Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Noise of Emotions

After writing my last post I realized there was so much more to my story than just feeling the weight of making the right decisions on behalf of my children.  The bigger concept was in fact knowing the voice of God was speaking into my heart and mind concerning matters of direction.  Having security in the journey because of having heard from the Lord.  I longed to know more than anything that I was in the center of God's will for my life and the life of my family.

Prior to 5 years ago, I felt fairly confident at my “calling in life”.  We were moving through life easily with glimpses of a future that was secure, promising and very predictable.  Surrounded by a steady life brought great comfort and directing the paths of our children was not wrought with life altering decisions. I cannot say that life was a perfect bed of roses.  There were plenty of struggles and difficulties but being surrounded familiarity and tons of people who loved and cared for us made those tough spots of life easier.   And then that all changed, feeling led to give up our comfy existence we relocated to Colorado with the dream of serving the Lord through full-time ministry.  Not knowing what that would look like exactly we spent the first couple of years exploring and assessing the terrain in more ways than one and while we had some hard moments of settling in it was kind of fun doing life very differently.  And then reality set in and we realized the kids needed to be in full time school and we needed some direction.  For the first time in the life of our family I felt confused, scared and unsure as to what was best for my kiddos.  Gone was the familiarity of knowing what to expect as well as the support of people to loved us and had an investment in our lives as a family.  Not having a long history in our community we didn't have the luxury of insight of the pluses and minuses of choices.  We did we thought was best and moved in the direction of placing them in a school near our home that was touted as the best school in our area.  I left my adored position as a stay at home mom and took a job in order to get the kids into the school.  We embraced our new direction with open arms and settled into a very different lifestyle.  Along the way, there were bumps in the road.  Challenges that I wonder now if I should have opened my eyes a little wider or slowed down a bit to listen to what God may have been telling me about what was happening in the hearts and minds of my children while they were at school.  That first year was hard for everyone.  The kids struggled but we trudged through because we were convinced that this was the best place for our kids.  After all there were literally thousands of people who would have loved my spot in this school therefore it had to be the right place.  We made it through the first year and at the encouragement of my husband, I remained on staff.  We continued on the path never questioning our direction however slowly seeing the joy in our family diminish.  I took a full-time position that ended up being more than 40 hours a week.  My children were stressed, overwhelmed and tired and I found myself in a constant state of wondering what was our purpose, why were we here and what did God have in store for us.  It had to be something more but I didn’t even have a tiny glimpse of what it might be.  I have to admit, at a couple of points, I was just mad.  I mean we had come to serve, uprooted our family and after 3 years we found ourselves with no opportunities on the horizon.  Again, while my faithfulness was waning, I didn’t question our direction. My husband was confident there was promise awaiting and I trusted his wisdom. We embarked on yet another year but this time we tweaked things a bit.  Feeling compelled to move our high schooler to the hybrid online school where I worked.  He was still enrolled in the same school just a different program and I thought having him near me would make a difference.  There was still the absence of what the long term future held but we thought we were making a good decision for our kiddos.  My life became consumed with managing my work schedule leaving me oblivious to what was transpiring with my kids.  I worked many hours leaving me with no brain capacity to manage my life at home.  In the midst of the turmoil of our family and home life we were given a glimmer of hope when my husband was hired as a COO for a local ministry.  We were so excited about this opportunity to finally serve only to have our fire of our excitement extinguished within a few short months at the hands of a few individuals who were eager to preserve their own skin and cushy positions as opposed to seeing the potential of growth within a stagnant ministry.  We were left devastated, hurt, sickened and in shock at the hypocrisy of individuals who claim to serve the Lord and profess to be Christ followers but behave very different behind closed doors.   The support of employees and field servants within this ministry as well people working outside of ministry was unprecedented however it didn’t soothe the deep wound of having been attacked so viciously by fellow believers.  As I have written in previous posts, instead of getting better life became worse and I came to the realization that no amount of tweaking was going to make it work.  My kids were struggling because they were not in an environment that was conducive to them thriving, I couldn’t manage working a  full-time job and support my husband and kids so we were faced with a decision that was hard.    Believing that our oldest son needed a full-time school we chose to enroll him in a local Christian School.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but something we felt we had no choice. He was spiraling downward and we had to rescue him.   My heart was consumed with guilt in that why had we not done this earlier.  Mommy guilt is the worse and I have had heaps of it as I have come to the realization that while it has been so difficult watching my son acclimate to this new school, at 11th grade, struggling socially, emotionally as well as academically this school provides more than I could have ever hoped for him.  The guilt rises from seeing how different every aspect of his life could be and regretting not having placed him there when we first moved here.  Hence all contemplative thought about decisions and choices.  Why would God allow us to walk so deeply into the woods of life knowing there was a beautiful green meadow just on the other side?  How can we know for certain that the choices we make are exactly the perfect will of God? Why would it seem that he directs us into places of service only for us to be attacked and wounded by our brothers in the faith?   My humanness leaves me so flawed in my ability to make decisions sometimes and I long to have God's voice boom in my head as to what is the best direction.  Even in the midst of our choice to move 3 of our kids to a new school my mind is filled with the questions of “am I doing the right thing”. Because I certainly have made what seems to be poor choices over the past 5 years.  But this does seems like it is the best for them right now.  We just completed all of our Back to School nights and my heart was filled with security in knowing that my kids (especially my little’s) are not only in a great educational environment that is perfect for their learning styles but that their teachers love them and pour God’s love and truth into them every day.  Their hearts and minds are filled with encouragement and praise for the things they accomplish no matter how small and their unique God given talents are celebrated.  They each feel special and “wonderfully made”.  They don’t live in a box looking like square pegs in round holes.  I pray every day that God will make perfect all my imperfect decisions made on behalf of my children.  I long to hear God’s voice confirming in my heart that He is directing our paths.  I have said so many times I think I could do anything as long as I had the confidence that I was living out the will of God but how can we know for certain that we are in the center of His will particularly when there is so much confusion and turmoil surrounding us. I have walked in faith since I was 5 years old and have struggled at various times throughout my life with hearing the voice of God.  Is He silent or am I not listening.  Or maybe I am just distracted….I desperately needed to know.
My quest to know this led me to Amazon, a few nights ago and I did a book search of the words “Hearing God”.  And the first selection was a book by Peter Lord called “Hearing God”.  Peter was a pastor of a church in FL that Mike and I attended often early in our marriage.  Peter’s teaching played a significant role in my husband’s salvation therefore I knew Mike probably had this book downstairs in his library.  I grabbed it off his shelf and as I always do I skimmed the chapters searching for something to quickly jump out at me and where did I end but at the beginning of the chapter on “Hindrance’s”.  And what would in the first few paragraphs but a section entitled “The Hindrance of Runaway Emotions” Could it be that my uncontrollable feelings about my situations be hindering me from hearing God’s voice.  It was really ironic or rather God like that I keep finding myself coming face to face with my runaway emotions.  Sitting on my bedside table are the following books:

