When I was growing up, we were in church every time the doors were open. In fact, we were usually the ones opening the doors. I spent as much time at church as I did at home. My parents worked there, I went to school there, my house was practically on the property, and of course there were the services… Every once in a while I’d ask my parents, “Do I have to go to church tonight?” Without fail (why did I keep asking?) they would smile cheerfully and say, “Nope. You don’t have to go. You get to go!” No amount of contriving to escape from that explanation ever worked.
I really didn’t mind going to church. But every once in a while, I just wanted to stay home. Now that I’m an adult, I have to admit that every so often I take pleasure in missing a service just because. I love church and believe it’s important to be an active part of a community of faith, but I’ve never been one who thinks my relationship with God depends on never missing a service.
My parents were always very big on our attitude. Bad attitudes were simply not allowed. While I often begrudged their insistence that my attitude always be good, that I always try to find the good in something, I find these days that I really appreciate that training.
Most of the time, I look at my life and am overwhelmed with gratitude to God for giving me such blessings. I have much to be thankful for, including a nice, comfortable house to live in, enough work to keep me busy and financially sound, a good education, godly parents, great friends, and a man who loves me. I allow the feeling of being treasured by God, provided for, and blessed to wash over me and I rejoice in all that God has done.
But every once in a while different, unwelcome feelings flood over me. I won’t list out for you all the failures that accumulate in my mind, but at times they feel overwhelming. I can’t understand the delays, the rejection, the lack. When I put all my effort into something and it doesn’t work out, how do I handle the frustration and pain?
I’ve discovered that when I take my pain and frustration to the Lord, He soothes me. In prayer I am reminded that God’s timing is perfect. I am reminded that it’s not my job to make things happen, but to be open to accepting opportunities in obedience when they come. It’s not my job to make myself a success, but to humbly do all my hand finds to do as unto the Lord and wait for Him to bless me.
Even so, I find out that a fellow unknown writer/blogger got a major publishing opportunity because something he wrote got shared with the right person at the right time and my small, black, jealous heart twists in pain. Why him and not me, God? I like him. I like his writing. Why not BOTH of us? And then the ugliest of thoughts, that maybe he’ll mess up the opportunity and not write anything they want to publish. Maybe they’ll hate his writing and he’ll go back to being an unknown who is hopefully writing his little blog just like me… And the soft flutter of angel wings surrounds the green monster in my heart with soothing words of love. Be happy for him. Pray that he’ll succeed. Bless him as he writes. I have plans for you too.
And I know it’s true. I know I absolutely must bless him, cheer for him, and even be happy for him. I’m not sure if I can do it. Do I have to, Lord? Oh, but I get to. I get to watch my twisted and ugly heart become pure when it is washed with the love of Christ. I get to allow my Savior into that part of myself and give Him space to work. And when his first book comes out (for surely it will because he IS incredibly talented), and I congratulate him, I will mean it with all my heart. And I will know God has transformed me. I will know my decision to let God change my attitude has made all the difference.
The thing is, God is the one who has given me the gifts and talents I have. He is the one who has placed desires in my heart for good things. Why would God, who created me and loves me, give me these talents and desires and not provide a way for me to use them? If I continue to walk in obedience to what I believe He is guiding me to do, then I am sure to walk right into more than I could ever imagine for myself.
So I will be the best I can be at what I’ve been given to do now. I will be the best friend, the best girlfriend, the best daughter, the best sister and aunt, the best writer, and the best employee I can possibly be. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing I am doing what I am able to do, thanking God that He has provided for me. Most importantly, I will walk in obedience to His Word, doing all I can to stand before my Lord innocently, ready to do His will. I will trust Him to take care of me.
I will pray earnestly for the success of all those who have things that I wish I had. I will pray and pray and pray, not stopping until I can do so without gritting my teeth. I will pray until my heart really means it and I can really smile as I say the words. I will even thank God that I get to pray. Lord, cleanse my jealous heart…