Monday, December 8, 2014

I.HATE.MONDAYS

"I.HATE.MONDAYS."

My ten-year-old son grumbled those words to me a couple of weeks back when I shook him and told him it was time to get out of bed.  I've gotta say...I agree.

I.HATE.MONDAYS, TOO.

Have you ever had a day like the one I did today?

It was a Monday in every stereotypical fashion, full of disappointments and frustrations, stresses and challenges.  Nothing earth-shattering or life-changing.  Just an accumulation of small things that made me want to come home, crawl in my bed and pull the covers up over my face. 

And then stay there until Friday.

I'm tempted to wallow in my failures, to walk away from the challenges instead of finding a way to conquer them, to complain to God about how hard my day has been, to villainize the people who added to my stress.

Or maybe just hide from them and hope they all go away.

Life doesn't work that way, though.  At least not the kind of life that I am called to in Christ.

When I wallow in my struggles, when I roll around in them and let them cover up all that is good in myself or in my life, I give them far too much control over my emotions and my self-esteem.  I give these negative experiences authority that they don't deserve; I give my shortcomings the power to define who I am.  I have to be purposeful in reminding myself that I am not defined by my failures, but by the grace that God has poured out on me through His Son, Jesus.  1 John 3:1 says, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

I am more than my mess-ups.  I am a child of the God of the Universe, and I am loved mightily by Him.

When I walk away from the challenges that life throws at me, I walk away from opportunities to allow God's power to reign in and through me.  I deny the Holy Spirit the chance to guide me and stretch me, to mold me into a woman that more closely resembles Himself.  I also confess with my actions that I have little faith in the power of my Savior.  In Philippians 4:13 - an often quoted verse - Paul claims that through Christ he can endure any situation, no matter how challenging.  When I give up because circumstances get a little uncomfortable or intimidating, it's as if I perceive the situation to be bigger than my God.

When I complain to God about the stress of my day, do I take into consideration all the blessings that have been wedged in between the irritations? (James 1:2 even describes trials as a blessing because they create in us maturity of faith and character!)  Do I look around at the people in my little world who are truly suffering in BIG ways, just to put my own troubles into perspective?  Am I honestly following Paul's instructions in Philippians 4:8 that teach us how to focus our thoughts on good and lovely things?  Or those in 1 Thessalonians 5 that tell us to give thanks in every circumstance? 

I think not.

And when I tell my husband about all the awful people that I encountered through the day, when I recount all the many offenses I've endured... 
 
Well, now I've set myself up as the judge, the one worthy of defining the worth and position of someone else.  James 4:11-12 says, "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?"

Yes, who am I to judge?  Instead, Jesus Himself instructs me to do this: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." (Matthew 5:44)

Sigh.

Can't I just stay under the covers and hide?  

In John 10:10 Jesus declares that He has come to bring us life "to the full."  Somehow I don't think hiding beneath my pillow is the kind of full life that He was speaking of.

A full life has many ups and downs, even when we're walking with Jesus the entire way.  The difference He creates isn't an absence of frustrations or failures, but a different way of handling them.  We can be confident - even in the face of our own shortcomings - that we are valuable and loved members of God's family.  We can depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us thrive in any challenging situation, and even see it as a blessing along the way.  And those awful people who we just want to cut to shreds with our words...they become instead the object of our prayers.

Life does look a little different from that perspective, doesn't it?  Maybe Mondays don't have to be so rotten after all.

I'm still hoping for a better day tomorrow...









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