Unglued: Making wise choices in the midst of raw emotions
She’s Gonna Blow: Real help for moms dealing with anger
Defuse: A mom’s survival guide for more love, less anger

I am seeing a pattern here…..I truly struggle with my taming my emotions at this point in my life and my reading list evidences my acknowledgement of this.  But my feelings of anger, fear, worry, frustration, disappointment, bitterness, doubt and unbelief couldn’t be standing in the way of God’s voice, or could they?  I mean emotions are normal and after all, I am a 45 year old woman with hormones running amuck, managing life with 4 emotionally charged kiddos with medical as well as mental health needs.  I live 3000 miles from the support of family therefore the loneliness in dealing with this stuff is mammoth.  Surely God understands that and can speak through the craziness in my head and point me in the right direction.  But despite my self talk I soaked in some powerful yet convicting words that gave me a bit of a wake-up call with regards to my desperation of hearing the voice of God.

  • First of all, I needed to admit my emotions to God.   Tell Him exactly how I feel, confession is the first step to breaking down the barriers of communication in any relationship but especially our relationship with God.
  • Secondly, I needed to acknowledge that these emotions were preventing me from hearing God.  So often we hastily make decisions in highly charged states of mind when we should just be still, give the feelings to God, focus on surrender and let Him overwhelm the our desire to fix the situation. 
  • Then I needed to remember that my emotions are much harder to control when you are physically down.  I found as I read a profound rule for women to follow, "you should wait to make decisions based on the will of God until you are restored in body."  For me, this hit home as I think about that “time of the month” when emotions can be SUPER CHARGED.  Finding that sane moment can be a bit difficult for all of us premenopausal women who feel that this “time” hangs around much more than just a few days before we start our periods. But I knew that if I could be very sensitive of those days when I was feeling most clear and take advantage of that time to seek the Lord earnestly and make crucial decisions the result would be far more sound.
  • And lastly, I should ask the Lord to help me deal with my emotions.  “He may have allowed them to surface just so that you can present them to Him to deal with and He can transform them for His Glory."  Or perhaps He is allowing them to emerge in order to change our thoughts or force us to deal with something we had repressed.

This final point was something I needed to process….was God allowing the difficulties, the uncertainty, the darkness, and the chaos to remain in my life in order to get my attention and make me aware of something that needed to be addressed in either my personal walk, or my relationship with my kids or my husband or perhaps our position in life.  This was very possible therefore I knew my first step was to offer my unrestrained emotions to the Lord and ask Him to help me deal with them.  As in all things, we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else.  This is true in a physical sense as well as a spiritual sense.  Instead of wondering where God was in my time of need and feeling hopelessly abandoned by the One who saved me, I needed to cease my endless cries for Him to fix the chaos and dysfunction of my outside world and allow him to heal all the hurt parts of my internal world.  So often I think that external fixes will heal the hurts that bring about those frenzied emotions and the highs and lows remain. This was an internal compartment that needed to be cleaned out.  Perhaps when the God who designed me in my mother’s womb brought light into the darkness of that compartment bringing order into my disordered life I could have the eyes to see the perfection in my life.   I found confidence on that day in knowing that if a submitted my emotions to Him in humbleness those life choices wouldn’t seem so overwhelming.  And now I must put into practice what I have learned, one day at a time.

"In the silence of the heart God speaks.  If you face God in prayer and silence.  God will speak to you.  Then you will know you are nothing.  It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself.  Souls of prayer are souls of great silence."  Mother Teresa

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