November 15, 2016

Thankful Tuesday

It is Tuesday, and I am at home resting. Oh my goodness! The week has just started, and I am already feeling the pinch of weariness. Yesterday was a real bear, and I mean it as so. I had a good day at school, but when I came home from class, I just crashed. I made myself some dinner, just reheated leftovers, and then retired to the bedroom to check emails and student accounts. After I felt certain that everything was in order, I laid on the bed and watched "Poldark," Series 2, Episode 7, which had aired the previous night. This season, in particular, is especially good. After I watched the new episode, I was so sleepy that I closed my eyes, never thinking I would sleep until 10. I woke up to the sounds of my Dad yelling at Winston (the cat) to get out of the room. I got up, took care of the cats, and then got ready for bed. I slept until 8 a.m. this morning, and frankly, I slept like a rock. The good news is that I feel really rested. I actually feel good today, so that is a blessing. In all, I am glad this is my day off because it means I can rest all day, without feeling guilty, about my to-do list this week.

In other good news, it appears that our weather is beginning to look like it should, like fall, I mean. Today is a warm day, forecast to the mid-80s, but all through next week, the weather channel has said it will be in the low to mid 70s. This is such good news! I mean, really, really good news. I am thankful for the cooler temps, and for the fact that I can start to wear my sweaters (finally!) I love fall, and fall in Arizona is short-lived. It is a very short season, typically just November-December. Winter is not heard of here, other than we like to say we experience some winter weather right about Christmastime and into the first part of the new year. Then it is spring and summer -- oh that long, hot summer -- for the rest of the year. I am enjoying the cooler temps for certain, and I am thankful for the brief change of seasons. Yay!

My good friend and I were texting this morning, and he said that he thinks we are both super stressed, which is why we are finding that we crash every night after work. I agree with his assessment, and in thinking about it today, I realized that I am suffering from physical stress more so than emotional or even mental stress. I was telling him that despite feeling so tired, I am not panicked or riddled with anxiety. In fact, I would say that I have this peaceful and calm sense about me. I mean, I don't feel worried. I was overwhelmed a couple weeks ago. My workload was way too heavy for me, and I felt like I was sinking under the weight of the classes I am teaching. Then, I released my work to the Lord, and He set me free. This was just last week. I knew I had been holding onto things that were not mine, but in my deep need to control outcomes and to stem off hurts and suffering, I simply took them and then tried to make sense of them. Of course, since the Lord had not given these things to me in this way, no matter what I attempted to do, I fell short of actually accomplishing anything good. The truth is that I suffered under the weight of these things -- emotionally, mentally, and yes, physically. Now, though, I have let them go. I have not ignored them or distanced myself from them, but rather, I simply let them loose, and in doing so, I rested. I let the Lord take them, as was He intent, and in this way, my burden became much lighter. I am still weighed down, for certain. The Lord has not removed everything from my shoulder at this time, but He has helped me by reducing the load, and in this way, I am better able to handle what remains on my plate. He is good this way. He is so very good to me.

Thinking More About My Life

This is a good day, therefore, to rest, to reflect, and to recognize the truth that exists all around me. Often, we shun the truth. We hide from it, for fear that what is revealed will be unpleasant or emotionally upsetting. Yet, the truth is often our friend. If we allow the truth to sink in, we can come to a place whereby we are able to deal with difficult issues and where we can make good decisions about next steps and the like. Lately, I have realized that in many ways, I am a truth-seeker who often hides until the last possible moment before I allow the truth to bring light and warmth and goodness. I hate that I do that, but most of the time, it is not out of fear for what may come, but rather it is to avoid extra pain. I control my pain as best I can, so to avoid adding pain, well it has become my modus operandi, so to speak. Lately, however, I have to see that by holding back the truth, not letting it come to light, I end up suffering longer than necessary. So today, I have decided to accept the truth, to let it all wash over me so that the healing can begin. I am ready to be healed, like completely healed, and in order to do that, I can hide no more in the shadows. I must walk free in the light and in the glory of my risen and exalted Savior's warmth and goodness.

Understanding My Limitations

The first bit of truth to let shine free is the fact that rarely do I know my limits. I often exceed the limits of time, ability, and even desire simply because I have this "can do" attitude and a willing spirit. Yes, I am your 'go to' person whenever a solution is needed. The problem with my can-do attitude and my willingness to do hard work is simply that I end up doing far too much work than needed. I over rationalize, analyze, justify, and at times, over do everything. Thus, my first "must" for this day is to accept the fact that I am limited, and that I have limited resources and abilities, and therefore, I must come to know my boundaries. What I can do, and what I must do are too very different things. I can do many things, but am I to do them all? No, never. I must know when to say "it is enough," and when to say, "I am done."

Second, I must not confuse the will of the Lord with the will of the people, as in all people, any set of people, or even people in my own life. I must remember that it is His will be done well before it is my will or the will of others. I must always place His desires for my life, including the boundaries He sets for me ahead of any other demands on my time. In this way, I will find my rest. I will know His will when I lay down at night and when I rise in the morning (Deut. 6:7). His will brings me peace and it gives me rest from all the worries, the fears, the doubts, and the uncertainty in this world. He is my keeper, my friend, and the One who shelters me. Thus, I must always place His desires first in every area of my life.

Third, and this is a difficult one, but I must remember my end. I must remember that my days are numbered, and as such, the Lord has appointed my beginning and my end. I don't fret over the end because I know that as flesh, I will perish some day. However, until that day arrives, He has appointed me to do good work, good works, I should say. Again, it is vital that I understand that the good work I do is always bound in His will for my life. I am to do His work only.

