Choosing Joy in the Midst of Loss

I.                 Stages of Grief –

(www.perfectjoyministries.com, “Online Studies”)

There is no rhyme or reason to grieving:

Ø  The Explosion – emotions go off like a bomb

Ø  The Skip – self-explanatory

Ø  The U-turn – A particular stage can be reached, and then, because we are not quite ready to process the pain, we can recede back into the previous stage. Or perhaps the fear of losing the comfortable blanket of grief will cause a reversal right back into one of the beginning stages.

Ø  The Vacillation (Indecisiveness) – Two stages of the grief cycle may go back and forth repeatedly for days, for weeks, or perhaps even for months. Just when it may seem that final stages have been reached, something new present itself, and once again, old familiar emotions will need to be worked through. Sometimes, there are layers that need to be peeled away, and only as we move to a new stage of grief, is that underlying layer revealed. So then, we need to go back to a former stage, in order to work through the newly discovered layer, before once again, moving back to a later stage of healing.

Ø  The Ricochet – Just when we were confident that the one stage had been reconciled, we find ourselves thrown back into it, unexpectedly. This occurrence can often cause devastation or depression, as we find that a stage we were relieved to have left behind, has us immersed once again.

 

 

A.     Shock and Denial – There is no sin or shame in being in an initial place of shock or denial. In fact, this is often the body’s normal response to emotions, which are too great to take in all at once. It becomes sin when we remain here, when we consciously choose to remain in this place, refusing to face the pain.  The line between the two is what each person must determine for themselves.

 

B.     Pain and Guilt – Even when you do not have reason for physical pain, it seems that mental pain often causes physical pain. Guilt is not from God. Conviction is from God, the purpose of which is repentance and restoration from the bondage of sin. But guilt that tears at us with blame and condemnation is not.

 

C.     Anger and Bargaining – Sometimes, anger feels more manageable than pain. Anger often masks the feeling of pain in our hearts. For this cause, some continue on in anger so they don’t have to feel pain. Over time this anger will become debilitating, not only personally but for the people surrounding the one harboring it.   Also, in our anger, we often lash out at those around us, in the hopes that we might hurt the person responsible for our pain. Sometimes, we believe that God has “punished” us because of something that we did or didn’t do.  Because of this, we think that if we promise to do something differently, God will change His mind.

 

D.    Depression and Loneliness – Loneliness sets in, because no one else understands the pain we are experiencing. People have short attention spans for other people’s issues. Discouragement slows you down for a little while. Depression stops everything for a long time. We sin when we allow self-pity to consume us, when our depression causes us to remain in such bondage that we no longer enter life or live in the role God has called us to live in.

 

E.     The Upward Turn – The time comes when we realize life is going to go on and we can either be a part of it, or we can stay in the endless cycle of anger, guilt, depression, and loneliness. In some ways, reaching this place often brings a new guilt. “How dare we be happy again?”  A laugh erupts, a good day happens, and a fear may creep in that we’re forgetting.  We may even be able to tell our story with a few less tears and a few more smiles. These prior stages have become our new normal, and they feel almost like an emotional shrine for the circumstances that brought them about in the first place. To leave them is to enter new, unfamiliar territory – a different life than we had before the tragedy and a different life than we’ve had while grieving.  It is the unknown of a new normal – the new normal for the rest of life, and also a new normal of ourselves.

 

F.     Working Through – In this stage we work through all the emotions surrounding the upward turn – whether fear, guilt or even the sense of losing the “security” that grief, in an odd way, has brought us.  This stage has a lot to do with “re-programming” our belief system. 

 

G.    Acceptance and Hope – “It’s not okay…but God…!” We know we have reached a healed place when our emotions find an even keel and stop bouncing all over the map – when we realize that life is finding a new normal and settling into a routine of purpose yet again.  We feel alive in a new way.  We have peace and joy.

 

II.              A Biblical Response

A.     God’s grace is sufficient for our NEEDS, not always for our wants as well. We need to learn how to prioritize and how to say “no.”

B.     We need to remember to keep looking UP, and avoid looking AROUND

C.     Anger is not always a sin. However, we can sin in our anger.  There is the righteous indignation of God, and then, there is the unrighteous wrath of man.  One is due to an injustice or a sin against the sovereign God of all, and the other is due to what we perceive as an injustice against us. The more we grow to be like Christ, the more we will learn how to respond instead of just simply reacting to circumstances in our lives, and, in time, those responses will be Godlier.

D.    We must avoid self-pity. Pride can keep us from getting the help that we need.  We do not want others to think badly of us or, sometimes, we just want the attention that depression can bring us.

