Tag Archives: patience

Hope: Don’t Give Up {2022 Focus}

23 Mar

My word for 2022 is HOPE. The subtitle for that word is Don’t Give Up. The Scripture God gave me for the word HOPE is Lamentations 3:21-23 —

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

An alternate translation of verse 22 is:

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”

It is God’s mercy to me that I am not consumed by this season of life (parenting four young kids and homeschooling). It is because of His compassion to me that I haven’t given up and curled into the fetal position indefinitely. There are so many moments, even whole days when I am tempted to. Because it all feels like too much. From my viewpoint, I am falling short in every area — parenting, homeschooling, homemaking, personal goals.

When one is trying so hard to do something right and well, but still meeting with failure, it would be understandable to just give up, right?

But God’s steadfast love prevents me from giving up. He sustains me by giving new mercies every morning, mainly in the form of HOPE.

The way I’m viewing HOPE is this: Hope doesn’t give up. Hope doesn’t look at the challenges before it and grow discouraged. Hope isn’t cynical or pessimistic. Instead, Hope continues to believe that things can change. Hope keeps showing up, pressing forward, living faithfully into God’s calling for that day. Hope accepts what God allows, even if it is not what was wanted.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had to “call to mind” God’s mercies for HOPE so far this year.

When I want to work out in the morning, and be productive after the kids go to bed, but sleep deprivation from baby Neola makes extra sleep the greater priority, I have to remind myself of hope.

When I feel incapable and daunted by the thought of and need for potty training Corbin and sleep training Neola, I remind myself of hope.

When the girls are showing troublesome attitudes and Corbin is throwing yet another tantrum, and I am tempted to feel like I’ve failed them as a mother because of what I’ve allowed them to do, or acted like myself, I remind myself of hope.

My natural human reaction to these discouraging and overwhelming situations is self-pity. Like Oswald Chambers writes,

“Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity.”

(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

But HOPE reminds me that I don’t have to give up, or collapse in the face of these challenges. God gives new mercies. I can trust Him to keep providing, day by day, what I need. I can trust Him even if I don’t meet my goals, if I lose my temper again, if my house is a mess, if I can’t figure out how to get Neola to sleep better. My purposes may remain unfulfilled, but HIS purposes will be accomplished.

God’s provision of new mercies every day won’t mean that I wake up in the morning or enter different situations feeling competent or on top of things. I hardly ever feel that way, and I actually think that is intentional on God’s part. Jesus fed 5,000-plus people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He didn’t produce a banquet table laden with food. He just stretched the existing food farther. He takes the little that we have, and He makes it enough, as we need it.

As I’ve been digging into Lamentations 2:21-25, I read in a John Piper sermon transcript (from almost exactly 28 years ago),

“Our task today is not to have the strength needed for tomorrow’s burdens. Our task today is to live by the mercies given for today, and to believe that there will be new mercies for tomorrow. Today’s mercies do not include strength for tomorrow; they include faith that tomorrow’s unseen mercies will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

(John Piper, “Today’s Mercies for Today’s Troubles,” March 13, 1994)

I love that. Like the manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness, God gives just enough for each day. I must live in moment by moment dependence on Him. And because His provision of mercy for this day, this moment is always sufficient (and abundantly so!) for my need, I can always have HOPE.

Here’s to a hope-filled year.

No excuses.

20 Sep

I’ve been noticing something lately: I hold Travis to the ridiculous, unrealistic standards that I hold myself to.

This isn’t exactly a news flash.

But it is something that I’ve been seeing with new eyes.

I’ve noticed it mainly in regards to the triathlon Travis just did. Over the months leading up to it, I was tempted to (and honestly, sometimes did) nag Travis about training. In my head, you just follow the plan. Not brain science.

I chalked Travis not following the plan up to his being lazy. Or indifferent. Or silently wishing he hadn’t been talked into doing a race.

Surely he doesn’t have a good excuse.

Now, I am reminded that he is working full-time and getting his Master’s. Oh and his job shipped him out to Timbuktu Utah to do God-knows-what (which they’re talking about again, if you can believe that!) for a couple weeks. Then there’s that little thing called a house, the yard I look at through my window, the car I drive to work every day, those things happening at church, and that thing called hockey that always happens after I’m in bed. Oh and bills.

