Are You Giving UP?

 

photo (15)

I was talking with a friend lately about how it feels like for the past 5+ years God has asked me to give up A LOT!

Sometimes it feels like all I’m doing is giving up people, things, hopes, and dreams…

Sometimes it has felt unbearable and sometimes it has been relatively easy.

Sometimes the outcome has been good right from the start and other times…well, I’m still waiting to see the good.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God: for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  Psalm 42:5

I don’t doubt it will come…eventually.  I understand that sometimes the good isn’t something I’ll be able to see, feel, touch, or even understand.  The good is going to have to be something I trust will happen because I trust God.

But I have to be honest and say that on one hand I’m tired of giving up things and on the other hand I kinda just wanna give up.

Even as I write that…I don’t think I really mean it.  I definitely have those “Good grief!  I give up!” or “Lord, I just can’t take this anymore, please please make it better…I feel like giving up.” Or “God, I trust you.  I’m giving this up to you.”  The last one would be the best one to utter most definitely.

So when I feel like giving up, how do I give my stuff UP to God?

How do I actively trust God enough to not only give up something, but give UP the resulting pain and sorrow and disappointment?

Do you know what I mean?

What does giving Up my stuff to God look like?

I tend to give my things to God and then asking for them back.

God I trust you with my kids, but…

God you can have my finances, but…

God I understand your commands, but…

God I know you’re there to listen, but…

God, I need your grace, but…

God I believe you have a plan, but…

Does anyone else struggle with this?  Am I the only one who takes everything back and heaps it onto my own back again and again and again?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Honest to goodness, I have no idea why I take stuff back.  It doesn’t make sense…really.  I know that God’s plan is best.  I know that His way is best.  I know that His timing is best.  I know that His care is best.

I know that He is the best at carrying my burden…and yet, I take it back.  As if…

As if, I have all the answers.

As if, I have all the power and strength.

As if, I have all the energy.

As If, I can do all things.

As if, I know what the heck I’m doing.

It really is a matter of trust.  Do I trust God to handle my life?  My emotions?  My future?  My children?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Has God called me to do the impossible?  To continue to give up and give UP when not much makes sense…to continue to trust Him when I can’t see the good…yet?

No, He has not.

God says I can do all things…all the things He has called me to do (and not to do).

So if God has called me to give up some things and to give some things UP…then He is going to enable me to do it.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Reading that verse made me ask, “Why does Christ give me strength?”

That’s one of those questions that seems easy at first and then as I consider it, definitely not.

Maybe it is a simple answer.  Because we need it.

Because He knows we need it.

Because we are weak.

Because we are burdened.

Because we carry grief and sorrow and pain.

Because He understands the giving up and the giving UP…because He gave up an awful lot for me…for us.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form Of God,

did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

but made himself nothing, taking the

Form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by

becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

 

In comparison, I have not given up much.  It feels like very much…very, very much…but I cannot forget that I have also been given very, very much.

God might ask for things, but He is exceedingly generous in things too.

And some of that generosity is that He is willing to show us His love and care by taking things…things we more than willingly would give Him.

All this sorrow, grief, pain, suffering, frustration, fear, and just plain aggravation…all that yuck, God says He’ll take it.  He’ll handle it.  I don’t have to.

I don’t exactly know how to get rid of it…I mean really.  I keep giving it to God but grief has a funny way of coming back into my life uninvited.

God, how do I make grief go away?

Can I?

Is this grief, this sorrow, my cross to bear?  And, if so, how do I do it without letting it define me.  How do I carry it, without it becoming unbearable?  How do I even begin to have new adventures when the pain

of the past and even the present lies so heavily on me?

I don’t exactly have the answer, I mean I know the answer, but it isn’t an easy ten step plan.

I believe it is in Christ’s strength.  I believe it is in a constant recognition that I need Him. Desperately.

He is everything.  He will help me.  He says He will.  He says He will carry the burden with me.  I don’t have to do this alone.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.  Psalm 119:50

The yoke He speaks of in Matthew 11 – His yoke…how does that work?  How is it easier and lighter?  And how do I give up my stuff and take His yoke?  I can barely lift my stuff off my shoulders.

God brought me to these verses – I just know it – to remind me of the gospel.  I believe those verses are about the gospel.  Honestly, I’m seeing that all of God’s word is about the gospel.

