My husband was out of town this weekend for work. I like to stay busy (sometimes to a fault) to help pass the time. Saturday started out nicely with a 5k. It was a great race and I beat my best time! Since it was cold and rainy, I gave the kids a bath to warm them up afterward, and even baked cookies. By 4:30, we were packed and ready to go to a cookout that has long been on our calendar.
And it was then I realized I was done. I should have seen it coming, but the second we arrived, I knew I was only going to be chasing my kids around – and I was in no mood to do so. Suffice it to say, I was a tense, exhausted, tantrumy-kid-toting mommy who had zero ability to enjoy the company of her friends. Excellent.
On my way home, in between bouts of my daughter’s screaming, I realized I had just shown my friends a lot of what I like to keep hidden about myself: my snappy responses when people asked me questions, my increased levels of sarcasm, my patented stressouts that I can’t hide to save my life. Have you ever wished you could be as cool as a cucumber in front of others only to fail miserably?
Are you still with me? Hang in there – I do have a point. This morning I was scheduled to lead Sunday school with the same group of people. I was dreading it. I wanted to just hide under my covers and come out only when six months or so had passed. To top it off, my daughter (the same charmer from last night), decided to pitch another fit as soon as it was time to leave for church. I crashed to my knees and started bawling – I just couldn’t handle anything else. I wanted to stay home. I wanted to avoid my responsibilities. I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to fail again.
My husband (who was home by this point), gently reminded me that I needed to go, and I would be fine – that God would give me the strength I was so lacking. Before I could roll my eyes, he said, “I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth!” So even though I didn’t want to, I climbed in the car and cried my way to church (accompanied by my daughter’s continued tantrumy nonsense).
Coffee in hand, I faced my Sunday school class – and quietly told them some of the stress, embarrassment, and humbling I was going through. They didn’t give me pat answers – they just supported me. I started with a confessional prayer and pressed on into the lesson, even though I didn’t want to in the slightest. And God was there – taking my control-freak consequences and turning my anguish into joy. The lesson went fine, the discussion great. Afterward, I said, “Church did its job today – I came here feeling like crap, and I’m leaving feeling spiritually renewed!” I honestly had much lower expectations for God, my friends, and myself. Hopefully I won’t make that mistake again.
It seems all too fitting to share the following verses with you:
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.”
Philippians 3: 12-14 (NLT, emphasis mine)
Lord, thank you for wanting us to be more than what we are right now. Thank you for your presence that gently pushes us forward when we dig our heels in our own acts of stubbornness and pride. Thank you for running the race before us and with us. Please help us persevere when we feel like giving up. Amen.
What is stressing you out today? Can you use a push from Jesus to keep going?