Monday, July 28, 2014

Joy In The Morning

It's mornings like today that I find it incredibly easy to think on God and thank him for his blessings.  It is something I try to do regularly anyway...but when the temperature is 66 and there is a nice breeze out, and it just begins to hint at the fall weather coming in a couple of months, I find myself filled with joy and gratitude for this life I have been blessed with.

I've been going stir crazy these last two weeks.  After surgery, my restrictions have left me trapped in both my house and a hard neck collar.  No riding in a car for two weeks.  Today is my day that I want to run outside (only I'm not allowed to run...) screaming "FREEDOM!!!" in true Braveheart fashion.  Not only do I get to ride in a car today, I actually have somewhere to go, friends I get to see!  A week ago, I couldn't imagine wanting to leave the house and be around people.  But now that I've been cooped up with nothing to do except binge watch Netflix and take short walks around the block in the heat of summer, I am ready to get out of the house!

Waiting is hard.  Be patient during recovery is hard.  Following ALL of the doctor's orders is hard.  Having people around me constantly holding me accountable is annoying!  Kris and the kids have made me adhere to a strict "Don't do anything!" regimen.  And even though a half full gallon of milk does not weigh more than 8 pounds, they rarely let me even pour my own milk.  I have found that it is incredibly difficult to depend on other people.  We have friends at church bringing us meals to make life easier and while I appreciate it more than I can express, it is hard to be humble enough to admit that we need help.

All of that points my mind back to how dependent I need to be on God.  All of these rules I'm following, all of this care I am taking to have the best recovery possible, with the eventual and hopeful outcome being that I am finally completely healed, is essential!  And isn't that just what God wants us to understand with our broken and hurting hearts?

Sometimes the healing is painful.  Believe me-coming out of anesthesia is always the worst experience for me.  While Morphine might work for almost everyone, and at a fairly quick rate, it is NOT the same for me.  I spend 2-3 hours in recovery while the nurses futilely try to get the pain under control.  I always have to whisper, gritting my teeth through the pain, that morphine does not work.  Then I have to wait while they call the surgeon and get approval to use something stronger.  You'd think I would learn by now to REMEMBER to remind the surgeon that they need to use something stronger than Morphine in the initial recovery/waking up period.

Maybe it's because I'm stubborn, and maybe God just wants me to use this as an analogy for the pain we experience on a regular basis.  When the initial wound is inflicted (in my case taking an ice pick to my hip and chipping away bone, then cutting open my neck and digging around and placing said bone in my neck the pulling it all back together again), and you become aware of it, the pain is immediate and nearly unmanageable.  Sometimes the usual methods of dealing with pain (prayer, talking with a friend, begging God to just take it away so you don't have to FEEL anymore) don't work.  Sometimes you need something stronger.  Sometimes your recovery period is longer than the person next to you.  Sometimes what works for one person won't work for you.

But here's the truth.  The pain is ALWAYS manageable.  No matter how great it is, no matter what correct and healthy method is used, the pain does recede.  And maybe, like me, you have to force yourself to slow down and focus on one thing: resting.  Sometimes you may need to stop all of the activity, all of the heavy lifting (working, heavy lifting, running to escape the pain) and just prop your feet up and be still.

Be still and know that I am God...
Psalm 46:10

And the being still part is NOT easy.  Especially when you are living a fast-paced life and working hard to provide financially for others.  In some ways, I am a workaholic.  While I don't work 50-60 hours a week, I work hard and if I need to stay late (and am able), I will.  I do what it takes to get the job done.  The thought of being off work for at least six weeks is a hard pill to swallow.  Not just because of the financial loss which hits so hard.  I think about work when I'm not at work.

Last night, in the midst of a complete "freak out" session over pretty much everything-including but not limited to the fact that the a/c quit working in the house, Kris hadn't shaved his face in over a week, the pain I was in, being tired from getting four hours of sleep the night before-I found myself thinking about how the company I work for will be closing out their month this week.  And I began to think about all the work that would need to get done, and how I wasn't going to be there to help.  It wasn't some sense of arrogance where I thought they couldn't survive without me.  It was from a place of feeling as if I was failing somehow for not being there.  The end of the month is always a busy time and I am usually able to kick it into high gear and work with the team to ensure it all gets done.  And I found myself filled with worry over a job I am not even allowed to be at right now.

