Can I just tell you that last week was one of the most difficult I’ve walked out in a long time?
A close friend had a health crisis that only God could avert, and He did. I had the privilege of walking out some of that with her, her family, and our other friends.
There were issues with the boys. And with their school. And with the boys. Yes, I meant to say that twice.
As I put out fires and sent messages to people who needed to know some of what was going on, I struggled against the urge to escape.
Sometimes, I need to be still, to handwrite out all that’s burdening my heart.
I found myself wishing I was living a different reality. One where the boys didn’t push back on every consequence, on the things that Hubs and I know are good for them.
A reality where everything was going as we want at the boys’ school.
A reality where there was rest and time to do the things I wanted to do.
I wanted to run away. Only all the “stuff” would still be here when I got back.
Because of course I would come back.
As I wrote, the Lord showed me I was asking to not be present.
Would you think less of me if I may have slightly nodded my head to that assertion?
There are times when I would rather not be present.
And then I felt convicted.
I threw myself a little pity party, but I wasn’t trusting the Lord to be present with me.
But He is.
In every heartbreak. Every frustration. Through every hurtful thing said and heard . . . my Father is with me.
Even when it’s hard to be present with our sons, in their teenage willfulness, I’m called to be there. Not to be a doormat, but to be love with skin on.
I can only love well when I’m leaning hard into Jesus…on the One who is always present with me.
I know this passage discusses Paul’s physical needs being met. Could it also apply to some of our internal needs?
When I long for escape from my reality, I’m looking to meet my needs somewhere . . . in Australia, as I sometimes joke. Or in a good movie or book. Or in doing things I don’t normally allow myself to do.
I’m searching for contentment outside myself. Ultimately, even if I do watch a chick flick in the middle of the day, or spend hours reading a great book, my problems will still stare me in the face when I complete my distraction.
When I want to escape rather than be present and work through the current “hard,” my focus is in the wrong place.
Paul learned how to be content in every circumstance. He learned how to set his eyes on Jesus and not on what people said or did, or didn’t say or do. He found contentment when he trusted his Savior to provide for every need.
That’s where I stumbled. I focused on the pile of “stuff” burdening my heart all week long rather than at the One who’s working in the midst of each situation.
When I look to Jesus to strengthen me . . .
. . . to give me what I need to walk alongside my friend during her very challenging life-change
. . . to give me love and the right perspective when a boy is defying me
. . . to fill me with His peace when emotions run hot
That’s when I have the willngness to be present in the current hard.
That’s when I develop the strength and the energy to be what He wants me to be for the people in my life.
What about you? When have you sensed the Lord’s presence? What helps you persevere when many areas of life seem to be closing in?
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Jeanne, this is deep and so true. I often want to live up to my name and bail. Problem is, I’d take myself with me. Nobody can be “me” in my situation except for me. If that makes sense. Or you in yours. Hope things are better this week.
Kathy, Yes, I understand your words. We can never escape ourselves, though, can we? I’m thankful the Lord is patient and gracious with us, and that He helps us when we want to run. Things have been better this week, thank you. Hugs, friend!
Oh this right here, Jeanne–>’I need to be still, to handwrite out all that’s burdening my heart.’
I’ve spent more time in this mode of prayer than ever in the last 5 weeks … and it’s been in that place of desperation that I’ve met the calming presence of God. Right in the midst of the craziness and the pain and the fear.
Your heart is resonating with mine this morning. Thank you, friend …
Linda, I’m so sorry you’ve had such a difficult season. I find that I tend to hear God’s voice more clearly when I’m journaling. I’m so glad He’s met you there. I’m praying for you, friend.
Oh, friend! What a week! And I would want to go to Australia too when I am having a no good, terrible, very bad day. The lessons you learned through this week are such a generous gift from God. This truth —–> I can only love well when I’m leaning hard into Jesus…on the One who is always present with me. This really hit home.
