Once upon a time, there was a queen that lived in a castle with her husband the King and her beautiful children the little princesses and princes. They all adored the Queen. When the Queen cooked pot roast they all raved about how wonderful it tasted. When the Queen did the laundry they all happily put theirs away and thanked her profusely for washing the dirty clothes. When the Queen asked them to pick up their belongings, they immediately jumped up from their Nintendo DS or Wii games and made the room sparkle. The Queen worked very hard each day but she didn't mind because all the hard work was rewarded with gratitude. She loved seeing her family happy and well taken care of! And not only that, she had plenty of time after her work was done for blogging, jogging and all her various other interests and hobbies. She and the King made sure to have weekly date nights where they were always reminded how lucky they were to have each other as partners. Her life was blessed and happy and fulfilling.
Don't we all wish.
I think most of us have at some point in life have fantasized about how life would be or (more dangerously) should be. As any grown up can tell you, life ain't no fairytale. So let's talk about this...
I think most women are vulnerable to this sinking feeling that life ain't all it's cracked up to be. I've been reminded this week about how stinking hard life can be sometimes. We got news that a couple that we know are divorcing. I got a facebook message from a sweet, new Mommy friend asking if I had any advice because whenever she lays her baby down, the baby wakes up, leaving someone having to hold this precious bundle of joy constantly through the night. She and her hubby are exhausted.
Life is hard. (I love it when people state the obvious.)
I have struggled this week, too. Not with big stuff, but I think that we can become discontent in the little stuff. With six people in my family, if I don't do at least 2 loads of laundry a day, I get behind. It quickly piles up and it literally takes DAYS of constant laundry to get it all done. Oh and by the way, IT IS NEVER DONE. While you are finishing that "last" load, you and everyone else in your family are wearing clothes that will need to be washed. When it comes to dishes, it is the same story, second verse. Throw in all the other tasks that it takes to run a household and let's face it...it is hard to do. Even harder to do JOYFULLY.
I don't know about you, but for me that is a recipe for disappointment with myself and my job. Now, add to that the pressure that many of us perceive from outside sources to look a certain way, to always be kind (even when you feel like popping a cork on that rude lady at the Y), to be a "good" Christian, to raise well rounded children, to participate in the PTA, to be a girl scout leader or coach soccer, etc., etc., etc. We all have our lists.
Where does that leave us? Wasn't this what we all dreamed of as little kids? Ummm. No.
I've been doing a Bible study called Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild, with a group of girls from church. This last week, we talked about guarding the door to our "thought closet." As I've been processing this stuff I'm learning, I've thought about this, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Which means when an idea knocks on the door of your thought closet, you need to decide whether that thought is of Christ or not. We are to judge those ideas by Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
If a thought or idea is not one of those things, we are to make it obedient to Christ. Get rid of it. Replace it with truth. Let me give you an example...
This week Satan (dressed in an outfit of empathy and understanding) came knocking on the door of my thought closet and said, "DW, Doc should know by now that you have a reason to do things the way that you do. He has questioned the way that you have done things several times this week. He must not trust that you are capable. He doesn't think you are trustworthy. He has no idea what you do for him and your family." Hmmm. I thought, as I considered opening the door to this idea, maybe that's right, let me hear more..."Well," said Satan, "you know all that you have done this week, all the balls you have juggled and kept in the air. All the things that you HAVE done well. He doesn't appreciate all those things....he just sees the one thing you didn't do well. That isn't very supportive. How would he like it if his boss came in everyday and picked out his failings and pointed them out to him. He wouldn't like it either. Why does he do that me?" (Notice that things change from "you" to "me" here. As I started opening the door and thinking of letting those things into my thought closet and keeping them as my own.) "Well", I said to the thought, "you sound reasonable to me. Hold on, let me see if you are my size. Let me ask you a few questions...
"Are you true?" I asked. "Don't I sound true?" said the thought.
"Are you noble?" I asked. "Well, noble? hmm. I don't know."
"Are you right?" I asked. "You seem to think so." replied the thought.
"Are you pure?" I asked. "Umm."
"Are you lovely?" I asked. "Well..."
I could see at this point that this idea, though appealing was not going to be able to pass the test.... it was not admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. It did not bring me closer to Christ or my husband. It was NOT truth, though I could have let it in and hung it up and kept it for my own. It was my job to take that thought captive and throw it out because it was not obedient to Christ.
All too often we accept these thoughts. You have them. I have them. They knock on the door of our thought closets and if we let them in, they become bitter roots embedded into our hearts. They grow into weeds of discontentment and dissatisfaction, unhappiness and bitterness. Think about that for a second. Have you ever gardened? Isn't it much easier to PREVENT the weeds than to pull out those deep roots of established plants?
This takes work, friends. Lots of purposeful thinking. But you know what? It is the good kind of work that yields benefits to you and those around you. And let's face it, we all think everyday. What are you going to think about? As Grammy used to always tell me when I was a kid, "Trash in, trash out." Meditate on truth, on things that fit with that list from Philippians 4:8. I promise you that it will become easier, the more you practice. And know that when a lie does make it through, when you hang it up in the closet and call it yours, that is not the end of the story. God is a god of redemption. Recognize those ugly, lying outfits. Take them to God and tell Him that you want to get rid of them. They don't fit and they don't make you look lovely. He will forgive you for ever hanging them up and he will work with you to replace them with outfits that ARE lovely...and a lot more becoming!