E.     Instead of asking, “Why me?” you should ask, “Why NOT me?”

F.     What we believe determines how we will respond to our circumstances.

G.    We are not able to generate joy from within ourselves. We simply reflect the joy that God gives us. God redeems all pain. The pain you are experiencing right now, WILL benefit you later.

III.         Common Traps

A.     Jealousy –  

Two of the lies that we tell ourselves:

Lie #1: “I deserve…” – You believe that you deserve more or better than what you have.

Lie #2: “It’s not fair…” – God isn’t fair or doesn’t love you enough to give you what you want, or you feel that someone less deserving has what you want.

 

Truth: You deserve nothing. Life isn’t fair. However, because of his mercy, He blesses us.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16

It’s not about you. It’s all about Him.

B.     Guilt – The guilt of what we may have done or may have not done in order to create this situation. Guilt is not from God. Conviction is from God, the purpose of which is repentance and restoration from the bondage of sin. But guilt that tears at us with blame and condemnation is not. We must remember that God has the power to “over-ride” anything that we might do consciously or unconsciously. God’s is not limited by our thoughts of Him.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3:14

We can only do the next right thing. After that, we must trust that all things will work out for our good and His glory in the end.

C.     Anger – So often we choose to repress our grief or pain. This often finds its way out of us in the form of anger. Anger is the emotion that we choose in order to avoid less comfortable feelings such as confusion, fear, and sadness.

·         “The difference between righteous and unrighteous indignation is illustrated by asking, ‘Whose honor is being preserved?’  If I am angry because God has been dishonored and that vexes me, I am probably experiencing righteous anger.  If my anger is in the garden variety, ‘I can’t believe you are doing this to me…,’ it is probably unrighteous anger.” – Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart

 

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20

 

·         If we would be angry and not sin, we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own. – Matthew Henry’s Commentary

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18

(Just as a side-note: Rage is uncontrollable anger. If you feel that you are suffering from this, you should talk to your doctor asap. There is likely a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected.)

IV.            The Anger Solution:

A.    Acknowledge that you must change your belief in order to change your behavior. Anger is simply the difference between what we expect to happen and what really happens. If we can shrink that gap, we will reduce the anger as well.

“You can’t cease to be angry about things simply by trying hard not to be. You need to change your mind about how important some things really are: get your priorities in order. Then, when something is withheld or damaged, or you are criticized or slighted, anger will not be your first response.”

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

B.     Contentment. If you are not content right now, you never will be. There will always be something bigger, better, and more desirable. The truth is that it would also come with its own set of trials and difficulties. Don’t live in a “what-if” world.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

C.     Avoid the temptation to question God’s motives. This is something that we often try to justify in the Christian community; however, scripture is pretty clear that God’s ways are not our ways and because He created us, He has the right to do whatever He wants.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory. Romans 9:20-23

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

D.    God’s sovereignty is either your bondage or your freedom. It’s your choice. We have to remember and believe that because He is a good and perfect Father, He wants the very best for our lives. He is just and compassionate. He will only do what is right all the time. He works in dimensions that we cannot even fathom.

“God gives us what we would ask for if we knew what He knows.”

 

Face your anger head-on. Time does not heal anger, so don’t bury it. Learn to control your reactions vs. your responses, and don’t let your emotions steal your reflection of joy!

“When life knocks you over, whatever you are filled with will spill out.”

Original material by Holly M Besser.  Perfect Joy Ministries ©2017. May not be used or re-printed without permission.  Bsbp52p01-15-2017

 

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Beautiful Weeds

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog about how the painful and difficult things in our lives, are sometime actually good things.

https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/from-the-hand-of-god/

As I weeded our garden this past weekend, it struck me that the opposite also applies. I had been enjoying and admiring the beautiful buttercups in their simplicity and brightness, when I realized that I was going to have to pull them out of their current location. They did not belong in the bed that they had chosen to plant roots. They, along with some equally pretty tiny white flowers, had grown in the midst of our moss garden, which is dotted by the occasional boxwood and small evergreen shrub.

flowers.JPG

A “weed” is defined as “a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.” No matter how beautiful the flower, it was a weed in its current setting. It was not intended for that place at that time.

In our lives, we often ask God for “good” things – things that, in and of themselves, are beautiful and desirable. However, if He were to give them to us, they would be like the beautiful weeds in my garden. They would be impractical and out-of-sync with the story that God is writing of your life. It’s not that these beautiful and good things will never be in your life, they just need to occur in the proper place and time.

