There was a time in my life where I talked myself into being a runner. I actually ran a half-marathon, and began training for a full marathon in college with a friend who legitimately enjoys running. (This always boggles my mind). We ran 19 miles one day, and I was miserable for two days after. I woke up one morning, had a come to Jesus moment where I admitted to myself I hated running, and I don’t think I have run more than a couple miles at a time ever since. I never ran the full marathon (sorry, Cassie!).
This week, I decided I was going to go on a run to try and sort through some things. Do you ever just have those weeks where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed every single day? I go through days, sometimes a week at a time, where I rise in a funk and can’t seem to really get out of it. Different reasons bring it on, but God being God always helps me to do a heart check on why. The thing is, there is always a reason. Often during these days, I find myself fighting being just plain short, sometimes mean, to those I am closest with, whenever I feel this way. I hate this about myself. As Paul says in Romans, however,
“I do not understand what I do. For what I wan to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (7:15).
Anyone relate? Anyone have those moments that if they were video taped and shown to those on the outside, you would cringe?
I may or may not have the song, “Despicable Me”, by Pharrell Williams, from the Disney movie, on a playlist I have. Since I was attempting to run (let’s call it more of a jog), I happily left it playing when it came on. And then, it hit me. Here are the words from the beginning:
“I’m havin’ a bad, bad day/It’s about time that I get my way/Steam rollin’ whatever I see/Huh, despicable me/I’m havin’ a bad, bad day/If you take it personal that’s okay/Watch, this is so fun to see/Huh, despicable me.”
It goes on and the lead of the song keeps asking, “Why” about everything. One negative thought about having a bad day changed his thoughts on his whole day altogether. Sound familiar? Sure does to me.
Honesty time: I’m over it. I’m over being stretched to the limit in every area of our life, so it seems. This new season has challenged our faith, our marriage, our family relationships, our friendships, our finances, and our expectations and plans as a whole. I told Hugh yesterday morning that I was ready to have a break in just one area of our life. This feeling of being “over it” has slipped in to my interactions with those around me, often through the seemingly small negative thoughts that I have allowed to pass in my mind. I have told God how “over it” I am, and it seems He has responded in silence. He has not given us anymore of an idea of prognosis or expectations for the girls, has pushed us even more financially, and our expectations still stand in the gap wanting. These things are His choice, but I’m realizing the way I think about it all is absolutely in my own hands. What I choose to do with His plans for my life, how I choose to react, is up to me. Every day, we wake up with a choice. We can choose to trust God, to allow Him to reign and rule, to let His Spirit control our thoughts and our interactions. Or, we can give into the mindset that says, “It’s about time that I get my way”. Let’s think about that for a moment. Is it about time for you to get your way? Is it? I believe if we took a strong look at the grace around us, we would be filled with gratitude instead of frustration of the glory around us. So, this is what I attempted to do on my run.
It is hard to see in these pictures, but the entire time I was running, there were birds in the field. I probably saw a hundred robins, all trusting that the Lord was going to provide, just as He always has. They were not looking around to the other birds afraid that their food was being taken; they trusted there was enough for all. Limitless provision. Limitless grace. As the Word says,
“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”-Matthew 6:26
Well…aren’t you? The birds are not complaining about the fact they have to eat worms all day; they are just thankful He has brought them their fill.
“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing”.- Psalm 145:16
Not one promise of the Lord’s has returned void. If we are not aware of His provisions it is not because He is not giving; it is because we are too worried about getting what we think we need and not trusting His gifts.
Not two minutes after this revelation did I begin thinking about how gloomy of a day it was. Negative thinking. A pattern that has so infiltrated my thoughts that I sometimes don’t even recognize how much it is affecting my spirit; or rather His Spirit’s ability to live through me.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”- Romans 12:2
This world is full of excuses to make the focus “self”. Me, me, me, is the cry of all that is around us. Magazines and media all seem to say, “What are YOU getting out of this?” God’s word completely opposes this, telling us that we should forget about self all together; that we should pick up Christ’s cross and trust the lot He has given us. The truth is, the quickest way to misery is to make the focus of our life on what we are getting out of it. In marriage, the moments I spend keeping count of who is getting more or giving more are the moments I am the most annoying to live with, and the most discontent. The times where I choose to love Hugh with a love outside of myself, namely Christ, and not worry about what I’m getting in return are the times I am the most full of joy. Counter-cultural, yes. Biblical and true, absolutely.
The truth is, we have to constantly keep ourselves in check with what we allow to dwell in our mind. What we think matters, and we must never believe the lie that thoughts are less real than action. The heart behind them is the same. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. What we think matters. We must fight the tendency to let our minds just wonder aimlessly. Our flesh’s desire is always going to head toward the things of this world rather than the things of God. We must make the choice to allow God to take over the very passing of thoughts in our minds. If that sounds intense to you, or impossible, I want to gently remind you that it is through the Spirit of God that we have the ability to do any and all things He puts us up to; and furthermore, Scripture makes it clear that what we store up treasure in is where our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). Even when my emotions don’t connect with it, how I desire my treasure to be in the eternal things and not my temporary frustrations. And, this starts in the mind. So, in the midst of my casual thoughts about the gloominess of the day, the Lord had me catch a few glimpses of blue in the sky. Yes, I had to look closely to see it. But, my lack of being aware of it at first glance didn’t make it any less there. Suddenly, I saw a beautiful bluebird in the midst of all the robins. I began thinking about all the things in our life that are not challenging. The fact that Hugh and I both woke up healthy that morning. That our girls were no longer ill. That I could take in deep breaths. That the clouds in the sky were actually causing the heat to be less intense. That we have an amazing church family. Food on the table. Shelter. That Hugh has a job that pays the bills. That we even had the opportunity to attempt to find a diagnosis. That our girls were going to be able to be a part of an education system that will have special classrooms for them. That I was able to run. Nevermind the things I felt I lacked. I was rich. Beyond that, I had been given true riches:
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus”.-Philippians 4:19
My true needs go far beyond material things or even temporal health. Our true needs were met once and for all at the cross, and Christ has given us the riches of heaven, limitless for each of our days.
It began to rain, and between the raindrops, I marveled at how wonderful it felt. Perspective.
Friends, I don’t know if this is all foreign to you. I don’t know if you wake up joyful each and every day, and if all the relationships in your life are free and easy. For some reason, I highly doubt this is true for anyone. I believe that because we live on this side of heaven, challenges abound within and around. This weekend, however, the choice is yours. If you are in Christ, you have the choice to let Him live out all your days. To focus on the beautiful around rather than the seemingly negative, albeit temporary things, that cross your mind. He has promised that He is making all things new, and, “For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”- Romans 11:36
I am not sure if I will run again anytime soon, but I’m thankful for the lessons He teaches me in each and every moment. Despicable me, yes. Without Christ, I am rotten through and through. But God in His wisdom took these rags and made me new, and He will continue to build His beautiful tapestry that I am eternally grateful to be sewn into. No matter what, that is always something to celebrate. He has eternally provided that which we truly so desperately needed; and the only thing that really matters. He is always with us, dear friends. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow abound with His riches.