I preach a lot to myself. I see things every day that make me think about what I am doing to work on my relationship with God and I wonder, what if? I see people all around me who have lots of friends, they go out and have drinks or watch the game, they spend quality time with their kids who are practically grown themselves or they simply go out and experience the world around them. I admit, I get a little jealous because it’s all out there on Facebook for me to see and to envy.
My perspective is that these people are constantly in contact with each other and have a close sense of community. Of course, that’s what everyone on Facebook wants me to see anyway. I see all their pictures of smiles and laughs. I see them participating in events like races, or festivals and then I turn and look at my own life. My dull, boring life which consists of waking each morning, doing my Bible study, going to work, talking to a few people on the phone, and coming home to figure out what to make for dinner for me and my husband as our children are grown and out of the house. What if?
I see all of the struggles my children are going through. One, who has developed such a low self-esteem that alcohol seems to be her answer and has a chip on her shoulder defying authority. The other who is just anxious to find his purpose and get on with it, worrying that every decision he makes is the wrong one. I look on and feel kind of helpless because for the last 24 years it has been my job to guide them and correct them and love them. Now, all I can do is guide them very little and only when they ask for it. My correction often goes immediately out the window when they hear it because they don’t have the sight to see my experienced perspective. Even my love is often overlooked because they are too involved in what they are going through. What if?
Then, I turn and look at myself. What have I been doing all of these years to have contributed to such a topsy-turvy life with little to show for it? I guess first, I need to ask what is it that I am hoping to show and who am I wanting to show it to? Well, the truthful answer is I am hoping to show a perfect family and life to all of those people out there in Facebook land who don’t even really care. What if?
My heart knows better than all of this and every day I have to overcome this overwhelming temptation to concede to the devil that I am a failure as a mother, as a friend and as a person. I see clearly that this is the same feeling my daughter is experiencing and I know it is not my responsibility take that away. I didn’t give it to her and I certainly didn’t make her accept it. I have realized that for my own life and I do not blame anyone for any of the wrong feelings I may have entertained in my life, no one but myself because I didn’t refuse them when they first popped up. What if?
You see, I realize that the devil has been working underground in my life to attack me by surprise by my own feelings. He has sneaked into my heart to make me feel unworthy of any good things if I would accept them. He has fed me lies that I am really on my own and God will not help me as long as I continue to feel guilty and unlovable. He has pounded into my head that I am really disobedient in everything and I will eventually be punished for it all. What if?
Look, I know that I have been disobedient in a lot of things, but that hasn’t kept God from loving me. What I have failed to remember during my harshest times of guilt is that my heart is in deep want and need of God’s protection and love. My heart is the key to this whole thing and I am constantly talking to God about it. My heart recognizes the many mistakes I have made through the deceit I thought was true. My heart desires to draw near to God and when I do, I have the peace I have craved all along. I don’t look at Facebook friends with envy because I’m glad to see joy on their faces. I don’t look at my family with worry because I have proof in my own life that God can pull us out of anything and make us look toward Him.
Yes, everyday is a new challenge, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. It doesn’t have to be losing battle even though we are definitely fighting in a war. I am encouraged by the many encounters I read about in the Bible where God takes the weakest man or army and catapults them into victory. David, Elijah, Gideon, Jacob, especially Paul. Paul, who was so anti-Christian he was willing to kill them all, but God saw his heart and moved in him to help him see the truth, Christ who died for us all. Paul was so weak with hatred weighing him down that God had to blind him completely in order to open his eyes. I think that’s the most beautiful thing, to know that God would allow my suffering in order to save me. It humbles me and strengthens me all at once. What if?