This Too Shall Pass...
Trying to keep a biblical perspective in hard times.
Toilet paper. Ugh. Who's tired of hearing about toilet paper? What about hand sanitizer, and empty shelves, and social distancing? Stay-at-home orders and COVID-19? Tired of those? Oh good, me too! It would be so nice if this coronavirus would just disappear (and toilet paper would reappear on the shelves), but it hasn't. At least not yet. We're kind of stuck here for awhile.
Life is life. And we go through hard times sooner or later. At some point we all realize that life can be hard and it feels fragile at times. And that's scary. At least I know that when things start to get really hard in my life, I just want it to go back to normal. I think, that's enough of this thank you very much! I just want God to step in and save the day immediately and NOT have to go through the hard time. But it hasn't always worked that way for me. I've had to go THROUGH the hard times and not AROUND it (like I want), at least sometimes.
But those hard times that I went through changed me. They made me a better person, kinder and more loving. I understand more of the hurts and sufferings of others because of what I felt. I've learned to trust God more because of the things I have gone through. God used those hard times in my life to take away my heart of stone and give me a heart that can feel and I like having that! I like having a heart that can be touched and loved and be compassionate towards others.
Trust me, I am not perfect, and I didn't always like it at the time, but what didn't kill me made me stronger. Hard times are like that for all of us, right? They can make us better or make us bitter, we have the choice. They say that the same boiling water that can harden the egg can also soften the carrot. We are resilient and I pray we come out of this time as better people!
So I just want to encourage you today, as we go through this new and crazy season, to take a deep breath and remember this too shall pass. It will not go on forever. It is a season. Some day this will be a distant memory. But thinking of our family and home during this hard time, how can we continue to make it a refuge and a place of peace? How can we, as the makers and the managers of our homes, continue to make it sweet? I want to look to the bible and follow a wonderful example of the Proverbs 31 woman.
"When it snows, she has no fear for her household" v.21
It is a strange world when "stay safe" is a common way to finish a conversation. It makes it seem like there is danger lurking everywhere. That image, and the reality of our situation, can create fear in us. But this verse above says that when "snow" comes (danger or hard times) we have no fear. How can that be? If we are full of fear or panic, how can we reassure others? We cannot give what we do not have. If we do not have peace in your own hearts we can not give it to those around us. We are a source of strength for our children, for our spouse, for our family and friends. We create the atmosphere of our home and the environment around us.
Most people say that they are a people of faith. But what does that faith look like? When the hard times come, like they do in everyone's life, is our faith a faith that sustains us? Is it enough to just believe in a far away God or do you really believe that you can rely on a close and personal God to carry you through? A God that loves you and has plans for your life? There comes a time in our lives that we draw a line in the sand and ask ourselves, men or mice? Are we going to cower in fear like mice or our we going to rise up like men or women of faith and believe God is who He says He is and trust Him? Can you look to your faith, to God, and allow Him to give you a peace that surpasses all understanding? You can have that!
Sometimes we do have that faith, but fear tries to set in anyway. The wonderful thing about our brains is that we can think about what we think about. Nothing can have "space" in our minds unless we allow it to. One thought can become our reality, so we have to guard our thoughts. When things get hard, stress comes in, and fear tries to follow, you have to choose what you are going to focus on.
I was out walking in my yard the other day and I caught a glimpse of these two trees. One tiny little beautiful blooming pear and one giant overwhelming oak that is almost dead. It reminded me of faith and fear. Fear can be large and overwhelming but nothing good comes from it. It takes up a lot of space but bears nothing fruitful. The little one is like faith, a tiny bit can be beautiful and inspiring to those around it, and it produces life and fruit.
Our circumstances can look huge and overwhelming to us from our perspective, but think how it looks from God's perspective, tiny and minuscule. It's ok to feel weak sometimes, we all do, but that brings us back to our loving Father once again. The bible says that, "Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." (Proverbs 24:16) You can have fear, but fear can't have you.
It is in our darkest moments that we must focus on the light. When fear tries to get a hold of you, remind your fear how big your God is!
"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." v. 17
I know for me, when I have joy in my heart I can accomplish anything! When my heart is happy, I can put some uplifting music on and get the whole house clean! It's amazing what can be done when we feel good!
You have to make sure that you are taking care of yourself during this time. It's hard to make home sweet, if you are feeling all doom and gloom. I read some good tips for taking care of yourself during this time: (source)
1. Open the curtains and shades
2. Play music all day in the kitchen
3. Take a shower and wear clean clothes
4. Drink water in a fancy glass
5. Call at least one friend a day
6.Watch a movie in the afternoon (or I would add just take some time to relax)
7. Go on at least one walk or bike ride
And I would also add-
8. Do something creative!
This is all good practical advice! Also think about turning the news off!!
These first days of spring are so beautiful and inspiring! It was so warm out the other day and my little four year old daughter was yelling in wind, "This is the best day ever!" She was right, it really felt like it! This spring-time beauty reflects the nature of God, it is good and beautiful.
Even in hard times (or especially!), we have to choose joy. It is not something that comes naturally, but joy can give you strength that you never knew you had! You've got to intentionally look at the bright side and choose to count your blessings instead!
"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." v. 26
When I am struggling, there are certain people I call for encouragement, my sweet Mama is one. She always seems to know what I need to hear to pick me up and set me on the right path. She says the right thing at the right time. I am so thankful for her and others in my life that do the same thing!
