A few weeks ago, I was working with my son to clean out his room. It's a project we tackle every few months and it's time consuming. One major reason it takes so much time is because he keeps everything - and I do mean everything. I remember asking him, "Why are you holding onto all these things? You don't even use most of them anymore." During this process, I spend a lot of time convincing him to throw away broken toys and give outgrown items to friends or charity… and then I basically remove things behind his back.
Not too long after this, I was trying to figure out why I was in such a funk. And a thought crossed my mind, "What are you holding onto that you shouldn't be?". As I pondered this question, I realized that I was holding onto emotions, hurts, problems and circumstances that I shouldn't be.
While I look forward to the summer because of a more relaxed schedule and time at the beach, this season is a challenging time for me as the mother of a child with significant special needs.
As the weeks of summer vacation progressed, I got completely out of my routine and everything was out of sync with all three of my kids home at the same time. And almost without my realizing it, old thought patterns and hurts resurfaced. Feelings of guilt, shame, anger and jealousy that I had resolved years ago seemed to crop back up into my life. I looked at our daughter and didn't see the day-to-day life we were living but rather the years of caring for her without help stretching ahead of us. I saw that she was growing and getting bigger; and I didn't feel thankful that she was healthy, but instead I focused on how difficult it is for me to lift and carry her now and how on earth was I going to be able to lift her in 10 years when she is 20 and I am 60. These thoughts, among others, were becoming a defeating loop in my brain.
I tried bringing it to God, but old feelings and hurts were blocking my prayers. As I was wrestling with this, I heard Pastor Larry preach a sermon on worship. He talked about the fact that worship is not based on emotions because we can (and do) worship God during our times of suffering and struggle. This message was the push I needed to take my focus off of my circumstances and future worries and instead turn it God.
It hasn't happened overnight, but I've been able to go to God with my issues, even the ones I had resolved years ago but found myself holding onto again. As I worked to let go of things I shouldn't be clinging to and to find my joy again, I prayed Psalm 51:10 - 12 daily:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Another verse that I wrote down and turn to anytime I need peace and help getting the negative thoughts out of my mind is Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And Janet's blog post about God's love for us, was a sweet reminder while I was struggling to find my joy. Even though my circumstances haven't changed, I've been able to refocus my mind onto Him. When my thoughts go down a path they shouldn't, I'm able to bring them back to Jesus. I've been able to get back to a place of contentment again. My life may not unfold like I imagined it would, but I rest in the knowledge that my life looks exactly how God intends it to look.
So friends, I want to ask you: what are you holding onto that you shouldn't be? Are you, like my son, clinging to everything? What can you lay down at the feet of our Savior? I urge you to take your hurts and struggles to God. It may not change your circumstances, but it will change your life because the peace He offers surpasses all understanding.