As part of some discipleship work I am doing, we are talking about the truth that God meets us in reality. Until we lean into Him in those messy and hard places we miss the boat of HIs truth, love, and strength. Thank you for your vulnerability.
It was quite a week, Mary! You know the story I referenced! 🙂 And yes, those lessons were generous gifts from God. I’m thankful for His patience and grace when I. am.done. I like your words about how Jesus meets us in reality. It’s so true that we must lean into Him in the messy and hard places. Thank you for your encouraging words, my friend.
Aren’t you glad that God is present and knows exactly what we need and helps us take our next steps? Oh, that we would lean on Him more. May others see the gap-filling Christ in us.
Yes, Stephen, I’m soooo glad that God is always present and always knowing. He’s so good at guiding us, if we’ll listen, isn’t He? Thank you for stopping by!
So good! I remember those moments of parenting The Boys. Marriage also presents moments of “the hard.” I love this insight: “As I wrote, the Lord showed me I was asking to not be present.” Wanting to run away (to Australia), standing there and being “love with skin on” are Superhuman accomplishments sometimes and can often only be accomplished by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. When we do, when we love, when we continue to press toward them, when we don’t run off to Australia, we end up with children who become our best friends in their adulthood and in marriages that make it, if both of us are equally committed to not running when “the hard” happens. And, no matter what, we still have our Savior and Lord and his intimate fellowship in any kind of hard that hits us. Any and every kind of “the hard” is no match for his grace.
Melinda, you’re right. being love with skin on is only possible with the Lord’s help. Your words about how choosing to be present even in the hard moments yields stronger, more authentic relationships when they become adults give me hope to hold onto on the hard days. You’re right, we do always have our Savior, and that is the best reassurance I can hold onto. Thank you so much for encouraging words, Melinda.
I think I can understand your struggle Jeanne! Our hearts and minds yearn for peace in the middle of chaos and think by changing where we are at will create the peace. But, it sure isn’t that simple. There is always peace in His presence though, isn’t there? It’s a lesson I am still learning over and over too. 🙂
Yes, Lynn, our hearts and minds to yearn for peace when chaos strikes. My inclination is to try and find peace, sometimes at the expense of being present. You’re right. There is always peace in the Lord’s presence. I’m glad I’m not alone in learning this. 😉
Oh Jeanne, I’m so sorry for the difficult week you had. You were already dealing with a lot lately. When I was reading this, I thought, “Oh dear, she is already being tested with her word for the year – ‘present.'” And it occurred to me how these struggles that make you want to run away drive you closer to the Presence of Jesus and His power and willingness to help you through. So true for me as well. I love the truth you share that we can only love well by leaning hard into Jesus, the One who is always present for us. Oh, so true. Please don’t be too hard on yourself, dear friend. I know for sure that Jesus isn’t. You may be exhausted and wanting to run away, but everything I read in your posts tells me you’re a devoted, loving mom who always wants the best for her boys. Thank you for all your vulnerable, honest posts that make others feel less alone, myself included! Love and blessings of strength, guidance, and peace for each day!
Trudy, your words here touched me deeply. God does have a way of revealing new things to us regarding our Words, doesn’t He? I was talking with a friend of mine, who’s also being tested regarding her word. And yes, those struggles we each face have a great capacity to draw us closer to the Lord’s Presence. He is always faithful to help us through. I’m glad we don’t have to face hard situations on our own. I deeply appreciate your encouragements, sweet friend. Thank you.
Sensing the presence of God brings me comfort and peace. In times of joy and in times of stress, I can pause and feel His presence.
Yes, Melissa, me too. His peace does calm my own crazy heartbeats. I loved your words here. Thank you so much for sharing them.
Oh Jeanne … it’s all good until it’s not good, isn’t it? You’ve had such a lot to deal with, so many emotionally taxing tasks and encounters. You remain in my prayers, my friend. 🙂
Lois, so true! It’s all good . . . until it’s not. God is gracious. He gives us what we need to get through the hard seasons. I’m thankful for His patience when I want to just throw everything back at Him. Thankfully, He knows how to restore perspectives and spirits. Thanks for those prayers. I’ll take ’em!
