Trouble sleeping? I know the feeling. My 3:00 am brain clutter is beginning to overwhelm me. I toss and turn, thinking of one scenario after another. I Borrow the possibility of trouble from tomorrow to haunt the reality of today. This is not a good bedtime practice!
Is it the upcoming holidays that have you keyed up? It's not so much the holidays for me. It's more about the participants. My son, who has a heroin addiction, and everyone else who must accommodate him, keeps me up at night. Lying in bed, I feel my husband reach out to ask what's wrong. I whisper his name in a sigh. My husband gives me a reassuring hug, knowing this is the sort of thing that can either turn me toward turmoil or take me to my knees.
It's been about eight years of apprehension, stress, anxiety, and anger centered around my son.
Please don't misunderstand. I love him. He has always been welcome for the holidays, no matter where we celebrate. I am thankful we have made it work all these years. The problem is, I never know what mask I'm going to see show up at my door. Humble and quiet, agitated and secretive, isolating and suspicious? Will an unexpected drama unfold? All I know is, I will sit on pins and needles at all the possibilities. While some of the family will welcome my son with open arms, others will eye him with suspicion. I can't blame them. I've done that myself. The stress of having him present can overwhelm me, and the guilt for not having him overcomes me.
The other side of the coin, and the likelihood this year is that he will not show up. This is a different kind of guilt. I have a hard time dealing with his vacillating behavior on the one hand. Still, I can't bear to picture him alone for the holidays, on the other hand. Do you have a similar dilemma?
These are some of the thoughts on my mind at 3:00 am. My mind scans holidays from the past, with varying scenarios, and I wonder what this year will look like. I can't go back to sleep. I'm weary of these holidays and what they bring.
So, I pray… The Lord speaks.
"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
I confess, there are brief moments in my life when I toss an off-putting eye roll heavenward. Thankfully, my response is fleeting as I sit in this verse and soak it into my soul. It's something I know I need to hear, and perhaps you do too.
I like The Message version of this verse because it spells it out:
“No. Matter. What.”
I think it's interesting that the passage isn't just a suggestion but a command from the Lord. Why I wonder, would He insist that we be cheerful, prayerful, and thankful all the time...even in the tough stuff?
I think He knows our nature pretty well, that's why.
This directive was initially given by Paul to some early Christians. They suffered persecution and were often ostracized in their culture and denied certain rights for their faith. Paul wanted the early Christians to choose to celebrate Jesus over celebrating the world.
The world can be disappointing. Broken promises, unkind words, thoughtless actions, and canceled plans. We've all witnessed uncertainty in the year 2020 to some degree. When I hang all my expectations on my wayward son to make or break a celebration, my focus is misplaced. I set him up for failure, borrow trouble, and make myself a wreck.
The Lord knows we can get stuck in the muck of our circumstances. That is our human nature. He is firm in telling us how we are to rise above because He cares for us.
So how do I follow God's direction?
Always be cheerful.
How do I display a manner of cheerfulness when a guest at my table is erratic, secretive, or isolated? How can I celebrate if my loved one refuses to show up? Thanksgiving is not about a person at your table. It's about Christ with us - Immanuel. He is the centerpiece. When your eyes are focused only on Him and His love, you won't fall into the net of someone else's drama. You might just be surprised to see that by remaining in His love and compassion, it overflows into your surroundings! Celebrate the small stuff; the compassionate gesture of a hug, a loving glance, a welcoming smile—the kindness of others who are accepting and present.
Pray all the time!
Before guests arrive, while they are there, when you feel tempted to respond to unattractive behavior, or when you want to weep over the empty chair. Pray when they leave...for everyone.
All. The. Time.
"No matter what happens!" This is a tough one. It takes practice. It requires that last step we talked about...praying all the time. It insists that we humble ourselves.
Be thankful your prodigal is alive, even if not well.
Be thankful they are receiving warmth, love, and a home-cooked meal.
Be thankful that God is with them if they can't be with you. Because...
"He will not leave them." (Deut. 31:6)
Be Cheerful, pray, and thank God. "This is the way God wants you to live!" This is a lifeline when I don't think I have what it takes to deal with my son in those 3:00 am dark hours.
This year, it looks like we won't be seeing my son. I know God has His own plans for him on this day and every day, so I will celebrate that. I pray for him when I rise, and when I lay my head down at night, and I have faith that God will handle the rest.
And... I’m thankful. Yes, I am thankful that the Lord entrusted my son to me so that I can pray for him. I am grateful for the blanket of warm memories I have of my son before his addiction. They sustain me. I am indebted to a God so powerful and mighty that the healing He has in store for my son is more significant than anything I can offer him.
I'm thankful on this Thanksgiving holiday that I've found peace in Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
No. Matter. What.
Catherine resides, with her husband, Ian, in the small mining town of Globe, Arizona. The tug on her heart is to share with others how she overcame her greatest battles in life by groaning with the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to lead her to find a life with peace and joy! She seeks to honor God by providing encouragement, support, and hope for women struggling with their own life altering struggles.
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