Last, as I process this truth, I realize that while I am in agreement with it, I often push the boundaries, and tempt the Lord by simply trying to get more of my way. Yes, I am a child in this regard. I do what children do with their parents, even their loving and gracious parents -- they tempt fate and they try to get their own way. I do this, I admit it. I will often try the Lord's patience simply by asking Him why all the time. Why this? Why that? And even when I know the answer, I will still try to get Him to come my way, to side with me. I have learned that this will never get me what I want. No, I must accept what He has offered. Take it or leave it, as they say, and then stop testing my boundaries. I must accept that my boundary, my cage (so to speak), is there for my good. Just like a good shepherd corrals his animals at night to protect them from harm, the Lord has placed fences about me, to rein me in and to keep me safe. I must accept that these are my boundaries and that they are for my betterment, my welfare, and my good.

Boundaries and Such

I believe that the Lord has placed barriers about me to keep me safe. Of these barriers, many are for my protection but also for my provision. One barrier is the fact that at present I only work part-time while I am completing my dissertation. I am not a full-time employee, though at times I do work like one. I am part-time. This means that I have great freedom to come and go as I please. I can choose the work and I can choose how much and when I will work.

Another boundary placed about me is where I live at present. Though my heart longs to move elsewhere, away from Phoenix, and to a more moderate and temperate climate, I am where I am for a reason. Until the Lord moves me, and He will move me soon, I am to rest in this matter. It is up to Him and it is part of His will for me. I need to move soon, but where I will go is in His hand, in His keeping. He is good to me, and I trust Him. I need to stop straining to figure this out, and simply accept the fact that this is His timing and it will come to pass just as He desires it to be.

My life is simple. It is straightforward. He has given me a good practical job to do, and I love doing it. He has provided education for me, and I love my program and my degree. He has opened doors at good schools, and I love teaching at these schools. He has provided enough income to satisfy my needs, and He has made sure I have not defaulted on my bills throughout the course of the past three years. I am secure. I am safe. He has provided a good life, a good future, and a way that will provide for my retirement. He has done this all, and He has given me rest in this way. Yes, I am stressed now, but I know that in less than four weeks time, I will have three weeks off. Then in just four more months, I will have my summer free again. He knows I need these big pockets of rest, and therefore, He has created a way so that I can have them. He is so good to me.

Limitations and Boundaries

Why has He done this for my life? Is it to punish me, to hurt me, to show me His power? In truth, the answer is simply love. He has done these things to show me how much He cares for me, He loves me, and He desires to protect me. He has not set me up for failure or to hurt me; rather He has simply designed a life that factors in my limitations and then He has set boundaries around me so that I can feel secure in His provision.

I am content in His plan. I am content in His provision. I am content in what He has provided, but I often complain about the restriction, the fact that I cannot go now or do what it is that I want to do. In many ways, that childlike behavior and attitude that says "Why, Daddy? Why can't I have my way?" causes me to stumble. I get frustrated when He says to me, "Be patient, my child. Rest a while, wait for it." I am eager, and yes, I long to please Him. Still, I get restless even though I know I must sleep. Think of it this way -- how a little child will often push off sleep in order to continue playing. Mom and Dad know their little one needs rest, and they settle him down, lull him to sleep. It is best for him to sleep, yet the child says "no!" Eventually, the child will succumb to rest, not of his own will, but because he has exhausted himself. The parent wants his child to sleep of his own accord, to lay down and rest when it is time to rest. In this way, the child will become accustomed to periods of work and of rest, and his body will naturally acclimate to a schedule that is good for his overall health and development. He will grow up strong, healthy, and with the ability to regulate his own time. God is this way with us as well. He knows we need to rest. He knows we must work. He wants us to understand our boundaries and our limits so that we can learn how to moderate, to manage, and to master our days. This is His good will for us. It will help us keep from living in stress overload, and it will provide periods where we can simply divest ourselves of all the hustle and bustle and enjoy the sweet peace He longs for us to experience.

In Closing

I have come to this place through exhaustion and deep fatigued. I am ready now to experience all the good the Lord has for me, and I am ready to sleep peacefully, to work and to live in His peaceful blessedness. As I consider these truths, I realize how I have pushed my limits with teaching. I have pushed my limits by taking on more work than I can handle. The Lord allowed it, of course, but only to show me my limits. I said not long ago that I could handle working multiple contracts and teaching at multiple schools. I learned quickly that the lure of easy money was not worth the pain I have encountered. I have learned this lesson the hard way, and now that I am almost finished with this very difficult semester, I see how much I long for one job only, for one school to hire me.

I also see that my studies at Regent, which have formed the foundation for most of my joy the past three years, have been significant to me. I have loved this journey more than I could express, and I am at this place now where part of me is pleased to see it end, while another part, is sad at its passing. The Lord has richly blessed me with friendships and colleagues, and through it all, I have come to this wonderful place in my life -- I have found myself, my passion, and my purpose -- through my time at Regent University.

My life can be summed up simply as one of walking with the Lord, learning from Him, and through various encounters and experiences in the world, I have come to depend upon Him, need Him, and seek Him. I have made Him my entire life, and He has returned my devotion with blessing, favor and goodness. Now, I am about ready to take some new steps, to move into a new place, and to begin a new way of life. I am eager, excited, and filled with such joy over the experience to come. I know what He has begun, He will complete. I know that He is faithful and good, and that I can trust Him implicitly for my daily needs. He has me so well-covered, and I am in this wonderful, good, and blessed place because of His mercy, His goodness, and His great love for me. He is good. He is so very good to me! Selah!

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