Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Want To

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12

Struggles increased significantly for me recently as summer began. Everyone around me eagerly anticipated vacations, days at the pool, and family rich moments to fill the long summer days. But for me summer meant unavailable friends, lonely days, and facing family moments without my boys.

I centered my thoughts on Peter and Andrew’s joy. But that just made me homesick. I hated being left behind. I also hurt over the struggles that filled so many friends’ lives. I just wanted Christ to return and end this wretched place of suffering and pain and reunite me with those I loved.

As I struggled, I let my schedule stay empty instead of structuring my days with worthwhile pursuits. I started snacking a little more, adding a few desserts, sometimes enjoying a glass of wine. I soon forgot my vitamins. My workouts decreased in intensity and then frequency. I wasted time on the computer hoping someone would check in. I slept longer and dozed more often. And as necessary events took me out of town or filled my weekends, I missed church for a half dozen weeks.

I stayed in the word and continued with our weekly bible study group. I pressed into worship and music to keep my days enriched with the truth of the Word. I didn’t run away. But I didn’t press in. And I didn’t move forward.
Instead, I stood still. I sat right where I was, fighting against my past and resisting my future.

Finally the unrest bothered me. Listless and weepy, my joy was gone.

The miserable funk clung to me for days until finally today I took it to God as I headed to a friend’s house. God knew I was off. I needed him to show me why. As I processed through my grumbles with him, I asked for clarity. What was really going on?

You’re discontent, he answered in truth. Discontentment ruled my thoughts and actions. I knew Peter and Andrew lived healed and whole and rejoiced in that. But I resented being left behind. Facing the daily pain of having to live without them left me weary. I resented having to still be here in this messed up place surrounded by messed up people who refused to let God change them. I resented facing struggle, pain, hardship, and suffering in so many people’s lives. I wanted to go home too. I was tired of being strong. I was tired of being disciplined, the only way I could maintain sanity and survive.

As I admitted my discontentment, I remembered Paul’s words in Philippians about being content in all things. A devotion I’d read recently came to mind. It pointed out that Paul’s contentment in verse 11 came from his discipline in verse 8 to control his thoughts. As he determined to center his thoughts on the positive and be thankful (vs. 4-8), he could maintain contentment no matter what he faced.

You are focusing on your loss and what you don’t have instead of all that you do, God challenged. Thankfulness breaks discontentment.

I recognized the truth. I’d been here before. But then God continued the challenge.

Do you want to get well?

I recognized the passage. Jesus had often questioned people before he healed them to see the extent of their faith and their desires.

But as I thought of how that question applied to me, I had to admit my answer was no. No, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to do the work to pull myself out of the funk. It was easier to wallow and easier to be lazy. I didn’t want to do all of those things I knew I needed to do to handle my life. I didn’t want to get sweaty and exercise. I didn’t want to be organized and plan my meals and grocery trips in advance so I could eat healthy. I didn’t want to resist the indulgences of sweets, wine, and unscheduled time. I wanted to be lazy and I wanted to be miserable. Didn’t my life justify my choices?

But did it? the Holy Spirit gently countered. Did my choices really help my state or just add to my weariness? Did any of those choices really make me feel better? Did they represent the person I wanted to be? Did they honor the lives of my boys or the reality and worth of my God?

I bowed my head and asked God’s forgiveness.

I don’t want to shame my boys. I don’t want to shame you, God.

But just admitting my status didn’t change my reality. I had to do more. So I asked a friend to pray. And she did. She asked God to fix my want to.

It’s been a slow uphill climb back to who I want to be. But I’m moving. I’m no longer standing still.

It started with one small choice. Just one. I went for a run.

Then I made one more. I got one chore done.

Then one more.

And one more choice.

One at a time, I continued to choose. And with each choice, I felt my want to change, and my willingness return.

Friend, if you’re like me, and you’ve walked with God for a while, you usually know the answer to the struggle you face. Often the only thing standing between you and your answer is your want to. And then we must choose. Will WE be faithful to our faithful God? Will we accept his call and the gifts it brings? Will we move forward in obedience one choice at a time?

Today I swapped my discontentment with gratitude. I stopped trying to carry the world, and focused instead on myself which I can control, one choice at a time. I chose to trust God’s timing and plan, knowing his purposes far exceed mine in amazingly beautiful ways. Today I surrendered my pride and accepted God’s grace. I swapped my self-focus for God’s glory. Today I chose to move.

Father, we all face struggles that sometime overwhelm us. When we do, help us to respond like David and turn to you in repentence. When we know we should obey but still lack the desire to change, enable us to at least come to you and ask you for that willing spirit, that you would fix our want to. In our weariness of the battle, soften our heart and draw us to yourself. Help us to take that next step, to make that choice, to refuse to stand still but move forward in obedience just one step at a time. Thank you for loving us through our struggles until we reach victory on the other side. Thank you for the strength to obey and to act. And thank you for fixing my want to. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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