Be patient. God isn’t finished with you yet. He hasn’t accomplished everything that He wants to accomplish in your life. He is still “cultivating” your garden. It may take a bit longer than you thought. It may be discouraging and frustrating, but try to enjoy the beauty that is already in your life in this current time and place. Look around at the beautifully designed garden that is your life. Clean out the weeds and find the good!

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2016. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp7206-01-16

Mother’s Day Judgements

I hate when I hear people say, “Stop judging,” or “You aren’t supposed to judge.” Occasionally, this statement just shows a lack of understanding on their part, but usually, it is revealing a major double standard. We all judge. Every. single. one. of. us. From the moment we get up in the morning, until the moment we go to bed at night, we are casting estimations and judgments on the people and situations around us. Scripture never says to avoid all judging. God simply asks us to judge fairly and with a just measure.

As we come to another Mother’s Day, I would encourage you to stop and think about your standards and expectations for others. My dear friend just lost a baby today. She has already had to bury two babies in the past year. Both boys. Both beautiful and very much loved. I had the privilege of being present at the birth of one of them – nearly 17 weeks and perfect in every way. I have no doubt in my mind that these children made her a mother, but certainly not in the way that she would have chosen.

Most people would be quick to voice their sadness and dismay at the thought of these little lives lost. No one would disagree that she deserves to grieve.

However…

This was her eighth loss. Yup, eighth. She also has five living children. Yup, five. Okay, so this is where you to begin to rethink your first assessment, right?

Why would she do this to herself?

Why go through it over and over again?

It’s her own fault. She should have seen it coming.

She already has a handful of other children.

Who wants more than five children anyhow? Two is plenty!

God is obviously saying, “no.” Give up!

Surprisingly, as someone who has only lost four children to miscarriage, I can feel the sting of these statements. People will say these things…out loud! Not just to each other, but, yes, directly to the mother.

This mother’s day is going to be horribly difficult for my sweet friend. Not only does she have to grieve the loss of her precious little one and all of the dreams, hopes, and plans that she had for them, but she will also have to do it silently. No one will “get it.” Why bother sharing?

On Sunday, our churches will be filled with the happy celebration of the children that we hold in our arms. Because, after all, that is what makes one a Mother, right? We will talk of the blessing of having our “quiver full” and being surrounded by sweet pint-sized voices. We will speak lovingly of dirty, chubby little fingers and the sound of tiny feet running to us for a hug. We will talk of the blessing of investing in our children, even as we watch the hand prints on the window getting bigger and bigger.

Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not! Should we be less happy to pacify those who do not have what we do? Absolutely not! My point is simply this: Be careful of passing a judgement that you would not want someone to pass on you. As the Scripture says:

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2

Would you want someone else to tell you how many children you should have? What exactly is the “magic” number? Would you want someone else to tell you how much you can handle? What the story of your life should look like? Do you want someone else to decide what God will is for you? How far He may have you go? How much He may ask you to endure?

Just take a moment to consider, before you cast your verdict upon someone this Mother’s Day. Instead of sharing your opinions, try sharing your hugs. That quiet mom of five may be suffering in silence.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2016.  May not be used or re-printed without permission.  bp7105-06-16

 

Greener Grass

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

We have all felt this way at one time or another. Otherwise, this phrase wouldn’t be a cliché. Sometimes it’s hard to be content to sit on our little patch of earth, when everywhere we look, things look so much better. Well, I’d like to share something with you that changed my perspective and, ultimately, my grass too.

What makes greener grass?

  1. The foundation. The base that the grass is growing in has to be ideal.

a. Free from rocks and other debris.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24(kjv)

           b. Rich, fertilized soil. Properly balanced soil needs to be tested and then, proper elements added to make the perfect environment.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

            c. In a prime location.

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said…Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:4-15

 2. The proper care. You can’t just drop the seed, you have to apply the appropriate components to make it grow.

a. Sun/Son – Salvation is the most important element.

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-36

                  b. Water

Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:14

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

                  c. Protection

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

                  d. Additional fertilizer

I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13

                  e. Time

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Ecclesiastes 7:8

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:25

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. James 5:7

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13

Some say that the grass is always greener over the septic tank…either way, it takes hard work, patience, and often, a bit of difficulty to create the perfect lawn. Instead of dwelling on your neighbor’s patch of grass, take some time to work on your own. Remember, if you aren’t content right now, you never will be.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2016. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp7002-07-16

Let there be Joy!

