Have you ever heard it said, “Life is hard and then you die”? I have…a lot! And although there have certainly been times where I have believed that to be true, I’ve also wondered if it really is.
My life has been considered to be a “hard life” at times by previous counselors and psychiatrists, but I don’t see it that way. Have I had challenges? Absolutely. But who hasn’t? We all have something that we struggle with, sometimes on a daily basis. Life IS hard. It’s true. But your attitude towards it can make monumental impacts on you, on how you want your life to “turn out”, and even on other’s lives. You have the power to choose to see the joy, even gifts, in each and every day. You! But are you strong enough to actually do it? Are you capable to seeing past all of the “negatives” that fill your mind? This may be cliché but it’s true: If I could do it, you definitely can too.
For those that don’t know me well, I was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD and Anxiety Disorder – all within this past year. And although that may be surprising to some, it actually came as a blessing and relief to our family. It’s been a very difficult journey in our home and on my immediate family. Even close friends and family are unaware of the turmoil I have placed on my husband, children, and even myself. But I don’t end there. That is NOT my story. Because it’s when you remember who you truly are, before all of the psychological labeling, that really matters. Me? I’m a daughter of the one High King of heaven. I’m made in His image and He calls me His child! So although the life I may have has been “hard”, it’s also been an opportunity. To learn. To grow. To see and to feel things I never thought possible. To become more and more like Him – each and every day – regardless of my circumstances.
I recently watched a movie scene where a leader took his self-help group out into the middle of a busy street (imagine New York), and they just stood there. Every person in that group got very tense. Horns were honking, people were shouting rude expletives, and motioning the same with their hands. The group wanted out. They felt stuck, in the way, the problem, and in a way, they were. But then the leader took them to the tallest building running along the same street, where they proceeded to the roof. They looked over the skyline and were amazed by the views. Their reactions changed. They were no longer scared, stressed, anxious, or tense. They were relaxed. The relief was evident on their faces and in their entire posture. Then they looked down to the very spot they had been standing only minutes prior and it seemed significantly different. They felt as if they had some control, they were no longer in the chaos. Although nothing had really changed on the ground level – cars were still honking, people were still shouting, and there were more people running through traffic – they now had a different view of the situation.
And that’s how it is with God and being His child. Your life may be incredibly stressful and chaotic, but He can help you see past some of those things and live life to the fullest, regardless of your current life events. Trust me, I know some of the feelings of stress and chaos. For some very strange reason, God thought it would be good, beneficial, and even wise for me, somebody with Entomophobia (fear of insects/bugs) to not only live with a variety of bugs and spiders, but also mice, bats, and (what we thought were) bedbugs – BUT – God is merciful, and they were “only” batbugs). But the fears, stresses, phobias, anxiety, and panic attacks that ensued from those things certainly can cloud one’s view. When you are in the middle of it, you can’t see above it. And with my ADHD brain, I can’t even begin the process of trying to see above it, to choose to be thankful – in EVERYTHING?!?! (1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”)
That’s where the even harsher reality sets in. Not only are disciples of Jesus asked to rejoice ALWAYS and to give thanks in ALL circumstances, He also asks us to be content. WHAT?!?! (Hebrews 13:5a – “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”) Oh, that is so, so hard to do – if we only see things from our current view.
So how do we see things from a different view? From God’s view? From an eternal view? (Colossians 3:2 – “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”) I think the answer is somewhat cyclical; it’s in the previous verses – rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks all the time. Scripture says in Psalm 37:4 to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This does NOT mean that He will deliver you from your current situation or that He will hand over to you what you want. Because to truly delight in the Lord means to find your entire peace and fulfillment in Him alone. And when you do that, you leave no room for the desire of extra. There’s a reason Jesus also said in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your strength and with ALL your mind.”
I would add to those the verses from childhood:
- Philippians 4:13 – I can do ALL things through Christ which gives me strength.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 – TRUST in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.
It comes down to a choice, a decision, to wake up each day (or go to bed each night – even if you have to take medication to help you sleep) and trust in Him…even in the right now. 1 Timothy 6:6 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Sitting at a Wal-Mart McDonald’s this evening after a particularly difficult few days with my daughter, setting straight some behavioral issues, and contemplating on whether or not my responses have been the right ones (and dealing with the oh-so-continuous guilt that comes with not being the best/perfect mom), she looked up at me and asked if I could wipe the Ketchup off of her arm. As I did the “mom routine” once again, she looked up at me, smiled, and said, “Thanks, mom. You’re always there when I need you.” Apart from having my emotions ripped out of my chest in public, 🙂 I realized just how profound that statement was. (My daughter teaches me theology every day – and I’m so grateful for it!) Because the second part of Hebrews 13:5 is what makes the change of view possible. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,