I think IRL, we could be friends. I don’t know about you, but I felt like a reasonably competent mother until my kids reached their teen years. Ahh the push-back, the butting heads, and we, as moms, seem to absorb everything they dish out. I’m working on going to my knees sooner rather than later. Thanks for the reminder.
Lisa, your comment made me smile. Yeah, these teen years . . . they’re bringing me to my knees in a slew of ways. I’m trying to navigate interactions with our boys using grace, but sometimes, that voice raises and my heart pounds. We do tend to absorb what they dish out. Thank you for sharing your “kindred spirit” words here. 🙂
Oh how I have felt like running away from home. Raising boys is HARD! Many times I wondered what would possess my son to do some of the things he did? Those were some trying years. I’ve earned these grey hairs. I encourage you to do what you are doing – lean into the Lord. It’s okay not to be content in the moment. God gets what you’re going through. I believe we can be completely frazzled and still, deep down, hold onto trust that God’s got us…He’s got our kids…He’s in control. Praying for the joy that comes in the morning after weeping has endured for the night.
Bev, your words speak such comfort and encouragement. Thank you for that. Sending you a hug, sweet friend!
I’ve been there. Wanting to escape from the present. But until I stay present and do the hard work, like you said, if I leave for awhile it will all be there when I come back. Knowing that often helps me stay and try to solve it as quickly as possible. But sometimes things drag on and on. And then I need to remember God’s faithfulness and keep my eyes planted on him and remember every life has valleys and mountaintops. We are always moving from one or the other. Hang in there, sweat friend. Sending some prayers up for you.
I’m so thankful for God’s faithful patience. Sometimes, I guess we have to reason through our impulses and settle on the reality that God is there, in each moment, ready to walk through the hard circumstances with us. And, as you said, Theresa, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Him as we walk along the valleys and mountaintops. Thanks for your prayers and your encouraging words!
I often to look to other things for help, but I’ve found the only REAL comfort I can find is in Jesus. Thank you, Jeanne. xoxo
This is often true of me: “When I want to escape rather than be present and work through the current “hard,” my focus is in the wrong place.” I’ve found the problem with pity parties is no one else is invited or even wants to come. So we are alone. The Lord is showing me in my hardship right now, that it is intended to draw me closer to Him…staying near to God and His heart is the only way I will survive this.
You’re right, Karen. Pity parties don’t really solve anything . . . at least not long term. For me, they tend to make me end up feeling worse because my focus was all about me. I think any hardship the Lord allows into our lives is intended to draw us closer to Himself. I’m praying for you, Karen. ((HUGS))
I needed this today. I have been in same place as you. Trying to be constantly entertained to escape the thoughts in my own head. Visiting you from the purposeful faith link up. laurensparks.net
It’s easy to seek entertainment as an escape, isn’t it? We all have to come to the place where we acknowledge our desire for distraction and ask our Father to help us be still so we can find His strength for the hard seasons. I’m blessed that you stopped by!
Jeanne, I think we can all admit there are situations or even seasons of life where we have felt overwhelmed, tired, fed-up and just wish it were different. But we are called to face and walk through our adversity trusting God is with us and he will provide and protect us through it all. I have been writing a book of The Book of Job and what it can teach us about suffering and his story resonates so deeply with me. There were moments that he desperately lamented about wanting his pain and suffering to end , but his faith sustained him. I pray I can remain as faithful in my trials and tests. I read something interesting in a commentary about Paul’s suffering. It just posed the question about the source of Paul’s pain, wondering why we assume it is a physical pain. The commentator wondered if Paul’s thorn was a judgmental nature. They based this on how he argued and turned on John Mark, Barnabas and others and how perhaps he was praying to be released from this temperament. Anyway, I thought it an interesting perspective and felt inspired if it were true, because it would suggest that Paul struggled with many of the things we do. What are your thoughts?