That's when the obsessing started, and I began to think about what it would be like when I did return to work, if I would know how to find everything that I left on my desk that may still need to be done, and very specific questions began running through my mind.  I wasn't sure if I could sleep until I emailed our I.T. person and asked about something-though fortunately for everyone involved I came to my senses before taking it that far and disturbing said coworker on a Sunday night.

My point is this.  It was when the obsessing over work began that I again heard God whisper, "Be still."  Actually, what I think he said was "Oh for crying out loud Jamie.  Sit down and shut up!  It's all under control and YOU do not need to be the one to think about this right now."

So instead, I lashed out at Kris' un-shaved face (don't judge me!) and found myself reclined in my chair bawling and having a complete meltdown.  About the fact that it was 187 degrees in my house.  About Kris' face.  About the work that will need to be done while I'm not there to help.  About the work that I'll need to do when I get back.  About being stuck in the house, unable to do anything for myself.  About the kids and their eventual whining and fighting that seems to occur whenever Kris leaves the house.  I just lost it.

Sometimes, we need to deal with the weight that is hanging around our necks.  For me, it was quite literal and figurative.  I had to acknowledge every single thing, stupid or not, that was sending me into full panic mode, and I had to let go of it.  I had to take a step back and remind myself that the pain is not the end.  And sitting outside right now, enjoying this beautiful morning, my mind things back to Psalm 30:5:

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (NLT)

Joy comes with the morning.

And you know what?  This morning I AM joyful.  I woke up with less pain than I've had thus far, the temperature right now is perfect, Kris and I had an amazing but short talk about what God has done in our lives and how HE is changing us, and I am filled with joy.  Joy quite literally came with the morning.  I LOVE when God shows up like that.

Here is a truth that you may find hard to believe in your darkest moments:  God ALWAYS shows up.  In fact, He's never far from you.

His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way towards him and find him--though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:27

He's always right there, ready to be the one you run to when the pain is blinding.  When it hurts so bad that you feel like you just can't take it anymore.  When YOU can't get the pain under control on your own, there is always something stronger that can help.  It's never the easy way, trusting God when it doesn't make sense.  It most certainly is not the easy way.  But it is the right way, and it is the quickest way to find healing.

This entire process of marriage restoration has been one big lesson in learning that recovery and healing is hard.  Sometimes is seems near impossible.  It is not easy.  But when you invite God into the healing process, it will always be the right choice.  It's doing it on our own that gets us so screwed up.  Looked at me and Kris.  An addict of 20+ years and and a lying adulterer.  We tore our marriage vows to shred, and ourselves and each other in the process.  And yet, here we are.  Two and a half years later.  Praising God for pulling the rug out from under us, taking the scales from our eyes and our hearts, exposing the dark and ugly truth.  Because without that, we would not be experiencing the healing and restoration we are now living.  We are a miracle.  Not because we did anything to save us, but because God saved us.  Because we listened when God called us to fight for our marriage.  Because we took the slow and painful steps to recover from deep wounds we had inflicted upon ourselves and one another.  Because we accepted the pain and chose to fight through it, knowing that in the end, we would find complete healing.

  • God can fix the un-fixable.  How else can you explain the birth of Isaac, born long after his mother was too old to carry a child?

Genesis 18:13-14 NIV
Then the Lord said to Abraham, '"Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?'  Is anything too hard for the Lord?  I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son."

  • He can make impossible the possible.  The disciples thought that Jesus was crazy when Jesus told a rich young man that the way to be perfect, to be saved, was to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor.  The man went away sad, because he couldn't bear the thought of giving up his money.  Jesus told the disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.  Rightly so, as we humans think, they asked him, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'
Matthew 19:21-26 NIV

  • God can heal the deepest pain in your heart.  I know this, because I have experienced it. Whether it is harm done to you, or mistakes you have made that have left you wounded beyond repair, you can be healed.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

This morning, scrolling through Facebook I found this posted by 99.1 JoyFM:

"Ever feel like Job? (God allowed him to lose everything.) If so, be inspired by Job's response to his loss.... "Job fell to the ground and worshipped saying God gives, God takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:20-21. May our first thought always be to trust and bless God. He is faithful. - Sandi"

I just wanted to add one thing to that.  Yes, Job lost everything.  Yes, he also praised God through it and is an excellent example of how God restores the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).  And this is that part of Job's story that I love the most and that I believe Kris and I are experiencing now:

So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning...
Job 42:12

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