He might be a tad busy.

You see, Travis did get distracted from training. He did allow other things to get in the way. But they were things like fixing our car himself to save us $600. And shooting us two antelope so we won’t starve during the long, cold winter. And refinancing our mortgage to save us money.

I want to say, “There’s no excuse. You didn’t follow the training plan and that’s all there is to it.”

But I really should say, “You were busy. You have a lot going on. It’s totally understandable. And you did a fantastic job anyway!”

Here’s what I actually said: “You should go disqualify yourself from the results.”

Let me explain: Minutes after I crossed the finish line on Saturday, Travis informed me that he “had run the entire run course on the road.” Since the run course was mostly on a sidewalk or trail, I assumed Travis had run the wrong course. How would he know if the course he ran was 3.1 miles? He wouldn’t. Ergo, he should disqualify himself.

What he really meant was that instead of going back up on the trail at the end of the run, he accidentally just stayed on the road until it met up with that trail. It was pretty much the same distance either way. Oh.

Needless to say, Travis’ enthusiasm was completely deflated with my no-nonsense response. Poor guy. Here he is, just completed his first triathlon and I tell him to go disqualify himself. It was a misunderstanding, I swear!!

Anyway, that whole situation has shown me that I hold Travis to unrealistic standards. Like when he gets sick and wants to just lay on the couch. My natural inclination is to say, “Oh quit being a whiny baby. You’re not that sick.”

Or when Travis remarks to me that 3 minutes is pretty good for his first transition and I reply, “Well, a good T1 is actually only 2 minutes.”

Men aren’t the only ones who say stupid things without thinking.

Because I expect too much of Travis, I hardly ever encourage him – I’m too busy fixating on what he hasn’t done or hasn’t done well enough.

In reality, he does a lot of most things right. He deserves more credit than I give him.

So I’m going to try to let go of my expectations, have faith in Travis’ abilities, and look for the things he does right. I think he’d appreciate that.

 

 

When it rains, it pours.

20 Apr

The past week and a half have been ridiculously busy. Mostly because we got a new dog who isn’t completely potty-trained but also partly because I have had dinner dates, church functions, and job interviews to attend.

Without going into all of the boring details, I will just say that there have been several days with things that have gone wrong, taken forever, been frustrating, or days that just seem so jam-packed with stuff to do that I don’t see how it will all get done. When I am not being anxious or angry, I am actually sort of excited about all the stuff going on, the trials, the challenges, and the anxiety because it has allowed me to put my theories about the Christian life and walking with God to the test. Kind of like, how do they withstand trials and struggles?

Well, I’m happy to say that the truths are true. They’re just impossible for me to practically follow. It’s amazing how in the times when everything is going fairly smoothly and I’m happy and peaceful, trusting in God seems easy and I feel like I am actually doing it. But when the road gets rough and things start to fall apart, that’s when I stop trusting God. The times when I need God most are the times that I turn from Him. Does that make ANY sense at all?

This is what I wrote in my journal this past Sunday morning: “I’ve been saying lately that the Christian life is simple and yet impossible. Trusting God for everything–validation, security, comfort, provision, identity, etc.–is where we find joy and peace, yet it is the hardest thing for humans to do!

“Upon first thought, it seemed like God had designed us to be completely incapable of being good and relying upon Him, even though the result was more sin on our part. Is God more concerned with our reliance upon Him than our sanctification? Verses like 1 Thess. 4:3 seemed to contradict that.

“Then I thought of Jesus, who was holy and perfectly dependent on the Father. So reliance on God is God’s way of sanctifying us. It is only as we rely on God that we become holy. Relying on God and being sanctified are one in the same thing.

“All of our sins are failures to rely on God–to find everything we desire and long for in Him.”

The Christian life is really so simple. We walk through every day in communion with God as we trust His sovereignty and wisdom, His goodness to us in all circumstances, and accept everything from His hand. But that is definitely easier said than done!

Last Thursday morning, I was at my breaking point. Charlie had peed inside the house AGAIN, I was frustrated and impatient with her constant need for attention and decision to get up at 6 am every morning, I had another interview that afternoon (which I was dreaded since the one I had had on Tuesday went horribly), and I had another full day ahead of me. I felt pulled in a hundred different directions, with no time for me or rest or reading or fun. I was ready to blow a gasket and was wondering, “Didn’t God say that He provided grace in the time of need? Well, I need grace. I’m asking for grace. But I don’t feel Him providing it because I am just barely making it through today.”