The rest Christ promises is from all the things we do to make things better…to make us better.

John MacArthur says it like this, “Rest speaks of a permanent respite in the grace of God completely apart from works.”

I think what I’m seeing is God’s answer is the gospel.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,

it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 

which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10

God has done it all and He is doing it all.  I’m just blessed to be part of the plan.

The gospel is all about what Christ has done…not what I’ve done or do or will do.  Thank goodness!

I can’t fix things here.  I’ve tried.  No luck.

I can’t even “fix” me.

And I certainly can’t “fix” anyone else.

So what can I do?  I can rest in God’s grace.

I can know without a doubt that I’m saved…that I’m loved…that I’m cherished, precious, chosen, beloved, strengthened, protected, secure, never alone, and never forsaken by the One who knows me best.

Whatever the sorrow or pain you bear, He will bear it with you.

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him.

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.  Psalm 91:14-16

 When you just feel like giving up, remember the great love God has for you.  Immerse yourself in His word.

 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!  Psalm 119:28

When you just can’t bear the thought of giving up anything or anyone else, know that He is enough to fill the void…He will take the empty place and make it full again.  He will.  It might not look like you thought or even like you want it to, but He knows best.  Trust.

I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth

of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  Philippians 3:8

Can I be brave and give you an example from my life?  Well, it’s not like I don’t blather it all to y’all anyway…but here goes…

I would love to get married again…to be a helpmate to a godly man.  I would love to have the opportunity to love again within the covenant of marriage…deeply, richly, passionately.

And it seems like God keeps asking me to give that hope up to Him…lately, it has been painful to think about and I want to “fix” my situation…

and at the same time I’m afraid of feeling all the pain of betrayal again.  I can’t bear the thought of it.

But I’m willing to be brave if God opens the door.  If God allows it.  I trust Him.

So one night I decided that I would do what I used to…spend my time with Jesus.  Instead being poor pitiful Sue, I’m putting my face in His word as often as I need to in order to adjust my attitude, comfort my

heart, bring peace to my thoughts, or remind myself of His love for me.    (And He’s even blessing me with the groundwork for a 2nd book that I’m prayerfully starting!)

And it’s working!  It is helping me so very much.  I’m remembering how God got me through 5 years ago…how He comforted and quieted my heart with His word.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.  Psalm 131

He’s doing that again.  He’s reminding me that He is worthy of my praise – He is worthy of my trust.

I can have hope because God is my hope.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope…  Psalm 130:5

God has indeed asked me to give up much.  He has asked me to trust Him with the giving up.  And He has asked me to give UP some things to Him – to entrust Him with some things I hold very dear.

It isn’t easy, but I’m willing.  I’m willing because I know that His ways are ALWAYS best.

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  Job 42:2

God allows difficult things to happen in our lives because He knows that through those things we will know and we will show that He is trustworthy.  He knows beforehand that He is going to equip us to walk

through whatever path He lays before us.  He knows beforehand that He is going to give us the strength we need to do what He has called me to do…to fulfill His purpose for us.

His purpose for me right now is to walk a path that is a bit rocky…but He hasn’t asked me to do something that He hasn’t prepared me to do.  He’s prepared me and is equipping me to live where He has me.

And He has done the same for you.

And we can certainly thank God , no matter how sad and sorrowful, no matter how angry and frustrated, no matter how disappointed and grumpy we are, He will NEVER give up on us.

flowers and sky

No Pretty Little Bow

I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to start this post. I just can’t think of one. So I guess I’ll just share stuff with you and hope that God uses my fuzzy thinking to bless! He’s good that way.
Yesterday my Dad went to be with the Lord.  I was blessed to spend his last hours with him and my Mom.  It was more difficult than I can adequately express in mere words.  I wanted nothing more than to comfort my father as he struggled and yet I was terrified to watch him die.  I wanted to be there for my Mom, but I didn’t really know what to do.  I felt lost in wanting to be both caregiver and cared for.  But in the midst of it all, God was so clearly there.  I felt His presence…His assurance in my confusion and fear.  I felt His peace even as I struggled to maintain composure…which I did not do well at all in the end. 

