Folks at the fitness center where I exercise are quite concerned with my safety, and it has nothing to do with buckets of sweat pouring off of me. It seems like every time I am on the treadmill or elliptical machine, I’m jotting notes on a piece of paper. The habit formed months ago when I was listening to a talk show about health and some of the comments were really poignant and worth remembering, so I paused the treadmill, ran to the service desk and asked for a piece of paper and a pencil. I got back on the treadmill and ever-so-carefully continued walking while writing notes. Since I have added jogging to my workout regimen (in hopes of completing a 5K before the end of the year), my note-taking habit is becoming hazardous. But I happened to catch a popular speaker on a Christian TV station yesterday and, to my surprise, I desperately needed to hear what she said. So I jotted down some notes in hopes that you might need to read them too.
Let’s look at the opening verses of Psalm 23, you might already be familiar with this passage:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
~ Psalm 23:1-4 (New Living Translation)
The first seven lines are nice and sweet and lovely. They speak of God’s loving protection and sustenance. He gives us rest and peace, renews us, and guides us. Then life happens. Our sunny disposition becomes clouded with doubt, insecurity, fear, and disappointment. The valleys of life are deep, dark, and overwhelming.
God never promised that life would be happy all the time and, here lately, my world has felt upside down and inside out. I’m trying to find the delicate balance between loving mother and consistent disciplinarian with a toddler who still doesn’t talk and likes to throw things when he’s mad. To be honest, I’ve realized over the past few days that I can be too harsh, even with myself. I fuss at or correct Kamden for too many things while getting frustrated with Husband over insignificant things. All the while, I have exceedingly impossible expectations for myself and constantly fall short. While my intentions are sincere, both as a wife and mother, my deliveries are often abrasive. I need to tighten the belt on a few things, and loosen it in other areas.
Being a wife is hard. Being a parent is hard. Being an adult is hard. (Deep breath.)
Thanks to Psalm 23, I am reminded of God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, and ever-present assurance that He is with me in the deepest and darkest valleys just as much as the mountaintops.
When I get frustrated in a situation or covet someone else’s life or situation, God lovingly redirects my attention back to him.
When I am upset or disappointed that my plans didn’t work as anticipated, God asks me to humbly trust and obey His schedule.
When I get discouraged and want to abandon everything, including faith, God holds me even tighter. He refuses to let go, despite my fears, doubt, frustrations, insecurities, and selfish plans.
I hate arguments and confrontations and avoid them at all costs. But, sometimes, I have to swallow my pride and desire to be right in order to be at peace with myself and others. When I give up control and anticipated expectations, I am able to say with humble content, “God, I want what you want more than I want what I want.”
Friends, don’t give up on yourself or let go of God.