As a woman, I understand all too well what it feels like to ride the “roller coaster” of human emotions. Up one minute, down the next. I know that true joy is based on Jesus, and happiness is based on happenings. Sometimes, however, I only look at the happenings of life. Needless to say, they aren’t always happy happenings. Have you noticed that people can disappoint? Jesus never disappoints.(We may be disappointed in the answers He gives us, but He always knows what’s best for us.) People can lie, Jesus never lies. People forget about you, Jesus never forgets you. People will remember, and remind you, of your past sin. Once forgiven, Jesus will never remember it, nor remind us. (I John 1:9 and Ps.103:12)
We are all still robed in flesh, and as a woman, I fight my emotions more than anything else. I fight being impatient with people, mostly my kids! I fight the feeling of telling someone what I think of _________(whatever). I fight being selfish, unforgiving, depressed, discouraged, and the list goes on and on.
This past Sunday, Terry and I had Satan on our backs, it seemed. We were let down by, you guessed it, people! Right before our evening services, Terry realized that our neighbor boy had locked our van that afternoon while playing with the kids. The problem was that our only set of keys was in that van. Thankfully, the car happens to be running right now, we used it to get to church. But what a bummer for Terry right before he was to stand and preach God’s Word! The list could go on. Sunday was just not a good day for “happenings”.
I’m reminded, however, that my life is not lived for events, but for people. Yes, those people that “disappoint” and “forget”.More specifically, for a Person. I live my life each day trusting that He will care for me, guide me and even correct me when I need it.
As I arrived home to my less-than-spotless living room, and faced the mountains of laundry and the five hungry people waiting to be fed, I wanted to cry. I was so lonely and discouraged. I wanted to wallow in it. The Holy Spirit said to me, as I mentally rattled off all the people that I knew so I could call and whine to them, that I didn’t need to be consoled by “people”. I remembered 1 Sam. 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (David had people problems too!)
I thought to myself “Yeah, ya wimp. Why can’t you just encourage yourself, huh?” So I did! I started singing “Wings as Eagles” by Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate). Boy! Did it do the trick! My heart truly did sore as I sang the second verse:
Let us run the race with patience, Let us lay each weight aside,
Looking only unto Jesus, He will be our faithful guide.
He has run the race before us, He has won the victor’s crown,
And He calls to every Christian “Follow me, to higher ground!”
That last part really encouraged me! In my mind, I could see Him smiling and motioning for me to keep climbing up that mountain of discouragement. The view from the top is wonderful, but it’s a lot of work to get there. I can’t control people, but I can control ME!
Now, I would be struck dead right now at this computer if I told you that “Now, I’m ALWAYS on top side!” (smiling broadly with a sparkle in my eye) So, I won’t tell you that. I’ll tell you, that since Sunday night, I’ve been down again and again. I can also tell you though, that I don’t stay down.
Here are some tips that have helped me this week, and in weeks past, as I have dealt with loneliness, discouragement and even some depression now and then.
1. Stay in your Bible. Don’t neglect your walk with God even though it seems the heavens are brass and your prayers are led- and I have felt that way at times! Keep going. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Heb.13:5. Claim those precious promises. God always keeps His Word!
2. Refuse self-pity. I posted about this before, and I don’t know how to link you to it. (If you want to read that post, it is under “2007” in my archives. It is entitled “Survival and Self Pity”) It’s an emotional death trap. If you give in to self-pity, it won’t take 10 minutes before you feel you are the most troubled and forsaken person in the world. Fight it.
3. Exercise mind control. Yes, do control your mind. If you don’t, your burdens will! Dwell on scripture, get busy on something that requires brain power. You know, don’t do dishes or vacuum. Read, write, play an instrument.
4. Listen to good music or sermons. Do you have the Internet? (Okay, I guess so or you wouldn’t be reading this!) Need I say more? There are hundreds, yea, thousands of sermons for free on the Internet. Check out http://www.sermonaudio.com/ or my personal fave, http://www.biblewaytexas.com/ for some great preaching.
5. Think about others. I can’t get out of the house a lot because I have four young kiddos at home all the time. (I home school) But, I do try to call others and write notes to those who may need a lift. When I stop and think of others, it doesn’t take long for me to see someone who has it harder than I do!
6. Do something. Don’t give in to the desire to eat, lie down and watch TV. My Mom tutors kids in Algebra II. She also goes soul winning every week, teaches Sunday School, cleans a portion of the church, leads a ladies group, writes endless notes of encouragement to others…I’m sure I’ve left out something.The point is, she stays busy. If you aren’t naturally busy, then get busy. How can we be worried or depressed if we’re trying to hang curtains just right, or work on a scrapbook or clean out a closet or figure out what “y” equals?
7. Live by the same schedule everyday. This has been so important to me. I do the same things at the same time of day as much as I can. It’s good for you to sleep the same number of hours, eat at the same time everyday, etc.
8. And one more: Laugh. Laughter is good medicine. So, do what I do when I need a laugh- go look in the mirror! It gets me everytime. If you aren’t funny to look at, then laugh at someone who is…just kidding. Really, get out an “I Love Lucy” or an Andy Griffith and have a good laugh. It will do you, and your abs, good!
I wish I could say that I’ve always been upbeat and positive. I cannot. I wish I could say that I never give in to my flesh. Again, honesty forbids me to say this. I have learned that even when I fail Him, He is there. I feel like I’ve always let Him down.
Believe me, as a kid, the folks in my church did NOT look at me and say “Hey, there goes a future Pastor’s Wife!” No way. I’m more shocked than anyone at the things God has allowed me to see and do. Yet, why does He put up with me? I don’t know why! I am just so glad He does! I love my home Pastor, Bro. Ken Graham, so much. I hardly go through a day where some of his teaching doesn’t come to mind. I often think of this quote that he used often: “I find it interesting that people think that after they get saved, they can live any way they want! That’s not true. If I could live any way I wanted now that I’m saved, I’d never sin again.” That’s how I feel. I wish I’d never let anyone down, but I have. I wish I’d never been disloyal, hateful or impatient. But I have been all of those things before. I’m so thankful His forgiveness is endless!
If Jesus-sinless, perfect Jesus- can keep loving me, and letting me continue to breathe, after I’ve failed Him so much, then I – sinful, imperfect Valerie – should be able to forgive the people who have hurt me.