Today I opened up my email to see that a post I had written for MomLifeToday was up.  I’ve attached it because this one probably isn’t gonna be so great and maybe that one will bless more 🙂  I often have to reread what I write because I can’t remember it well…honestly, I can’t remember much well at this point…my family has been laughing at me for the past couple of days because I’m such a goof.  Anyway, I digress.  I reread what I had written in my post “No Pretty Little Bow” and God so sweetly reminded me through my own words that He can be trusted. 

See there are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently this past week.  There are a lot of things I don’t understand.  And sometimes I can be a self-beater-upper.  But if I truly believe that I can trust God with everything, why do I have to play Monday morning quarterback with everything?  I can second-guess with the best of them…my friend says I need to stop “shoulding” all over myself…ain’t that the truth. 

Today I’m reminding myself that God can be trusted.  God does love me.  There is nothing more I can do because He has done it all.  I need only rest in the knowledge that my life is in His hands…my father’s life was in His hands…my children’s lives are in His hands. 

He will guide my footsteps.  Sometimes we will go places I’d rather not, but if I keep my focus on Him it’ll all turn out just fine in the end.  It has to…that’s His plan and His plan is always perfect.

I’ve always said that the adjective that best describes my house is “sticky” – not the most sought after description I know.  But today, I feel like I might actually be living in the bottom of an old cracker box…full of crumbs and cracker dust.  Seriously, everywhere I look is a preponderance of dust.  Not sure what changed but…dang!

Recently I have had SO much to do and SO little time to do it.  It isn’t like that is unusual for me, but this time I have a contractual deadline for a project so I gotta get it done and I can’t just do my usual fly by the seat of my pants thing.  I must do this really well.  Actually I’d prefer to do everything really well.

Last month was crazy busy. I don’t think I’ve ever understood that phrase to the extent that I do now.  Between end of the school year activities, room mom responsibilities, senior graduation and all the accompanying  things, parties, birthdays, 3 trips out of town to help with my parents’ health issues, and…oh yeah…I got the first edits of a big project in the middle of it all.  Nothing like “perfect” timing.  I must believe that God has this all under control because I most definitely do not.

I seem to be back in my sleep-a-little, work-a-lot mode.  And unfortunately, as I’m working so hard on so many things, my house gets dustier and dustier and dustier. The dishes get done, the laundry gets done and meals get made.  Well….meals…hmmmm…I feel like I’m not doing the best job on that front either…thankfully I have children who are good eaters because I’m throwing veggies and fruit at them all the time to make up for the lame meals I’m preparing.  I’m blessed to have understanding children…who are also quite good at flying by the seat of their pants!

See I am helping my children without even realizing it!  I’m helping them be flexible, spontaneous and not easy flustered by unexpected scheduling issues.  I love how God can take one of my many flaws and turn it around to something kinda positive.

So now I’m figuring out how to breath better in the midst of my sticky,dusty chaos…I’m trying to chill a bit.  Do any of you struggle with chillin’?  I’m finding it incredibly difficult not to feel like I’m in a whirlwind mentally, emotionally, and even physically lately.  I believe it all begins with simply too much to think about, consider, deal with and decide.  I’m wanting a mental break not a mental breakdown.  Being mentally overloaded tends to make me feel emotionally spent as well.  I feel frazzled and a bit hopeless in my outlook which tends to make me either sad or fussy depending on the situation or day.  All that mental and emotional baggage makes my bed lumpy so I don’t tend to sleep well.  I have some silly health issues which make sleep imperative so if I don’t get sleep I worry about my health and then I feel worse. Know what I mean?  Mind games…and not fun ones.

Thankfully, I feel like I’m coming out on the other side of my little black rain cloud…or maybe I should say my funnel cloud.  And it isn’t because things have necessarily gotten “better,” but I believe I’ve gotten better at dealing with things – those blasted things that destroy my peace, overwhelm me and make my house dusty.

My faith is strengthening me –  God has not abandoned me.  I’m continually learning to trust Him.  He is working all this for good in my life because I love Him.  My friends are strengthening me with kind and encouraging words…and also a few “put your big girl pants on” words.  My children are strengthening me simply because I love them so dearly and want to give them my best.  They don’t need a whiny, fussy, overwhelmed mommy!  And I am putting on my big girl pants because I want to be the best woman and mom I can be.

I must get my focus off of the chaos and onto the hope God gives me.  And I’ll have to get used to the dust because the to do list isn’t shrinking anytime soon!