Saturday, July 27, 2013

Happy are...really?

 Whirl, whirl, whirl and twirl. Halfway through summer, and I realized it's been just as crazy as the last two- stuffed to the brim; full of mixed up emotions, laughter, tears, sunshine and flowers. I can't imagine how we are already at August and I am just now getting warm after last winter.

I have really felt mopey and wanting to be miserable the last couple months, but I know I shouldn't. So I try to distract myself with:


Or this:

Sometimes this:

This helped a bit:

And I can always count on this to make me smile when I don't want to:

But in reality, going through the motions of life while your heart is far from it doesn't really count.
We have always had a motto at our house- "Fake it 'til you feel it". That might sound crass to some, but it's always worked to help adults and kids check our attitudes at the door and live with grace and love for one another. Don't want to do the dishes, "Fake it 'til you feel it". Don't want to share that toy, "Fake it 'til you feel it". Don't want to obey, to listen, to work, to forgive, to try- "Fake it 'til you feel it". And what is so cool- it always worked. Until this summer, when my feelings just won't behave. They won't be happy that my son is graduated and I am no longer responsible for him. They won't be satisfied with the fact that my daughter is moving into an apartment with her husband and raising her daughter instead of racing her horse through the raspberry fields and staying up all night giggling with her girlfriends. My emotions won't be content with what we have, what is and what is coming. My feelings just won't behave.

Then I realized I had taken the most important part of the equation out. We can "Fake it 'til you feel it" all day long, but the real thing that transformed my sassy toddler into an obedient child, or the lazy 10 year old who didn't want to mow the lawn into a wonderful helper- wasn't the act of faking it. It was the transforming work God did in their hearts as they worked to obey Him. All those passages they memorized in school: "Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right...Bear one another's burdens...Forgive one another...He who does not work, does not eat...May your attitude be that of Christ Jesus, a servant..." The list went on and on. As we went through the motions of obedience, we allowed God to work in our spirits to change us, to help us DESIRE His goodness and holiness.
I really haven't wanted to be changed. I kind of liked feeling depressed and moping around the garden. Buying things I didn't need, being rude when I could bite my tongue instead. I wanted to MOURN and GRIEVE and wallow in all that is miserable and ugly.
I know. What a freak.
This last year has been so busy just LIVING. Trying to keep my head above water and hoping to survive, I don't think I let myself process the losses and the goodbyes that happened. Far sooner then I was ready but just when they should have.

So as I dug in my heels, folded my arms and pouted- God kept pushing me to listen, learn, and SHAPE UP.

OF COURSE He would start a sermon series at church with the Beatitudes.

OF COURSE He would have my devotional make me read James and Matthew.

OF COURSE He would send in my dearest friend to pray for me and encourage me when she didn't even know I needed it.

And OF COURSE He would fill my life with the people I love the best, all trying so hard while I refused to comply.
Steve telling me jokes and making me laugh, drowning me in baseball games and loving me so patiently. Always so patiently.
Jordan working hard and taking care of himself in ways that make me see a young man, not a boy who needs a mother.
Spencer committing to his beautiful wife and daughter anew, and taking the high road even when it's the harder one.
Jasmine constantly loving and forgiving and working and teaching....always taking my breath away with the beautiful way she does life.

Drat. How can I hope to stay depressed when there is so much to be happy about? I suppose when we change our focus, it makes room for our feelings to follow suit.

Read with me these again- we have all heard them, but they have meant so much to me the last two weeks. I won't try to ignore them anymore.

Let's change the first word, "Blessed", to what the original language meant. I don't know if when I think of the word "blessed" I translate it "happy", but that is exactly the meaning Jesus and His hearers would have understood.

"Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain and sat down, and His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying:

HAPPY are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
HAPPY are those who MOURN, for they will be COMFORTED.
HAPPY are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
HAPPY are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
HAPPY are those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
HAPPY are the pure in heart, for they will see GOD.
HAPPY are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
HAPPY are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
(Matthew 5:1-10)

Be encouraged today, friend. He isn't done with us yet. And if Jesus could tell us to be HAPPY in THOSE circumstances, the issues we face today aren't outside His reach. My attitude needed a serious adjustment, and I'm glad to say...I'm finally feeling it. ;)