Meltdowns, scream fests, arguing, fighting, frustration, anger, crying. Unfortunately, not all of these describe the behaviors of my three little boys. I have to take responsibility for some of them. It’s even quite possible that I experienced each one of these this week.
If there was ever a time in my life when I felt I must have fulfilled my earthly duty, it was yesterday. Heaven looked even more appealing to me than before. I had reached rock bottom. I had become more of a hindrance to those in my family than a help. I was a complete failure. There was nothing more I could offer and nothing positive in my life.
I would love to say, “…and then I woke up.” Unfortunately, it was not a dream. I was in the pit of selfishness and ungratefulness. How in the world did I get here?
It’s easy actually to get into a self-centered rut. We wallow in what we do not have or what we wish we had. We wallow in the challenges and frustrations of life. We sit and shamefully lick our, this-isn’t-fair wounds, angry at God for handing us the short stick. We are a selfish people.
I can easily blame the grief of losing my dad – because that is a huge struggle; I can easily blame my boys – because they are a huge challenge; I can easily blame the constant demands of our home – because some days I am dropping every single ball I try to juggle; I can easily blame my husband for not being here – because he’s gone anywhere from fifty-eight to seventy-two hours each week. I can blame lots of things and lots of people. But who is to blame? Surely it’s God then. He isn’t giving me enough strength or blessing me as He promises to do to those who are faithful to Him. Pshht.
Me. The problem is me. I am the one to blame for my behavior. Many things happen that are beyond our control. Parenting is difficult. Marriage takes work. People are cruel. Life demands our time. But we are still responsible for our responses to each moment.
I reflected on all this at four o’clock this morning. I came to the conclusion that I have been selfishly choosing me. I have been shamefully choosing my own sinful nature. I have let it win over and over again. My expectations and wants and needs (what I think are needs) aren’t being met. When a situation arises, I expect a certain outcome. Let’s be honest, my boys are not going to be easy – they are four, three and one-and-a-half! My husband has no choice but to work – thanks to the curse in the garden. The demands of life will always be. These things I cannot change. But I have been hoping and praying for the challenges and struggles to be just taken away – for life to be easier. The struggles will not go away. Though the current ones may evolve into other forms of struggle, I will never be free of them. And really, at the root of it all, still lies my sin nature. So even if life itself would get a bit easier, my sin nature will still exist.
So what do I do? What can I do?
It’s one simple word, though not so easy in execution: surrender. I need to consciously say, “I choose God.” I choose to surrender my wants and my expectations; I choose to accept what God has allowed in my life and I choose to fully trust Him with my life.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I need to choose God, not blame Him. To choose God is to think of Him first; to be thankful no matter the circumstances; to remember He sent His own Son to die on the cross, freeing me from the shackles of sin and providing a way to have a personal relationship with Him; to not blame anything or anyone else, but taking full responsibility for my actions; to accept His will despite what I want or need; to give Him glory in all things.
Choosing God is giving back the steering wheel. It’s choosing to let Him drive; surrendering my life back to Him. (This will happen daily as I constantly catch myself reaching over to grab the wheel again. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Deny himself and take up his cross daily. I dare say some days this will be every hour.)
It’s so much easier to choose me – though the road is rougher and much less rewarding, especially in eternity’s view – but as for me, I choose God.
Who do you choose?