Friday, January 24, 2014

Finding Joy in the Daily Grind

This year in 2014 I made a decision to live my life more intentionally. It is something I need to do.

For seven years now I have been living a life of reaction.  A life of counter moves and murky instincts. A life with no goals but only a frenzied effort to stay alive and afloat. No it was not always a struggle all the time, more like an inflamed zit ready to burst with puss. Sure you can cover it over with makeup, pretend it's not there. I could hide my problems, tell myself its just normal, I could even forget for a little while; but the slightest little prick and the zit bursts. The slightest upset, the most unintentional slip up with my words, or even a vengeful thought left unchecked can and did bring my carefully constructed world crumbling down around me over and over again. I could not escape the ugly reality of sin. Wherever I turned I saw the rotten effects it had on me and my family, it's oozing appendages wrapping itself around us, separating us. And I was afraid. I tried and tried to build up the walls, walls ill-equipped for such a job... because hostility, distrust, and fear are no good to keep sin and its consequences at bay. Only Jesus can do that. So I lived a fairly normal and almost healthy looking life hiding it all. Reacting but not living.

Then our house burned down. Then my baby brother was born. Then God rescued me. Then he wiped away all the ooze and gave me new walls. Walls with Christ in them, walls of love, and trust, joy, and hope. These new walls do a bang up job at keeping Satan away. Still 2011, 2012, and 2013 were way too insane for me to do anything but react. This time though, it wasn't a wandering kind of instinct. It was me clinging with all my life to the One who gave me life, waiting for the winds to stop battering me, waiting until I could start again. And here I am, 2014 and the winds have died down. The rain has stopped. I am ready to start again.

             Dedication. I told myself. I need dedication. I need to love God with all my heart, I need to fill myself up with Him everyday. I need to soak up His forgiveness, His grace, His love. I need to soak it up and get all wrinkled up with it like a raisin. I need to dedicate myself to Him, and live my life so that the whole world will know my story. My story of forgiveness, my rescue, and my joy in Him.
            I need to love my family. I need to dedicate my whole self to being a sister and a daughter. I need to serve them sacrificially, put their needs over my own. Because they need that. They need love. My siblings need to know that I am there for them. My parents need to know that I do not hold them responsible for all the bad times. My family needs to know I love them.
           I need to dedicate myself to myself. I need to take responsibility for myself. My parents can no longer stand over my every move. I am not a child. I know what is required of me. I am making plans for myself. Plans to finish high school, maybe go to college, plans to learn as much as I can in all areas of music, to improve myself as a church pianist. I have plans to stay fit, and to improve my writing.

I am working hard at that now, there has not been a day gone by so far that I don't tell myself "Dedication." It is a daily struggle. So many times I find myself with sharp words or careless indifference. So many times I groan over my work. Most of all to my dismay, I go days at a time without studying my Bible, (I almost always read it) or uttering anything more but a quick mundane prayer. Most times when I am not working, I feel like a thief stealing a little bit of time that is better spent on something useful.

Even though I am not perfect, and I fail sometimes, I have not failed entirely. Even though I feel weighed down with every burden an eighteen year old can possibly have - I have never felt so invigorated at the same time. I have never felt so much satisfaction in any work I have taken up. I have never felt so certain that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. And I have never felt His steadying hand in this way before. Yes I have known His protective grasp, and I have known His love, healing wounds that were so deep they seemed they could never be filled, but I have never felt anything like this. I remember when I was learning to loose my training wheels, and Dad was there running along with me. That is how this is, my Father is spurring me on in my work, encouraging me, running along right beside me.

When I clean my room, He is there.
When I cook breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, He is there.
When I do my school, He is there.
When I practice piano, He is there.
When I rest my aching muscles in the car as I run errands, He is there.
When I make my plans for the week, He is there.
When I dress, take to the potty, play games, discipline, or hide my worn out self from Jubal, He is there.
Whatever I do, however tired I am, God is there.

So after a long tiring day that has tried my patience and my endurance, I go to sleep satisfied. When I wake the next day I face it with a smile not at all contrived, and I find my rest in God. Every time I time I mess up I think of Him and ask for forgiveness and strength. That's like a bazillion times everyday! But there is no shame in that, He is not angry, and He always gives what I ask. Somehow in the midst of my exhaustion I find strength.

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