When fear is bigger than you…
Have you ever felt paralyzed by fear? I have. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with the hows and whys and all the unknown questions that I had no answers to. Feelings of failure and inadequacy that were so much bigger than me; almost bigger than my faith. Almost… It was so much bigger than me that it almost took my breath away; that it was felt all throughout my body. I felt like I was at the brink of tears so many times while going through the everyday motions of life. Feeling so unbalanced; just. on. the. edge.
As a person that has prayed my whole life, it was almost that I didn’t have the words to pray for myself. The heaviness of worry was crushing my spirit. It was at those moments, when I couldn’t move past the worry and fear, that I asked others to pray for me. Few knew the reason for the worry, but all knew that they don’t have to know, that God knows and that is enough. I soooo believe in the power of prayer.
Sitting on my porch drinking coffee days later (one of my favorite places to be!), the worry settled in. It was like an unwanted shadow that pervaded my thoughts and emotions. As I was sitting there and reflecting on all the questions that I had without answers, fighting the worry and fear, I felt God’s presence. It was in this moment, that I felt peace. True peace; one that didn’t provide answers but rather a whisper of assurance that said, “I got this LaDonna. You don’t have to carry these burdens because I am. The journey will still be hard but the end will be okay”.
Can you say life-changing?? The complete peace that I felt is beyond description. It has carried me through so many ups and downs and sleepless nights. The journey has been hard and it probably still will be, but in the back of my mind and in my heart, I know that in the end it will be alright. And that is enough for me.
I still don’t have the hows or whys answered, but I know that His whisper was exactly what I needed to help me on this journey. Because in the end… it will be alright.
I am in charge of our church’s Easter Egg hunt this year. And we are doing it up in a BIG way; like 10,000 eggs. We are a small church with approximately 100 people; so this is a huge outreach for us. Well, I am thinking that I am all organized and on my way to accomplishing all the things that need to be done this week. My mistake.
I head to our local Walmart to pick up the 8,000 eggs that I had pre-ordered. I had to wait a while for someone to load them up on a pallet for me and bring them to the front of the store for me to take to my car. They finally arrive and I take a look at the cart and they were REAL eggs. 8,000 real eggs that you could eat. I wasn’t sure if I should cry or throw up. Fortunately, I did neither.
Seriously?? I needed 8,000 eggs to stuff with candy and toys in two days and I have nothing! How did this happen? Who would need 8,000 real eggs? Where did I go wrong with communicating that I needed 8,000 eggs for a Easter Egg hunt? After establishing with the store manager who ordered them that it was wrong and they would graciously take care of it; I head to the Easter section to try to begin the process of finding 8,000 PLASTIC Easter eggs on the shelf.
Several of the cashiers at the registers and the customers checking out were talking about the lady who ordered 8,000 eggs accidentally. It became a walk of shame. Just a little bit embarrassing!
I loaded my cart with the eggs I could find and checked out at the fartherest check-out line from the Customer Service desk and left as quickly as I could. That was kind of hard because as soon as I left the store, the wind blew some of the packages of eggs out of my cart and as soon as I would pick up some, more blew out. Darn that Oklahoma wind! I finally made it to my car, loaded it up and left with my tail tucked between my legs. It will be a while before I go back to that Walmart! But, I’m sure they will have some eggs in the diary department that will be on sale in a few days. I’ll have to send the husband….
The source of the green-eyed monster
I added a new friend on Facebook; a friend from my past that I hadn’t connected with in a while. I looked through her pictures and albums, taking my time to see her life portrayed in pictures. While looking at her life in review, I got bit by the monster. You know the one… the big ugly one with green eyes that brings misery with it to anyone it bites.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I like my friend. She is perfect in every way. Let me tell you all the ways…. she is absolutely gorgeous, thin with perfect hair. Her kids could be models for The Gap or Hollister. She lives in a beautiful house; money isn’t a struggle and they take wonderful vacations to exotic places like Hawaii and Mexico. She is a stay at home mom who has the ability to do it all and to do it effortlessly. Oh, and did I say that she’s thin and beautiful? (Yes, it bears repeating…)
While I am happy with her accomplishments; her successes brought out all my inadequacies. Ten minutes ago I was quite content with my life. Now I see all the things that I don’t have that she does. I don’t like this feeling. The monster not only brought jealousy with it but a whole host of other sins with it: discontentment, greed, envy, and unhappiness. Catching a glimpse of my reflection in the computer screen, I’m troubled by the look in my eyes and the frown on my face.
