Friday, January 17, 2014

Bless the Lord, O my soul

Well folks, here we are again -- one more Friday almost under our belts and we're that much closer to breathing a {small and humble} sigh of relief. It feels as though these past few Fridays have been few and far between, but we're making it.

It is my hope that this post will bring some encouragement today. I feel like it's so easy to slip into the mindset that we don't need encouragement - that we're good on our own. We work 40+ hours a week, hit the gym like nobody's business, plan meals, clean house, grocery shop, and the like. Sometimes we're in a routine - a good routine - where we're busy, or maybe not so busy, but we're managing and comfortable.

But then sometimes that routine gets interrupted, and sometimes we don't handle stress or change or interruptions very well. And we realize that we need something (or someone, or both) positive in our lives to remind us that, really, everything will be okay - it's just a season.

I'm not going to lie, the past few weeks have been somewhat of a challenge - between a chaotic time at work, starting to train for another race, after hours work events, and a few other side projects, I've felt a tad (<- this is used VERY loosely) frazzled and unfocused.

There have been too many times where I've felt that it's almost too much to even try to hold it together and press forward. There have been too many mornings where I let stress, worry and anxiety keep me from getting a grip and facing the day. Too many mornings where I let myself feel too weak and overwhelmed to get out of bed on time in the mornings.

I knew every time I felt sad, down, overwhelmed, and such that it was me...the problem was ME. I was getting in my own way and I just needed to snap out of it and press on. Apart from the challenges, there were so many good things happening around me, and I was letting myself miss out on it all and continued to feel beat down and, frankly, tired.

Enter in the Lord:

"Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand."
- Psalm 37:24 (KJV)

I was led to this verse this afternoon and it was a great reminder that, yes, we're going to go through seasons that are good, and seasons that are trying and hard -- but even when we fall, when we feel that we've failed worse than ever - we won't be cast down forever. We won't stay there forever -- because God is there. And He will help us get up again.

"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way: they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them out of their distresses."
Psalm 107: 4-6

Over lunch today, I had a desperate desire to just open up my Bible and read. Sure I've read devotionals in the morning and read a verse here and there before bed every once in awhile, but I haven't really read like I should. One thing that stood out to me, almost immediately, in this verse was the word "solitary." They wandered in a "solitary" way; they wandered alone, basically. I think we can all agree that, when you're down, "alone" is not exactly a fun feeling.

And another thing -- they "wandered." They had no direction. They had no idea where they were or where they were going. They were just wandering in the wilderness. I don't know about you, but feelings of stress and anxiety only escalate when I can't see a purpose -- when the chaos makes no sense or has no direction...when I'm really not sure if it will be "worth it" once I've reached whatever I'm trying for.

A job may not feel "right," but the thought of leaving feels wrong, too. People seem to be WAY too critical lately, and you're tired of feeling bad about yourself. You're working late but still hitting the gym afterwards and still not seeing the results you want. And all this healthy eating and "cutting back" just makes you want a gooey brownie topped with loads of ice cream (and sprinkles - always sprinkles) washed down with a double-chocolate mocha latte frozen with full-fat milk and a shot of expresso, because what's the point?

Sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"...Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses."

What wonderful assurance. He hasn't forgotten, nor will he ever forget us.

When we look to God - when CRY to Him - He's there. And I'm not talking about the "Hey God, can you fix this real quick? Because I'm stuck and all but I'm still going to try to dig my way out of this, too" kind of mindset. I mean fully, completely, totally giving it up to God. His timing is perfect - we may not be able to see the end of our trials, but He's already got it covered.

He will uphold us with His hand. And he will NEVER leave or forsake us.

And when we fail, when we screw up and make an even bigger mess? He still loves us.

"But he giveth more grace."
James 4:6 *

Our struggles have a purpose. There is a reason for the stress, the anxiety, the frustration - it's only a season, and it will get better.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul: 
and all that is within me, bless his holy name."
Psalm 103:1

*James comes right after Hebrews in the New Testament, b-t-dubs. Why do I ALWAYS forget where James is?

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