I’ve been back and forth on whether I should write this post or not. I don’t like to write “downer” posts but have really been feeling maybe someone else needs to hear this. If for nothing else, to realize they are not alone.
Sit back, grab a cup of coffee and relax as this could get a little long.
Let me preface it with this statement…in NO WAY is this meant to be a “please feel sorry for me” post. It’s a post about a spiritual journey I’ve been on these last few months.
It started last fall when I could feel some major burnout creeping in. It seemed there was always something I HAD to do. Everyone wanted a piece of my time and me being a giver, gave, gave and gave some more (of my time, that is). In the end, I didn’t own any of my own time.
Activities I enjoyed doing were put very much on the back burner. I could feel myself starting down a slippery slope of not finding much joy in life which is unlike my typical self. I am mostly a glass half full person. It was even hard to find joy in this winters New Orleans mission trip. It had turned into one more thing on the to-do list. Again, very much unlike me.
Adding to that overwhelmed feeling, in the last six months…
a good friend had surgery for recurrent breast cancer,
a DIL’s father passed away,
another friend was diagnosed with leukemia,
another DIL lost two grandmothers inside of three months,
my sister had surgery for recurrent breast cancer after ten years of remission,
a SIL has undetermined thyroid nodules and
just last Friday morning, we attended the funeral of another friend (49 yrs. old) who was diagnosed just under three weeks ago with Stage IV uterine and lung cancer.
I could feel myself getting more and more down. Add to that an incredibly gloomy, snowy winter and then top it off with being menopausal. Yup, emotions & hot flashes have been running rampant. Life in general was overwhelming me.
We rarely miss church but two weeks ago I really, really didn’t want to go. I had to convince myself I should. So off we went, albeit grudgingly for me. Why is it when we go with an attitude of defiance is when we really need to hear what's going to be said the most? Could it be Satan trying to keep us away? Duh, Lori, ya think so?? Sometimes I’m a slow learner.
The message that particular Sunday was on being enlightened and centered around Paul and what and how he prayed when he was imprisoned. He was in a dire situation but he continued to be optimistic and prayed thanksgiving and encouragement over his people.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
When Paul was imprisoned as he looked up at night, he could more than likely see stars through the bars in the window to his cell. Paul chose to see the stars instead of the bars between him and the stars. He was thankful in his situation and even prayed for others and gave thanks for them.
I was incredibly convicted about how I had been looking at the bars and not the stars these last few months. The mountain of bad things happening either to myself or those I care about that I had been seeing is barely a mole hill for our God. So why was I taking on the burden of all these things instead of handing those cares over to Him, our Heavenly Father who is willing to take on all of those worries for me? I was limiting myself in living because of my limited view of life. I need to live in light of my calling not entwined in my circumstances.
The message was definitely the “God whack” I needed or maybe a proverbial kick in the pants. During the response time part of our service and after prayer, I instantly felt a new sense of peace and hope that I’d sorely been missing these last few months.
This past Easter weekend our church did spontaneous baptisms during our Easter services. Our church is a multi-site church and at our campus alone almost 100 people were baptized during the five services that were held. I organize the volunteers to help with the baptism so I was present for all five services and felt to see all of those people publicly make a statement of faith as they entered the waters of baptism. That was exactly the positive, uplifting shot in the arm that my tired soul longed for.
I accepted Christ as my savior at a youth retreat when I was 16 and was “sprinkle” believer baptized in a very formal ceremony in the country church I grew up in. This church was nice church but never really “me.” Clapping was not allowed and you absolutely never raised your hands in praise. It was a very old school church. Our current church is most definitely not old school.
The church we are at now is a Bible believing, life applicable, hand raising, clapping, contemporary worship type church which practices total immersion baptism. There is something so significant to me about the old person going down in the water and a new person coming up from it than what I experienced being sprinkled.
As I said, I was believer baptized at 16 but it was not a joyful occasion for me. I remember being scared to death to be up in front of church with all of these extremely formal people watching me. I was petrified I would say or do something wrong.
I had been thinking about being re-baptized for awhile and this weekend seemed like the right time for me. What better day to be baptized and receive the peace of a life living for Christ than Easter Sunday.
Baptism is making a public profession of our faith. When I did it in our old church I never felt joy in it. I had never publicly professed my faith at this church we’ve attended for the last ten years now. I felt an urgent need to profess my faith in front of this church family. I can’t express the feeling of joy I had stepping in to the pool with my husband and two wonderful friends by my side(thanks Dana & KD for getting wet with us!), Pastor Glen praying over me and my husband and friends baptizing me. What a joyous time! Definitely worth a war hoop and a hand-raise!
I’m still surrounded by “life problems.” They didn’t go away but God gave me my groove back ;) as I finally released everything to Him. I know He can handle all of these things way better than I can begin to(again, I'm a slow learner) as long as I continue to turn these burdens over to Him. I'm a work in progress and need to continue to release that control and resist the urge to handle it on my own. I'm definitely a work in progress!
Thanks for listening.