the struggle.

real

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the struggle is real, y’all. and sometimes when i open my bible instead of throwing a temper tantrum like my nineteen month old, i realize it is the way it’s supposed to be. recently, i’ve been settling into the book of romans and am learning about the struggle of the oh so wise, paul. he calls himself a servant, and recognizes that means he is to embrace the struggle.

i hate the struggle. i get depressed by it. i get beat down by it. and i think to myself, in all my righteousness and complete darkness, if i am doing the right thing- things will shake out in my favor. sometimes they do turn out the way i have planned. but sometimes, they don’t, even when i’ve prayed, and prayed hard.

i am learning that paul prayed hard, he lived out a life worthy of the gospel. he was always ready to preach, serve, and suffer. he probably was the first one to raise his hand when the church hosted a clean up saturday. he probably put a post-it note on his bathroom mirror to remind him to pray for his preacher, and actually did it… and paul, beyond that, he was ready to die. because that’s what being a servant of jesus christ looks like sometimes. it’s not always a fun time. sometimes it’s really, really hard.

recently, while reading a commentary on romans one using blue letter bible, i read a truth that wrecked me…charles surgeon in his great wisdom said: ” i do not suppose that paul guessed that he would be sent there {rome} at the government expense, but he was. the roman empire had to find a ship for him, and a fit escort for him, and he entered he city as an ssador in bonds. when our hearts are set on a thing, and we pray for it. God may grant us the blessing; but, it may be, in a way that we never looked for. you shall go to rome, paul; but you shall go in chains.”

i’ve read these words a 100 times now and i can’t help but put myself in paul’s shoes. if i had known the stakes, would i have been so eager to follow Christ? i would have pitched a fit and said, “but, look at what i’ve done. i don’t deserve this. ” i’ve been a christian for over 20 years (by the way, they think paul had been a christian for that long when he wrote romans) and i haven’t learned to live like paul. i still feel entitled to an easier road.

i don’t deserve the easy road. and i am learning through the words of paul that i am to embrace the struggle- whatever that looks like. if i am pursuing a life worthy of the gospel- a life for Him- i have to commit to a life free from grumbling and be satisfied with the truth that He is in the struggle seeing me through regardless of the outcome.

Realities

Do you play the comparison game? I do. I get sucked into people’s highlight reels so often that I lose sight of my own reality. The power of social media is bizarre to me. It’s like road kill. I don’t want to look at it, but I can’t stop. I truly believe it’s generated insecurity in my life (as well as wasted a lot of time, but that’s a story for another day). Today, I was praying about the ways I get sucked into the comparison game and thought about a snap chat I sent the night prior.

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This picture “seems” relaxing. It “seems” like the reality of my situation is calm and peaceful. However, in that moment, the truth, the reality, I felt anything but… The baby was screaming and being rocked by Jason just outside my door. That is NOT my definition of a relaxing atmosphere. To top it off, the view of my dirty laundry was enough to send any mom into a full blown panic attack. The bath and the wine were just a snapshot of my reality; but not all encompassing.

Almost suddenly it hit me… This is where the root of my problem resides. The truth is, I create impressions in my head- of people, things, and circumstances that are not real. I frame my attitudes, desires, and feelings of worth around these impressions and get sucked in… It leads to aggravation, depression, frustration, and anxiety and in the end, is all meaningless.

When I was praying about this dark condition of my heart, I found a couple of scriptures that encouraged me to plant myself in the promises of the Lord instead of the seeds of discontentment that are created by my mind.

Isaiah 33:6 says, “He will be your sure foundation, a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.”

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “Set your sights on the realities of Heaven, where Christ sits in place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of Heaven, not the earth.”

When I set my eyes on the Lord, I’m not caught up in creating pictures that make it seem like I’ve got it all together. I’m also not caught in the trap of feeling insecure because I don’t. My eyes are set on the Heavenlies and I’m focused on His storehouse. The beauty and blessing that comes from hot water for a bath, a cold drink, and the opportunity to have a husband in the home willing to rock a baby so I can shave my legs. In my mind and heart, I need to be more diligent about recognizing the good. The realities of my situation are far greater than most of the world, even in the snapshot view. When I compare them to another person’s highlight reel, I lose sight of the gift in front of me.