I had quite a bit of time to reflect on things over the last week while Mark was sick and I sat quietly in his room watching over him.
This came like a revelation to me. I saw a picture of my heart closed up tight like a fist. (Honestly, this was very easy to imagine because I often notice while just sitting or even when I wake from sleep, my hands are fisted.) This fist represents a lot. First, it obviously represents a fight. We are definitely in a fight. Second, it represents tension. You don’t just ball up your hand into a fist usually in life- it happens when you are ready to punch something or someone, or when you are grasping a hold of something, tightly.
In my situation, trying to engage in this battle, unlike any I have ever fought, and trying to hold life together for myself and my family at the same time, I can easily understand why my fists are often clenched.
However, the thing I hadn’t noticed until I had so much time to just sit quietly, is how the same thing has been going on with me internally. My heart has been like a fist. Trying to hold on and ready to fight at the same time.
The problem with this is that when my heart is clenched tightly, it is hard. Like a closed fist, when a curve ball comes in there is nothing soft there to absorb it or catch it- there is no “finess”. This explains why it’s been my first reaction to just be frustrated and angry when I get that curve ball. It’s like something is being thrown at me that just hits me- no absorption. No way to soften the blow -no way to receive it; it just bounces right off.
Tied to this is the fact is that I know our family is one strong machine in day to day living. We have moved not just to new cities, but new states three different times in about 10 years. We have home schooled and therefore decided to do without extras and luxuries compared to what we could have had and done if we would have chosen to be a dual, full -time income family. We have lost loved ones together- not just once, but a handful of times. These are examples of some of the struggles…. and none of them has put a dent in our strength, our faith, and our ability to keep making the most out of life.
This time it’s been the biggest test by far. Kids, living life with part-time (at best) parents. Responsibilities of running a home, figuring out schedules and taxiing and the like suddenly shoved at them full force. An exceptionally active mom, giving up all activities and normalcy of her life to become the servant between two places to two different groups trying to keep them both accustomed to life that seems as normal as she can, while grieving all that she has left behind herself. A dad, used to being the bread winner, and strong, never-sick-a-day-in-his-life hero, suddenly unable to walk more than a foot or two without being winded and needing to rest. A guy, who if you asked him, would tell you that when you take coaching basketball and being with all of his kids and wife is like taking drugs away from a drug attict – who lives without those constants as he battles. And so, there is more change, and those changes for these parents, bring even more change for the kids. They see their mom struggling to identify how to live and how to live with joy. They see their hero fighting a battle and getting more and more slim and the battle getting more and more difficult for him as he goes. So, I know these kids want to help. They want to be strong, have compassion and keep going- because this is how they have been raised. But, you see this is hard on everyone. And the way it affects one, absolutely affects the others, because that’s the kind of family we are. We have always done everything together…. until recently. And sometimes, now, the people in this family feel alone.
This is where the devil wants us. He wants to destroy. He wants to try to break our faith, joy and love. Separate us from each other and from God. He loves to make us think and feel we are alone. I am reminded that this is indeed the biggest battle of our lives- it’s against him. Our battle/struggle :
Ephesians 6:12- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
But, as I remember that and see that actually happening so strongly in our family right now, I reflect on this:
1 Peter 5: 1-11
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
I think this passage speaks volumes to and about our entire family right now. I know, I can’t believe Mark and I are actually elders – we are both getting gray and growing older, though, and this speaks to my heart. Everything in me has felt like I need to shut everything else out now… but I don’t. The opposite is true. I need to continue to shepherd the flock- that is first and foremost my kids- my family… but I am a servant – and must be willing to serve HOWEVER God is asking me to right now. And even though there are many new responsibilities on my kids, they have to continue to respect us elders and submit to us and serve. We all need to be aware of the fact that the devil is up to no good and trying harder than ever to destroy us, so we must hold tighter to our faith. Having a humble spirit and thinking of others before yourself is imperative right now. Giving our cares to God and trusting him, believing that He will continue to make us strong and that He will restore us. We certainly are not alone!
I’m unclenching. It takes too much energy to keep your fists and for heart all balled up!
I believe there are people out there on this same kind of journey and that is why I share HONESTLY from my heart with people so publicly. There is no shame in the difficulties we face in life- we all share them, just not everyone is so willing to let you know you are not alone by sharing their own struggle. I don’t look at this sharing as being negative – I look at it as being REAL. Only when we are REAL can REAL change happen.
God bless you as you struggle. Each of us does in our own ways and in our battles. I hope me sharing this struggle, gives you encouragement as you fight. Don’t give up- just give your cares up and TRUST and PRESS ON! <3