I have been concentrating on the word “joy” lately. I’m trying to teach my children to find joy in the little things, the difficult things, and the not-so-nice things. It is a hard habit to learn, but I am convinced it will pay off. My husband once told me that if I wasn’t content right now, I never would be. He was right. We must learn to carpe diem, “seize the day,” or better yet, find joy in the moment. Life is full of disappointments. If we don’t learn to look for joy, it probably won’t find us by accident.

Christmas is a very difficult time of year. There are family gatherings that inevitably end in hurt feelings due to thoughtless comments and idle words that seem to cut to our very soul. There is talk of babies and children everywhere. We sit in church and pictures of a baby Jesus are flashed on the screen and hung on the walls. Yes, we understand the meaning of Christmas, but the “baby thing” just seems to scream at us above everything else.

Mary truly had a perfect pregnancy. She had assurance that no matter what, this baby was going to be born – safe and healthy. What a gift! If there is one thing that I have learned from having lost four children, it is that no pregnancy is a guarantee. It doesn’t matter what you do or how hard you try, you have very little control over the end result. Mary didn’t have to worry about that at all. Baby Jesus was a sure thing.

Mary just had a “few” other issues to worry about, such as everyone thinking that she had been unfaithful to Joseph (which was punishable by death), the fact that she would have to ride about 80 miles on the back of a donkey at nine months pregnant (which would take about a week), having to deliver her baby alone in a cattle barn (do you remember how physically awful the days following a birth can be?), and having to flee to a foreign country with a young toddler because the King himself wanted her child dead!(Could you imagine having to be responsible to protect the Son of God?)

Mary had the very thing that I would have loved to have – just once – a guaranteed pregnancy, and yet, I’m not sure that Mary had a whole lot to find joy in. However, she did! Even in the midst of uncomfortable and chaotic circumstances, she still found a way to have joy. How?

Before Jesus birth:

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. Luke 1:46-55

 

…and after Jesus birth:

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I think that if we took a moment to think about it, we would be able to find that joy, even in the worst of circumstances. Scripture tells us that one of the natural results of being a child of God is joy.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5:22-23a

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11

Also, look at Who is responsible to provide the joy. We just need to ask!

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. Ecclesiastes 2:26a

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:7-11

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Acts 2:28

So, I’m not sure where you are at right now. Maybe life just isn’t working out the way that you think that it should. Maybe you are having trouble finding joy in your current circumstances. Let me challenge you to begin to ask God to restore joy to your soul, and keep asking until you see the joy of the Lord return to your life. It’s simple. You just have to do it. Don’t let the devil steal this gift that God has promised to you. God desires you to live victoriously! Now, go and do the next right thing!

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6912-31-15

 

What is in a Tear?

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

Psalm 56:8

Tears are the punctuation on the happenings in our lives. When something traumatic happens, we cry tears of fear. When something sad happens, we cry tears of heartbreak. When something thrilling happens, we cry tears of joy. God created this wonderful ability for us to release the emotions that accompany so much of what we experience in this life.

My first pregnancy was amazing. We had waited and prayed for seven years for a child. I enjoyed every single minute. It never even crossed my mind that something could take it all away. Eight years later and seven pregnancies later, my perspective has changed. God has asked for four of my seven children back.

  1. God never asks for anything from you that He doesn’t give to you first. Everything that you have is a blessing from God. We do not deserve anything. If life was “fair,” we would all be facing eternal punishment and separation from God. God is a good and perfect Father. He longs to give us good things. He wants the very best for us. If He asks us to return one of His gifts, we must trust that there is a reason for it. We must hold onto His gifts with open hands.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. James 1:17a

 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

  1. We must remember that this life is only a preparation for the life that is to come. Everything in this life is fleeting, including life itself. As humans, we are often spiritually short-sighted. We want happiness and fulfillment in this world, and when we don’t feel happy, we feel that God has somehow failed us. When in reality, we need to be seeking the joy of the Lord.

“Happiness is most often associated with our circumstances or experiences. Happiness comes when everything is going “right” in our world. Happiness is not a bad thing, but it must be understood that it is fleeting – it will come and go without notice. Joy, on the other hand, is based on truth – on a belief system. Instead of needing a “state of well-being,” that happiness requires, it calls for a “sense of well-being.” The difference is not in the circumstance, but in the state of mind. It’s not having everything that you want and desire, rather, it is wanting and desiring what you already have and being content with that. It is holding out hope that God’s promises are sure and that everything will work out for our good and for God’s glory. It is knowing that every circumstance and experience in our life is designed to bring us closer to God, and to mold us into Christ-likeness. As Christians, this should be our ultimate desire.” – Excerpt from Joy Comes with the Mourning by Holly M. Besser

