About a year and a half ago I wrote a blog post. The premise of the post was about battles. I was in a season of calm and was relishing in the blessings and provision of God. It was a good time, but I pictured myself standing at the corner of the boxing ring. My gloves were off, I was taking a break, breathing deeply and drinking some water. The calm I was sitting in felt wonderful, but I pictured myself glancing at the boxing gloves. Would I have to put them back on again? When would that time be?
Fast forward to now. The gloves are on, they’ve been on for several months now. I feel like every time I catch my breath, life throws another punch. I wasn’t ready for the gloves to be back on. I wasn’t ready for the next round. But it didn’t wait for me to prepare myself, it came charging in. So here I stand, proverbially bruised and weary from the fight. I thought this round would be over at a certain point, there seemed to be a distinct end date, but it hasn’t ended. So I find myself staring at the ceiling, willing myself to do what I need to do but wanting to hide. I feel my breath catching in my throat as another issue springs forward. I’ve had some physical reactions to stress and worry that seem to come one after another. I go from guilt (why can’t I just handle it) to self pity (woe is me, things are so hard) to ambivalence (just screw it all, I don’t even care anymore). Sometimes those moods will switch as the day progresses.
I said that I wasn’t ready for this battle, but life didn’t wait for me to prepare myself. And I’ll tell you why I wasn’t ready for this round. I haven’t learned my lesson, I haven’t learned to trust. I’m clinging to my talents, experience, and ability to “handle it” instead of just handing it over to the One who wants to carry all my burdens.
You see, last year my summer was stressful as I was in between jobs and had no idea how God would provide. The summer of 2012 was overwhelming- my job was in shambles and I was completely miserable. The summer before that was overwhelming and uncertain. Brent and I had just gotten married, I was looking for a job while trying to learn how to be a wife. And in the summer of 2010 I struggled with anxiety and doubt. I had a bit of a reprieve in 2009, but in the spring and summer of 2008 I sank into a pit of low self esteem and near depression, a quarter life crisis of sorts. I could keep going, but you get the gist- me and summer have a rocky relationship.
Now, as I read over the previous paragraphs, my initial reaction is embarrassment. What are people going to say? Does everyone think I’m pathetic and weak? I have this constant inner struggle to have it all together. I am always ‘fine’, everything is always ‘okay’ even when it really isn’t. I’ve used (read: distorted) all sorts of scripture passages to justify my need to always be okay.
But you know what? Things aren’t always okay. They aren’t always okay for anyone. We live in this social media world where we see everyone’s beautiful pictures and happy status updates. We inwardly think that they have perfect lives and not a care in the world. But that’s not true! We all have struggles, we all at times find ourselves nearly passed out from a fistfight with life that leaves us wondering how we’ll go on. Being weak and not being okay does not make you or I any less of a person, or less of a Christian We are all valued and loved by God, no matter if things are good, bad or in between.
And, just like last year and the many summers before, I’m remembering that God pulls me through the battles in ways that I can’t even comprehend. He kneels down beside us and heals our wounds. He picks us up, takes the gloves off our hands, and fights for us. Scripture is clear on this truth.
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” Ex. 14:14
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matt 11:28
“You are my strength, I watch for you, my God, you are my fortress” – Ps 59:9
There are many, many more verses and stories where God has come through for His children. I can share stories, and I imagine you can too. But it’s so easy to forget when we feel like we’re getting punched in the gut every five seconds. Today, I’m trying to remind myself to not forget. And if you’ve made it this far in this post, thank you. When I started writing tonight, I was on the verge of tears and had a sinking feeling in my stomach about the week ahead. I really planned for the post to end differently, but I feel like God began to work in my heart as I typed, bringing scripture to memory and reminding me of all He’s done. It’s sort of like writing therapy I guess. Is there perfect peace right now? No, but I’m getting there.
Friends, we can’t forget all He’s done and all He’s promised us to do. Hand the gloves over to him and remember that we just need to be still.