I hope to be that same type of encourager to others around me. I hope to be a source of wisdom and strength for my husband, my kids, or anyone else around me who might need encouragement. I hope to be a wise and loving counselor and have joy that radiates to others. But again, that all starts with where my heart is and what I am feeding into it. I try to listen to less of what the world says and more of what God says. Let us all look around us to those that need it and try to be an encourager during this time.
"She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar." v. 14
Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do during this time. You may have to bring your food from afar! It's crazy out there when you go shopping! You have to stand in line to get toilet paper, if you can get it at all!
I have to tell you of a secret fear I've been battling for years. Years ago, I had to pick up one of my older kids from a friend's house where she had slept over. My young daughter with special needs, Elizabeth, who was about 3 at the time, had to use the bathroom. So I took her in to my daughter's friend's house and thankfully she made it! But when she was done I discovered there was no toilet paper in the bathroom, so I asked for some from another bathroom only to discover there was none in the entire house! Also there were no kleenex or napkins! I was horrified! Thankfully I still carried wipes in my car. But that set off a fear in me to never run out of toilet paper! It is some weird irrational fear! My family laughs at me, but I always keep at least 2 large packs in the house at all times! But who is laughing now? :)
A wise manager is prepared, but you can't foresee everything. Who knew all these empty shelves would be happening? You try your best and you get creative. We are still blessed to have so many options and online stores available to us. If we have to do without for a little while that's ok. We can trust God to provide for our needs. (But please God don't let us run out toilet paper! Ha!) I think back to the stories I've read about people who have lived through wars and their country being occupied by others. How they had to live on rations and do without meat for months and make a tea bag stretch until all it made was light brown water. It's amazing what people can live through and still have joy. Sometimes we need to keep things in perspective!
"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." v. 20
It's easy to pull inward when things get tough. Not only are people getting sick, but many people are out of work, stress is super high, and there is great need out there. It's easy to put a bubble around yourself and your family and try to just protect yourselves. But what this world really needs is to see some kindness and love. Even if it's just some extra patience at the store and some kind words, it matters.
"Let us not just look to our own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4) I don't need to preach to you about how to be a good person. We all have our own strengths, weaknesses, gifts, abilities, time, and assets. We can't do everything but we can do something. (Trust me, I'm speaking to myself here.) For example, we are blessed that my husband still has a job, his job is considered essential. One practice that we have done (and are able to continue to do through this time) is that we set aside a certain amount of money every month to simply give to someone (or more than one). We pray about it and then look for someone who seems like they could use some help or encouragement. It may not even be someone who needs money, but someone who just needs some love. Sometimes it's someone in line in front of me or behind me at the store, and I ask them if I could help with their purchase. Sometimes it's a specific person and we write them a card and give it to them anonymously. Sometimes we donate it to a cause. The point is, we do something to help others believe there is still good in the world and to point them towards God. This has also taught us to look to the needs of others, to fight against the tide of selfishness, and that giving is fun! We can only keep what we give away. There are so many opportunities out there to invest in the lives of others for God's glory. Let us try to live a life as fully and beautifully as we can.
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." v. 27
It's amazing what you can do when you have to. The other day I woke up with a horrible migraine. It felt like a knife was being gouged into my eye. Usually after medicine and a cold washrag I can get them to go away, but this one didn't. It stuck around most of the day. Thankfully, my oldest daughter was here to help with the younger kids. But my six year old son, who is adopted, has been struggling lately and he doesn't like to listen to his older sister when Mom is not around. Whenever there is stress in the house he always picks up on it and acts out because of it. It is understandable, but makes things hard a lot of times. Then my daughter with special needs had a seizure. Then about two hours later she had another one. Then another two hours after that, another one, which is super unusual for her. I was starting to worry and wonder if parents are allowed to stay with their children in the hospital with all coronavirus stuff going on? I knew I would have to be arrested because I wouldn't leave her. Add that to the stress of being quarantined for the last few weeks and wondering everyday if my husband will have a job and my secret fear about toilet paper and it was a tough day. I know many of you are having tough days too.
But someone needs to be there. Someone needs to be there for our families paying attention to what is happening. Someone needs to be there to comfort a little boy is who afraid and shows it by acting out. Someone needs to be there to watch over and protect a little girl that doesn't understand what happens to her body when she has a seizure, she only knows she needs help. Someone needs to be there for a husband that is carrying extra stress because the work environment is really hard. Someone needs to be there for a daughter whose life is put on hold right now because of this virus and she is stuck at home helping her Mom with a bunch of craziness. For my family, that someone is me.
Knowing my purpose pushes me through the pain. Life is not about me all the time. Part of my job as a wife and a mama is to pay attention to the hearts of my family and be there for them when I can be. I gladly lay down my life for theirs. It doesn't mean I ignore my needs. I make sure I have plenty of rest time and do things that refresh and restore me so I can keep going. But during these times of extra stress, I want to be there. To be fully present for those who need me. To help make home sweeter!
As I look back on my life, I actually appreciate the hard times I went through. Those are the times I felt closest to God. There were treasures I learned there, treasures in the darkness, that I will never lose. The bad days really make made me appreciate the good days and also just the normal regular days too. Each one feels like a gift! And so I want to encourage you today, wherever you are, through this new and crazy season, to grab hold of the good and not be overwhelmed by the fear and the stress. And to trust God. He will carry you through if you allow Him to! This is one season in our lives and this too shall pass...