The Deepest & Darkest Depths of my Soul

I’m speaking on Sunday at church, and as I was writing my sermon I found myself typing “the darkest depths of my soul” and had a good laugh over how dramatic that sounded.

My sermon is about the spiritual responsibility that comes with parenting, and about how it is our job to model what a right relationship with God looks like to our children.  If I just say that I believe in God, but don’t allow that belief to have an effect on my daily life and decisions, I am teaching Eden that Christianity is just a persona, or a cause that we like to identify with.

In my experience, God is after the darkest depths of my soul.  He wants to rip out all the rot that I have allowed to decay in the back of my heart.  The sin that I let my mind skim over, the indulgence that I justify, the inactivity where I need discipline.  God is all about pushing me to give him more than I initially wanted to.

It starts with choosing mundane obedience when I am tempted by flashy indulgence.  Learning how to meditate and pray, choosing to give of myself by tithing and fasting.  It continues as I figure out what it will actually take for me to obey the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart.  As I build that foundation of discipline and obedience, God asks for me to air out the dark places that I had been hoping he didn’t notice.  Every time I submit a part of my heart, he asks for another one.  Till I am stubbornly shouting, “I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO GIVE YOU THAT MUCH, STOP PUSHING YOUR LUCK.”

It sucks, really.  The process is rough.  It makes me look weak and it forces me to back track and make things right where I went wrong.  It calls for humility and some self-deprivation (*gasp*).

But my kid needs to see that.  When she is 16 and being told that all the cool kids are into sexting and cyber bullying, I want her to have the wherewithal to realize that a life built on self-gratification only leads to grasping for the next worthless thing.  A life built on trust and obedience may seem narrow-minded, but it is really the best way for God to mold you into someone beautiful and strong, ready and able to do good works, not bogged down by sin and selfishness.  I want her to see the value of following Christ wholeheartedly.

So, that is the gist of my sermon.  Being a mom has made me more aware of the responsibility I have to raise this little soul with a foundation in the truth.  My choices, actions, past & present sin all affect how she perceives God.  And I take that responsibility very seriously.

Cycles

I have heard that depression can reoccur as you cycle through the year and hit an anniversary of something traumatic.  I never thought about that too much, because I didn’t think that depression was something that I dealt with.  But coming up on the end of February and the beginning of March, I realized that this was happening to me.

Last year, I left a good company that I had worked for 6 years.  I thought that I was making a great choice to move from banking into marketing, which is something I have always been interested in.  And it wasn’t all bad.  There was a lot about marketing that I liked, and there was a lot about working at a small company in downtown Lancaster that I liked.  But from the very beginning I felt dissension with my coworkers, especially my boss.  The next few weeks I worked really hard to communicate well and excel at my assignments, but nothing helped, and one Friday I was called into the conference room and told that they were cutting my hours in half because I was not as adept in administrative work as I appeared to be at my interview.

I was terrified.  I was devastated.  And above all I was ridiculously angry at this pompous turd who smugly overturned my entire life without warning.

I have always been good at admin work.  To be essentially fired from a job because of that made me feel like a fraud, and completely inadequate to look for employment in that field again.  My confidence was at an all time low.  I sat at home in a fog with a 6 month old daughter and no idea how we were going to pay for bills once our savings ran out.

It took me 3 months to work my way out of that pit of self-pity and doubt and depression.  And I feel a little dumb for being depressed over losing a job.  But I felt like I had spent 6 years building a reputation of being reliable, hard working, creative, focused and organized, and in a few short weeks I had lost all of that.  I had been providing half of my family’s income and suddenly I was home trying to learn how to function without a workplace structure to keep me motivated.

But God was faithful.  I started babysitting, we learned to live on less, and I became adept at making money from home and keeping house well.  I gained back confidence, and worked on forgetting about the whole sordid experience.

Till this time of year rolled around again and suddenly it all came back.

I couldn’t figure out why I suddenly felt insecure and worthless about everything.  I would catch myself obsessing over what had happened and feeling anger build in my heart about the whole situation all over again.  And then I realized that it had been a year, and I bet that this is what they mean when they talk about depression cycles.

God brought so much good from that doofus firing me.  I am a stay at home mom, which I never imagined that we would be able to afford.  I am able to give my family a much cleaner house, a much healthier menu, and a much happier home environment.  My daughter lives in her house with her family more than she lives at a daycare, which is a huge blessing.  I get to explore new avenues of business, I have made new friends, and I have been so excited and fulfilled with where God has put me.

I think that I needed to write this out to remind myself that my worth isn’t based on my self-esteem or public opinion.  I am not trying to appear faultless, I know that I suffer from sin and my shortcomings are no secret to anyone.  But that doesn’t diminish my value, it only emphasizes the beauty of God’s grace in my life and his goodness.  I have been able to see him working all things together for good in my life, and even during this low point in the year I am grateful for that reminder.

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A Drought of Friendship

The Happy Wife of a Human Husband

Over the past 5 or so years I have been living in a drought of friendship.  I’m not sure how it happened, because I had many close friends in my late teens and early twenties, but as life happened and people moved around I found myself without much fellowship.  I had a few people that I would call on the phone or talk to online, but I lacked in person female bonding.  I remember traveling through Oklahoma and spending a few days with a friend from school there, and we spent the whole time curled up talking about life and God, watching sappy tv shows and drinking cocoa.  My heart needs that connection.

I worked with women that I talked to a lot, and I married and had a beautiful baby, so my life wasn’t devoid of human interaction.  But something is different.  Sometimes you need a friend that clicks with…

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Serve Him by Washing the Dishes

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I’ve always wanted to do big things for God.  Maybe go into missions or become a worship leader or be really involved in a ministry.  Or even semi-big things like teach a Sunday School class or be a successful blogger or SOMETHING.  Something that I can look at and say “I serve God in THIS way” and be proud of myself.

At this stage in my life, it seems like God wants me to serve him by washing the dishes.

It isn’t what I want to do.  It doesn’t inspire my creativity or engage my mind.  But I know in my heart that is what he wants me to do.  I need to wash the dishes, take the dog on a walk, vacuum the carpet and sweep the floor.  I need to get supper started and play with my daughter and welcome my husband home.  I need to go shopping for diapers and light bulbs.

And in the middle of all of that serving, maybe I can reach out to a friend and be an encouragement.  Or maybe I can be intentional about praying with Eden and telling her a bible story.

I remember years of my mom saying that she wants to have the type of house people come and hang out at, though when I was a kid that didn’t really happen often.  But after years and years of faithfully keeping the house and raising children, my parents now host 15+ people every week for “soup night” and regularly have visitors who hang out for conversation and advice.  Their house has become what mom had been wanting for it all those years ago.  She is able to serve God by being available and hospitable at home.

Maybe these are the trenches.  Maybe this is the preparation for whatever big thing I may someday get to do.  Or maybe what my heart really needs right now is to serve God in the quiet, private, and mundane things.