As the sun broke through the sky, I watched my husband swing our daughters (as they begrudgingly took turns) and caught glimpses of heaven as their laughter erupted to and fro, to and fro. Their shadows dove deeply into the pavement of the sidewalk and a cool breeze clutched my arm reminding me how lucky I was to get to wear short sleeves outside in the middle of February.
As I lay in bed that night, I couldn't help but sigh and just say over and over in my head "Thank you, Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus" in one of those non-chalant-yet-completely-sincere prayers where I want nothing more than to drift from perfect day into perfect dream and be swept into a rejuvenating state of rest with hope to wake up feeling just as grateful. Indeed, I felt blessed. Overwhelmingly blessed. Too-good-to-be-true blessed.
And, this is exactly the perfectly vulnerable state that I was in when the first lie of the night crossed my mind. "This is too perfect. Something bad is coming."
I don't know about you, but sometimes I get superstitious with my prayer life. I'll be blabbering along honestly with God, when all of a sudden I catch myself bargaining with Him. It's like He doesn't already know that I'll screw up again, or like I can suddenly earn the gift of His grace in my life - both of which are big fat whoppers. Lies. Falsehoods. And a complete distortion of how my life actually looks from God's perspective (which, in short, is something like "I love you. Stop trying to deserve it. You don't. That's why I invented grace. The end.") There's nothing I've done to earn where I am, why would I think the future would work any differently? It seems to be simple human nature (sin, that is) that keeps me drifting towards the notion that "If I just do ABC, then XYZ is sure to happen." The fact that this might not be true when it comes to life, is exactly what had me unsettled. (This is the when-bad-things-happen-to-good-people part of life that we do our best to avoid in this world.)
I woke up in the middle of the night nearly debilitated by my worry. I spent much of the night fraught with dread. The "What ifs?" crept in and soon manifested themselves into full-blown hypotheticals spinning out of control. I kept praying and praying and somehow my mind would drift back into a tormented thought of terrible questions, concerns, and doubts. I found myself sick with despair that all this goodness might just be a cruel way of "waiting for the other shoe to drop" and that surely, something devastating must be in my path for all of this blessing to be here in my lap for the time being.
I couldn't help myself. I got out of bed, paced around the house, checked my phone, prayed some more, and physically and audibly (literally, as if I was shaking his grip off my arms) said "In the name of Jesus, Satan, you have no power over me." I wish I could tell you some incredibly wild, movie-like story of how angels appeared or a light shone or how I instantly burst into tears with the feeling of peace that surpasses all understanding. But, I can't. It didn't. Instead, I returned to bed, confident in hope; but frustrated and tired.
I still couldn't sleep. And when I can't sleep, I think. This is good and bad, seeing as I get a lot of thinking done...but, it is wearing and rarely productive. However, as I kept praying and asking God to separate His truth from my feelings, clarity began to set in. Yes, today was beautiful. No, I may not deserve it, but that does not mean I don't fully get to engage and enjoy in the blessing that it is. Yes, God is good. No, every day will not go perfectly. Yes, God is good. No, I will not go through this life without pain. Yes, God is good. God is good. God is good.
I was under attack. Some of you out there might think I'm just nuts, but the truth of the matter was that Satan would want nothing more than to steal my present joy, especially when I start giving God the credit. I have no idea why my girls are healthy and my marriage is happy and I love to write - but they are and it is and I do. If you've read this blog for long at all, you know that NOT every day is perfect (HA! far from it) but, this little gem in my week was a noticeable blessing and it snowballed into my great big appreciation for all that God has given me and redeemed in my life.
And it all could disappear tomorrow. And still... God. Is. Good.
Before I finally drifted back to sleep, I had to cling to the one truth that was all I really had to satiate my worry for the night: Jesus is all I have, Jesus is all I need, Jesus can't be lost. (Okay, maybe that's three truths.) But, it is the essential truth that my heart as a human mother and wife struggles against. Of course I love my children and husband beyond all reason. I can't imagine my life without them and when I start to go down that unfathomable path of worry like something might happen to them it only leads to destructive thoughts that paralyze my future completely. But, I can't live like that! Nor do I have to!
We are not called to worry. We are not called to control. We are not called to be the answer. I have to let God be God (thank goodness!) and count one final blessing: that I get to live in the freedom, under the protection, and with the privilege of allowing God to churn out the utmost goodness out of my life however HE deems best. It won't always be comfortable or understandable, but He is faithful to make the most of it no matter what.
This is a lot to swallow at three in the morning. It's taken more than one sleepless, worrisome night for me to be able to (over the years) get better and better at distinguishing truth from feelings. I have a loooong way to go, and many worries to wage war with, this I am sure. But, in this constantly shifting world that throws unpredictable challenges my way, I'm on-my-knees-grateful that I have a God who is eternally good to turn to when my irrational two-in-the-morning-mind starts churning up concerns about hypothetical problems in days that don't yet exist. (I mean, really, how ridiculous does that sound in the light of day anyway?)
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I don't know if I'll sleep well tonight or let my thoughts wander into worry. Sometimes it is easier said than done to focus on truth than sit in the familiar feelings of anxiety. It often feels justified because we are worried about such "valid" things (children, marriage, money, health, future)...but, the reality of my relationship with Jesus reminds me that it is simply NOT mine to worry about. I'm not in control. I'm not the answer. I can't prevent every tragedy or know the best for my future (let alone anyone else's.)
So, mind-of-mine, rest tonight! Embrace the freedom and joy of the perfect day. And be just as bountifully-grateful tomorrow when the imperfect days ahead roll out the same bit of promise as it did today: God is good.