I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. I struggle with these feelings all afternoon and confess my guilt to my husband who assures me that I am just as wonderful (while chuckling!). Later that night, God checks my heart… He makes me pause and reflect on my life. And while I wrestle with this little episode of jealousy, I know that it is wrong; it is wrong of me to be unhappy with where I am at in my life. I, too, have successes and accomplishments. While they may not be as glamorous or as beautiful as hers, they are worthwhile nonetheless. God opened my eyes to see that when I make the blessings in my life seem insignificant or less than someone else’s; that it really robs God of the good things that He has done for me.
I have great health, financial security, great kids and a loving and faithful husband. I have dear friends, a wonderful church family, a great small-town community and my faith that gets me through my daily journey. What more could I truly want? To want anything more than what I already have seems greedy and vain. I may not have exactly what she has, but I have all that I could want (okay, except the thin and perfect hair part!) in this lifetime.
After this little jealousy episode, I see that I’m struggling with some of the same things my 17-year-old daughter struggles with. She also, wants what so many of the other kids have. She is so convinced that everybody else has nicer clothes, better shoes, etc. I find it ironic that I tell her those things don’t matter when sometimes they do. We both want to fit in and be accepted by everybody else and that what other people think of us really matters more than it should.
I am reminded of my MANY blessings and I cannot help but have renewed joy, peace and increased faith … And most of all, I can be content with what I have while also being happy for the blessings that my friend has.
I was on my home one day from a busy day of shopping and driving through the country. It was a road that I travel frequently and it was a gray and gloomy day. As I was going around a corner and down a small hill, I noticed an old barn set back from the road a bit. Now, if you know me, you will know that I love seeing old barns and farmhouses alongside the road. I love seeing what they represent; the hard work and kinship that the family farm requires. In Iowa, where I grew up, the beauty of the landscape with the picturesque barns, silos and farmhouses are a spiritual beauty to me. Especially with the rolling hills surrounded by rows of corn with their stalks pointing high in the air and their shiny leaves waving in the breeze. I always feel so close to God and it is one of the most beautiful sceneries to me.
This old barn that I noticed was old and worn. No remains of paint were on the building; the wood was dark from years of being neglected from the elements. Boards were missing from the roof and also the sides of the walls. You could see through the entire structure. The most obvious fault was that it was leaning very noticeably to the west. It leaned so far that it looked like it could topple over at any moment while looking so forlorn and so dilapidated. It made me sad that a barn was in such disrepair that it no longer served any purpose. It was an eyesore that was on the brink of collapse. It looked as if one board moved or fell, that the whole structure would fall to the ground.
The analogy was instant to me. That old dilapidated barn is me. I am worn out and exhausted; I feel like I am falling apart. I feel that I am out of balance that if one thing in my life shifts, that I will fall apart with it as well. Between church, school, shuttling my kids around, helping my husband with the guttering business, keeping up with the constant data entry and keeping my house clean at least to the point of where I am not embarrassed if someone comes by. Add upcoming church and family obligations to that list and I am feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. And if I ‘m feeling this way, I am probably not too pretty to look at just like that old barn.
But that barn has not fallen. It has been that way for years. It’s always been there for as long as I have lived in Oklahoma (going on 20 years). It has weathered storms and the elements for years and yet it still stands even though it looks like it can’t remain standing for much longer. I am still that barn. I am tired but I keep going. My strength comes from God and the endurance that He has given me. I have weathered the daily hustle and bustle of life and I remain intact. I have not fallen, I have not collapsed, and I am still standing.
Maybe it’s time to slow down, relax about the clean house, don’t get so intense about meeting my weekly work deadline, and enjoy the time spent with my husband while I work alongside him. I need to take the time to be new and improved; to be present in my kids’ lives; to slow down and enjoy life. Maybe all I need to do is slap a new coat of paint on myself and not just stand and survive but to stand and thrive.
Does a pedicure with freshly painted toenails count as a new coat of paint? I think it does!
This could use a new coat of paint.