Little Boxes…annoying little boxes

Recently it seems I have had to fill out a ridiculous number of forms that all require me to write down my status…single, married, divorced, widowed…  It’s amazing how much I want to deny my actual status.  Who would have thought I’d ever wish I could check any box but divorced?  Just being honest.  I feel as though I have a giant D plastered to my front, my back, my forehead and everywhere in between.  As a Christian, it’s particularly difficult to come to terms with this life status.  It is an epic failure.  I’m getting used to it…I guess.

In the past several weeks I’ve been to more medical/dental appointments than I thought possible. And at each one those blasted clip boards with those horrid forms are handed to me.  And each time I have to reaffirm that I am divorced.  And each time I want to add a posted note with the circumstances of my divorce.  “Divorced due to the adulterous actions of my husband…blah blah blah.”  But why?  It doesn’t really matter anymore.  I have forgiven him and I don’t want to malign him any more than his actions already have.  I have peace in my heart about what God is doing in my life. And yet, I cannot deny that it feels crummy being a divorcee.

No matter how many of us there are out there, it stills feels like a tragic life circumstance with a definite negative stigma attached.   But in all honesty, that crummy feeling is because I’m trying to find my identity in something that isn’t ultimately going to give me any peace or even a good perspective.  My relationship status – married, single, separated, divorced, widowed – none of those truly are who I am at the core.  Does that make sense?  It is a circumstance in my life not me at my most defining point.  Although even as I write that I know that there is more to it than that. There is a depth to marriage that makes it so much more than just my relationship status…maybe that’s why divorce feels so shattering.  As much as I want it simply to be a box I check or don’t check…it feels like so much more.  Married is how I have wanted to describe myself since I was a little girl. It was my most anticipated adjective.  I had it for a long while and then, in what felt like an instance, it was gone…my adjective was replaced with one I really don’t like much at all, but I have long ago accepted this new adjective to describe me…not happily or without a bit of fussing.

But today I have decided to focus on other things that I prefer much more.  I bet a bunch of them describe you too.  I made this list in preparation for a talk I did at a ladies’ retreat…it blessed me to be reminded of who I am in Christ…I pray it blesses you too.

Beloved Daughter of the King

Cherished Bride of Christ

Precious Child of God

A new creation

God’s workmanship

Free from condemnation

Forgiven

Not forsaken

Lavishly and Unconditionally Loved

Worth Far More than Sparrows

Never alone

Never separated from the Love of God

Blessed with every spiritual blessing

With reason to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful

Filled with the Holy Spirit and all His fruit

Afflicted in every way, but not crushed

Perplexed but not driven to despair

Persecuted but not forsaken

Struck down but not destroyed

Saved by grace

Reconciled to God

More than conquerors

Ambassadors

Free

Have grace

Have love

Have purpose

Have eternal hope

Each one of those descriptions speaks to my heart and mind…reminds me of who I am and Whose I am.  There is always hope.

Dearest, you are loved beyond measure. 

Nothing can change that fact.  

And certainly not a little box on a form.

Peace Part Two

It will come as no surprise that since I wrote about peace my life has been anything but peaceful.  Seriously, why is that?  Whenever I lead a Bible study, I live the lesson.  Apparently, my blogging experience is going to be similar.

So, this week….peace did not transcend all understanding at all.  There have been emergency visits to dentists which ended with both mother and child in tears.  There have been rashes, splinters, stings, and headaches.  There has been a broken dishwasher, a twice flooded basement, and countless household tasks piling up around me.  There have been unexpected bills (but also some unexpected checks too!)  There have been exceedingly difficult parenting situations and extended bedtimes because of bad attitudes. There are looming deadlines, forgotten phone calls and appointments, and college forms needing to be completed ASAP.

I’ve struggled with fear of the future, health issues and extended family concerns.  It’s not just that I have a stressful life, it’s that I feel stressed.  The phrase “twisted in knots” makes perfect sense to me. But those verses in Philippians say to pray and be thankful and not to be anxious…I’m determined to live this verse.  Determined.

In a couple of weeks I will be leading the music for our church’s VBS.  One of the songs has the refrain, “Everything is possible with God.  Anything is possible with God.”  We will sing it over and over and over…and I love it.  It’s like preaching the gospel to myself.  The more I say it the more I believe it.  By the end of the song I’m so hopeful of what God is going to do in our family and in each of our lives that I can’t help but sense His peace in my heart.  Maybe I need to record it on my phone and have it ring every 30 seconds.

So this peace thing…the whole guarding our hearts and minds thing…is actually quite simple but also exceedingly beautiful.  I was looking for some amazingly complex definition or translation of the word “guard” – alas it is quite what you would think.    My Expository Dictionary of Bible Words says “to protect as something precious.”  But what my ESV Bible study notes said regarding the peace of God really touched me, “This is the direct answer to the prayer of anxiety.  Things that cannot be fully comprehended can nonetheless be peacefully experienced by those who are “in Christ.””  I think that says it all.  My heart and my mind are precious to God.  He makes sure that my heart is safe and secure and my mind is stable and focused through His peace.  That peace is a direct result of knowing who I am and whose I am because of Jesus.

I’m thankful for the reminder that my peace is NOT based on my circumstances. Unfortunately this week I have very much allowed it to be and in the process I have been grumpy, fussy and downright rotten.  Isn’t that funny — I’ve become like one of my children when they are disobedient!  I probably perpetuaded the lack of peace because I completely forgot that my peace is in Christ not a clean home, a dry basement, healthy & happy children, and a good night’s rest.  All those things are lovely, but ultimately the “peace which passes all understanding” will fill me when I trust Jesus with the good and the bad days.

I pray that our good days will outnumber our bad days…and that regardless of the ratio we will find our peace in Christ!