual journey! But how do I reconcile the fact that the things I say and the things I do are often quite different?
Well, for one thing I can be honest about it. I can write about it and share that with my readers. So here it is; readers, I want you to know that I’m a seriously messed up person. I truly believe in everything that I write on here, but I often can’t live up to my own advice. I go through periods of doubt, anger, and dissatisfaction with God just like anybody else. I don’t always rely on God as my rock in life, and I often try to find joy in other things. I’m not always kind, patient, and loving towards others; I can be pretty darn mean when I want to. So if reading this blog has made you think that I have it all together, then I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t. I’m just as messed up as the rest.
But that’s all okay. Because the next thing I can do is listen to Jesus. When Jesus hung on that cross and died for me, He told me that none of that matters. He took all of my mess and issues and they died with Him then and there. They no longer matter to God because Jesus covered them with a cloak of invisibility— His very own blood. And because of that, God doesn’t even see them. They’re just plain old gone.
So what do I do with that now? Where does that leave me? The answer is simple; it frees me.
Because of Jesus, I am free to move on from my issues. That doesn’t mean I still don’t struggle with them— I do. But it means that even when I struggle with them, I don’t have to feel stuck. I won’t always be this way. Jesus freed me to move past my issues, encounter new ones, and move past those as well, on and on until the day I die. Through all of those internal struggles I learn something, growing closer to God and stronger spiritually. And even in the middle of them, even when I’m writing a blog post about joy in the Lord and feeling the complete opposite, I am free to keep trying. Even though I fail, I’m able to get up and try again to be better (that’s called conviction), because Jesus gave me unlimited “get out of jail free” cards. My failures don’t hold me back because He’s with me every day and He fills me with amazing potential; reaching it is a lifelong journey that ends in Heaven where I’ll finally be perfect.
Right now, I’m sorry to say that I don’t exactly feel excited about life. I feel stuck, bored, pointless… anything but joyful. But God has promised to never leave me, and I can hold on because I know that He will pull me out of this rut. I know that He made me for a purpose and that He has great plans for my life, even when I can’t feel it. Even though last week I wrote about feeling changed from the retreat and this week I’m writing about how it all faded away so quickly, I don’t have to let that discourage me. Jesus took that failure for me long before it even happened, and left me with hope for the future. I will keep going and growing, because Jesus freed me to.