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14b

For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. Ecclesiastes 5:20

Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

  1. Peace comes from trusting in the sovereignty of God. Believing that God is in ultimate control can be your bondage or your freedom. You can be angry that He has the final say, or you can rest in the fact that He not only knows the beginning from the end, but He exists in both. He is in your past, your present, and already in your future. Time is not a limitation for the God of the universe. He has it all figured out, and He has it all in His hands. We can find peace in knowing that He will make all things right in the end.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Tears. Even our tears are a gift from God. I discovered some amazing facts about tears. All tears are not the same. There are three kinds of tears: basal – regularly lubricate our eyes, reflex – the kind you get from chopping onions, and psychic – triggered by emotions. Each one contains unique molecules. Emotional tears even contain leucine enkephalin, which is a natural painkiller. Not only that, each one looks distinctive as well, just like snowflakes! Trust your life to the God of tears. He has it all under control.

Tears from cutting onions

tears5

Tears of grief

tears4

Basal tears

tears3

Tears of change

tears2

Tears from laughing

tears1

Psalm 116:1-8

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest;     for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

Original material by Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. Bsbp51p10-13-2015sp (Originally written for Life Factors Ministries with Sean Teis, lifefactorsministries.org)

I Am Mom

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

1 Peter 3:4

 

Even as young girls, we dreamed of a time when someone would call us “Mom.” As we entered our adult years, most of us found that this was still a dream. Various circumstances kept us from seeing this dream fulfilled. We anxiously awaited a day when “the stars would align” and we would finally become this unachievable individual.

And then, one day, after many tears, many heartbreaks, and many losses, we are Mom. This tiny being stares at us with huge eyes and climbs right into our heart. The world is finally just as it should be…or is it?

And then, reality. sets. in.

Somehow, all the years of aching and longing did not prepare us for the fact that being a Mom isn’t easy. It doesn’t just come naturally. It’s not a “walk in the park.” Being a mom is hard, really hard. Sometimes, it just plain stinks. And more often than not, we fail.

I prayed for seven years for my children. I cried and begged God for a baby. And then, I worked another six years to get three of them. I gave back four more. Seven pregnancies in six years. No pain, no gain, right? I just figured that being a Mom would be a joy – all the time. Not. I don’t cherish every single minute and sometimes, I even wonder what I was thinking.

My point?

I think that all moms struggle with feeling inadequate and insufficient. However, when you spend a good portion of your life yearning for something, you feel pretty guilty when you get it and then don’t always appreciate it, or when you feel that you have failed at making it successful.

  1. Here are a few truths to remember: God placed those children in your care for a reason. There is something that only you can teach them to prepare them for their future. Even your flaws will teach things that they need to make them into the adults that God wants them to be. Your handicaps and your inadequacies will give them compassion and understanding that they wouldn’t otherwise learn.

    Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee. Jeremiah 1:5a

    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Ephesians 1:4

    And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Romans 5:3-4

    2. You are the only biological mom they will ever have, so you are the best one they could have. If you are the only one, it just stands to reason that you are the best. Stop comparing yourself to your children’s other mothers, who don’t exist, and don’t compare yourself to other children’s mothers either. You can only see their “outsides.” You have no idea what they might be dealing with on the “inside.” God sees your heart. He knows your struggles and your shortcomings. Look to Him to help you work on these areas.

    Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12

    For he knows the secrets of the heart. Psalm 44:2b

    Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24

    Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Psalm 139:23

    And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15

    If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

    3. God will fill in the voids where you lack. You are human. God knows that we are not perfect. He doesn’t ask you to be perfect. He asks you to point your children to Him. You shouldn’t be their final role model anyhow. They should be looking to Christ to find fulfillment and satisfaction.

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

    Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. Deuteronomy 4:9

    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:5-6

    4. Being a mom is a role that you fill, not your identity. You may fail at times, but it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. It means that you are learning. We are all learning. You won’t stop learning until you leave this life. Take those mistakes as opportunities to share humility, repentance, and forgiveness with your children. They need to learn it too.

    For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

    Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

    Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13b

    5. Be the best woman that you can be. (Proverbs 31) That is all that you must do. Look at Scripture and see what is required of a mother. I know that I spent years being guilty because I didn’t constantly want to play with my children. Low and behold, I learned that I wasn’t called to be their entertainer! What a relief! Also, Don’t spend time worrying about what others say or think. It truly doesn’t matter. You don’t answer to them. You only answer to God for how you care for your children.

    For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20

    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23

    6. God will help you every. step. of. the. way. Just be YOU!

    My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26       

    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

    Original material by Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2015. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp50p09-30-2015