During my coffee time with my friend Cathy, I asked her what God’s practical provision of grace looks like. I explained to her my situation and on the verge of tears, told her that I didn’t feel God’s grace because I just wanted to crawl back into bed every morning. She told me that just the fact that I haven’t thrown in the towel, haven’t crawled back into bed and abandoned my responsibility is God’s strength to me. Just like in exercise, we have to burden our bodies with almost more than we think we can handle in order to grow stronger. You don’t grow stronger by lifting manageable weights.

As soon as she said that, the tears started falling. I felt God saying to me, “I am growing you through this.” I felt burdened beyond my strength but I hadn’t given up. The next day, I read this in Elisabeth Elliot’s Keep a Quiet Heart from Lamentations 3, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” I am humbled once again by how quick I am to accuse God of abandoning me when He has been carrying me through the trials of my life.

As much as I have struggled with being busy, I do see the Lord’s mercies to me in this season. I just found out yesterday that I got a job as a Marketing Communications Copy Editor! (Praise the Lord for His provision!) So those early mornings with Charlie? Preparation for going back to work. Having a lot to accomplish in one day? Preparation for having a full-time job again. God is slowly easing me back into the working world, one trial at a time.

I am so utterly grateful to God that even though I continue to doubt Him and question His ways, He continues to give me grace, insight, and understanding sufficient to continue on in faith. My impatience and anger with my dogs this past week have stood in stark contrast to God’s infinite faithfulness, patience, long-suffering, and love toward me. I am so humbled.

Back to where I started

12 Feb

As I was pondering my marriage last night, and why I still struggle with feeling annoyed all the time at my husband’s displays of affection (which, for those who don’t know, include butt slapping, boob grabbing, tummy squeezing, and other things I won’t describe), I decided that the big virtue I’m missing is patience. The biggest reason why Travis annoys me is because I always feel bothered, interrupted. He’ll try to hug me in the middle of me doing the dishes. Or he’ll have to grab me while I’m drying my hair. My inner (and sometimes outer) voice asks, “Why can’t he just wait until I’m done?” Then I realize that I’m never “done,” especially in the morning. I always have an agenda, things I have on my mental tasklist. When I get in “Task Mode,” as I like to call it, I act like a bulldozer: “Get out of my way or I’ll run you over.”

When I was single and even while we were dating/engaged, I had plenty of “me time,” time when I could be as efficient and task-oriented as I wanted to be. I didn’t have to stop for or be interrupted by anyone wanting attention, as Travis so often does.  

My problem is that I am always kind of in that mode. I am an efficient, task-oriented person. It is not like me to dawdle, lag, or lollygag. I don’t even know if I can do those things. Travis, on the other hand, is a more relaxed person. The only time I can imagine him being in Task Mode is when he’s out in the garage, working on whatever he works on out there. (And during those times, I hardly ever bother him, and I never bother him for hugs and kisses because he’s dirty and sweaty!!) Most of the time, Travis is watching TV, reading, looking up sports scores (a mind-numbing activity if you ask me), or researching random things on the internet. He hardly ever minds when I interrupt him and even less so if it’s for physical affection.

So I see that I need patience and humility. I realized last Saturday that I had been subconsciously demanding everything be my way or the highway (but really, I want it to be my way). When we first moved out to Colorado, I had done a one-day, skimming-the-surface topical study on each Fruit of the Spirit. So last night I looked up my journal entry on patience. And there it was, clear as day:

“To be patient and endure undesirable circumstances, I must be humble. I must renounce all my claims to have things, people, and situations be what I want them to be.

That was written on November 12, 2007.

WHAT?!?!? I knew that back THEN and am only realizing it again NOW, a year and a half later? That was exactly what I realized on Saturday and there it was, sitting in my journal all this time. I’m back to where I started.

I am thankful today that God is faithful and most of all, patient. He waited until I was ready to surrender my own efforts and rely on Him to remind me of this truth, a truth that I happened upon unexpectedly 15 months ago.