Yes, Anne, we all face times when we wish things were different. But, God tells us the rain falls on the just and the unjust. The good thing is, those of us who know Jesus have the hope of His presence with us in the rainy seasons.
I had never read those thoughts about Paul’s thorn in the flesh, though I can see how the idea of a judgmental nature could fit into that. I guess we won’t know for certain until we get to heaven. I’ve always had a sense that Paul was a very strong personality, very determined in what he sensed God calling him to. I kind of wonder if maybe he had to learn how to give the grace Jesus offers each person and to allow Jesus to temper some of his hard edges. I would have to agree with you . . . as amazing a man as Paul was, I’m certain he struggled just like the rest of us. It does make him a little easier to relate to when we remember that.
I didn’t know you are writing a book about the book of Job. I can only imagine how much you’ve learned . . . and what in your life prompted this.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Anne!
Wow, wow, wow! Loved this, Jeanne. We all should give ourselves permission to throw a little pity party for ourselves once in a while without feeling too guilty. After your moment of wanting to escape, you did what you needed to do, rolled up your sleeves and dealt with the situation(s) at hand. God does give you the strength to face the hard times we all inevitably face. I sometimes fantasize about wanting to be on a beach somewhere sipping on a cold drink, preferably one with an umbrella in it, but then I realize that my own real life is pretty awesome.
Laurie, I guess it’s part of our human nature to want to escape. The question is, what do we do next? I’m glad God gives grace when we need those moments to grapple with the emotions, the pity parties. I’m also glad He helps us not to stay there too long. I love your perspective that your life is pretty awesome. When I take a step back from the immediate, I can see the same thing about mine.
Sounds like the Potter really has you on His wheel. Just rememberIt came to pass; it didn’t come to stay. keep close to you. Thanks Jeanne. I needed this today. God bless you.
You’re right, Mom. Trials pass, they don’t stay…at least not forever. I’m so glad these words encouraged you.
Some of the most important words in the Bible are “And it came to pass”. Write that down on a 3×5 card to remind yourself.
I love this, Frances. You’re right. I’ll be thinking on that!
Joanne wrote what I was poised to write. God is always closer than we think. The beauty of each sunset, the beauty in each fallen leaf and dried-up stalk testify to his love for us. May you continue to feel his embrace as you travel with him through your hard days. Keep looking for the grace notes.
Anita, you’re right. God is always closer than we think or can comprehend. Sometimes, I just forget. Thank you for your encouragements, my friend.
Good Morning Jeanne, we’ve all been there once or twice. Your last photo says it all. You were looking in the side view mirror at the stunning sunset behind you in which God’s glory is displayed. The words on the mirror – “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Praise God! He is always closer to us than circumstances around us would have us to believe. And He gives us the strength to be present right in the middle of those hard days. May He continue to be with you, and with your family, giving you all you need for those in your life. Thank you for this beautiful encouragement this morning!
Joanne, thank you for your beautiful words. I’m so glad God is closer than He sometimes appears. And you’re right, He does give strength for each circumstance He places in our paths. That’s probably the biggest reminder He shared with me last week. Thank you for your prayers, my friend. I appreciate you!
Sometimes I just can’t buy it,
what God will try to sell,
but now I have gone quiet,
and it’s time for ASL.
I know He has a reason,
and that He has a plan,
but in this ice-hard season
I wonder if I can
just take off for tropic climes
where pain’s removed and voice restored,
and hang loose in better times
riding a longboard.
But if I could I wouldn’t meet
the demons He would have me beat.
Andrew, God does have a way of helping us stay grounded in the space where He’s planted us. You are a warrior, and you’re already victorious, my friend. I’m praying for you.
Very true and thanks for sharing!
I appreciate you stopping by! Thank you so much!