Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ups and Downs

Hi all!  While going through my past posts, just to make sure I was accurate in my official 100th post, I found this draft that I wrote two Sundays ago.  At the time I wrote it, I decided not to post it.  I wanted to make sure I had a chance to read it when I wasn't in the middle of the emotions I was feeling and make sure it was really something I wanted to publish.  Now that I've read it over, I think it's worth posting.  It's a little off-topic for this blog, but hopefully it will provide encouragement anyway. :)

I suffer from acute female-itis (and yes, I just made that word up for my own convenience).  This means that whenever I get overtired or overstressed, I dissolve into a puddle of irritable, pitiful weepiness.  Of course, certain times are worse than others. :}  Those annoying hormones!!!

This morning was just one of those mornings.  You know, the type where you feel like everything you do is either completely hopeless or useless?  I'm in one of those...arrrgghh!  I need to lose weight...clean the more patient with the better at my devotions...spend less time on the computer....stop snitching sugar cereal or chocolate from the cupboard when no one's looking...modes.  I know this sounds pathetic, but there it is.  There are days where I feel completely and utterly worthless.

I grew up in a Christian home, for which I am very grateful.  I was sheltered and protected from many things in my life.  Sometimes though, it's easy for me to rely on my own goodness because of my upbringing.  I never did drugs, drank alcohol, shoplifted, or killed anyone.  I was always considered the "sweet" one...the "good kid" in high school.  And foolishly, I let myself believe this was the real me.  Of course, in high school, I was getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night and had one bedroom to worry about, plus the occasional night of dishes or laundry.

Now, I average 5-6 hours of sleep a night (on a good night).   I have an entire house to clean, and most days I seem to be the only one interested in keeping it looking nice.  I have to oversee homework, potty training, constant squabbles over dollies and toys, mountains of laundry, piles of dishes...well, you get the picture.  I find it much harder to be that sweet, kind person I was once known as.  It's not always pretty.

I think in my heart of hearts, though I would be appalled at myself if I had really searched my thinking, I thought I was good enough on my own for God.  I went to church and Sunday School every Sunday and Wednesday, I sang in the choir, I taught little kids, I was kind and compassionate, I smiled at everyone.  And all the time, I suppose I was thinking, "See God?  See all of these great things I'm doing for You?  Don't I get some brownie points or something?"

Now, looking back, I can see how many of the things I was doing for the wrong reasons.  Or perhaps I was doing it for the right reason but my heart attitude was incorrect.  And I was always horribly mean to my little brother because he was so annoying...but anyone so annoying deserves what they get, right?

The truth is that the Bible tells us there is "no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:3; Romans 3:10), and "all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment" (Isaiah 64:6).  Even if we do manage to do some good in our lives, it will never be enough to earn favor with God.  It is only through belief in His Son that we can find eternal life and God's acceptance.   And after we believe in Jesus, the things we do are a gift to Him in gratitude for what He did for us, not a way to earn extra merit.

I am extremely motivated by guilt...I always have been.  I bounce back and forth between trying to do things on my own and getting frustrated at my failures, and then being overcome with guilt that I was trying to do things on my own in the first place.  One such time, the Lord brought a sermon over the radio that I needed.  I don't remember who was preaching or even what the rest of the sermon was about.  All I remember is a part where the preacher said:  "There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less."  Tears instantly sprang to my eyes when I heard this.  Because our worth is in Christ, when we believe in Him, God sees the righteousness of Christ when He looks at us.  Once we are saved, nothing can change that.

I think it's easy for us as Christians to try too hard to be perfect.  When really, we never will be no matter how hard we try.  We are sinners like everyone else.  Of course, our desire should be to please Him, and we should be in the Word and praying every day (which I desperately need to work on in my life!).   But we still need to rely on Jesus every day to give us the strength we need to live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

In some ways, it's kind of a relief.  God isn't expecting me to be perfect.  Why else would He have given us I John 1:9?  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  What a thrilling verse!  That means that every time I do something wrong, all I have to do is confess it to God, and He lets me start all over with a clean, guilt-free heart.  I have seen earthly examples of this through my husband and my children.  I can be a total bear, and they respond with their unconditional love every time.  What a wonderful picture of our Heavenly Father's love for us!

Okay, sorry for the random post...I know this isn't doll related.  It's something that was weighing on my heart.  Maybe something similar has been weighing on yours, too.  There have been so many times I've been encouraged by reading a post that tells of the struggles someone else is going through, especially when they're the same struggles I face.  It's nice to know we're not alone in this race of life. :)

So many times, the Lord has sent blessings my way just when I needed them.  Today was just such a day.  I was feeling discouraged and tired, and even stayed home from church.  I got the gift of laughter today, though.  It was in a letter from my Prayer Pal (something our church does that is similar to a Secret Pal), and was just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. :)  I thought I'd share it with all of you.  Hopefully it makes your day like it did mine. :)

"Church Ladies With Typewriters..."
[This is an email sent to my Prayer Pal full of bloopers that were either printed in church bulletins or announced from church pulpits.  May I just say, these are a good reminder of the value of proof-reading! :}]

-The Fasting and Prayer Conference-includes meals.      

-The sermon this morning:  "Jesus Walks on the Water".  The sermon tonight:  "Searching for Jesus". 

-Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale.  It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Bring your husbands.

-Don't let worry kill you off-let the church help!

-Miss Charlene Mason sang "I Will Not Pass This Way Again", giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

-For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

-Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir.  They need all the help they can get.

-Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church.  So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

-Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

-Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered...

-The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

-Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM-prayer and medication to follow.

-The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

-Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM.  Please use the back door.

-The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM.  The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

-Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church.  Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

Aren't those hilarious?  My hubby and I got a kick out of them.  It was a great mood-mender for me.  Hope you enjoy them too.



Anonymous said...

Your posts lately have been a reminder and blessing for me .. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings ..

I went from helping and being in church almost everyday to hiding out in my house going nowhere for the last two years .. I have been shut away hiding from life ..

Your posts have started opening my heart again .. which is a scary but good thought together ..

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad I could be an encouragement to you. :)

AlexAndrea said...

I noted there was no mention of the Holy Spirit . . . God within us. God doesn't give out brownie points, but strength to prevail.

The Holy Spirit is your best friend, always there, listening, and encouraging us. You need to listen for His presence with your "heart".

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks for the comment, AlexAndrea. I am very thankful for the Holy Spirit's presence in my life. I just have to be careful not to stifle His nudges and reminders in my heart as I go through my day. :) I'm so glad I don't have to walk this life alone! :)