I received an email last week that touched my heart. A close, yet far-away friend is searching for answers to questions that I, too, wrestle with painfully. The struggle is daily; the burden is enormous; the consequenses are eternal. Every a serious woman I know of at times cries with frustration or dispair and utters words like these:
It has seemed as if you have everything together, and that everything runs smoothly in your life, giving you the appearance of Super-Mom (I know! You hate that!!!). I also know that as the true natures of people in general go, that this perception of you cannot possibly be accurate as you are human just as I am human and are prone to your own struggles and weaknesses. Added to this, the advent of your learning to cope with your illness must have been a struggle indeed… I have great intentions to do the things that a wife is supposed to do, but somehow the getting it past intentions into action seems to escape me. I know that this is an area of which I need greater surrender to the Lord. I have attempted to organize myself and apply myself to doing those wifely duties before, but I always look at ALL that needs to be done and feel so overwhelmed I just try to ignore it a little longer. I am weary of this self-centered way of living. I am weary of ME. I want to be pleasing to God in this area, but I also know that my loving heavenly Father doesn’t expect me to become perfect overnight. He wants me to take a step by faith and just start. So, to finally get to my question. I know that you said that you had to reevaluate your priorities when you got sick, and you had to pare down your activities to fulfill that. Is there a particular way that you prioritized things and organized them to make sure that what was most important got done? And how do you deal with the discouragement and self-condemnation if you don’t do everything you planned to do? This is a repeated problem for me. I make this very detailed list of things that I “should” do, and then start out doing them, but get so discouraged when I don’t seem to be making any headway and then condemn myself for not doing ALL that I had set out for myself to do. See, even now it is the hated SELF that is being dealt with. Do you have any advice for me as to what may be the best direction for me to take in order to be a godly wife and mother who serves her family with joy as serving the Lord, but without condemnation over my failures? I would appreciate any encouragement you may have.
Oh, how my heart goes out to this dear sister. I ask these questions, at times, too, and the Lord is still teaching me in His grace some of the answers. I have not arrived at all, but I praise the Lord that He has led me further toward His plan for me during the past years. Sometimes the Lord has used trials to change my direction; sometimes He has used encouragement from wise counsellors. Always He has used His Word.
As my dear friend intimated, one of the big changes of my life has been my illness this past year. What began as nagging leg pain and unrelenting fatigue five years ago grew suddenly to loss of function and excruciating pain in all my limbs for a season. After nearly a year, I have finally been diagnosed with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis, which basically means I have arthritis of an auto-immune cause, but we don’t know which one yet. I can no longer play the piano or violin like I once could; I quit teaching private lessons after over 15 years. Other small moter tasks like typing and crochetting are tolerable for short periods. I am on an aggressive medication treatment for my arthritis and am hopeful that, even though I will never be cured, I might achieve remission. You can see on my facebook page that I have a little widget there to help me remember to excercise every day, to build up some of the muscle mass in my legs that I have lost. Overall I am doing much better than I was six months ago, and I am grateful to the Lord for bringing me through this valley.
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Not everyone struggles with a debilitaing illness, but we all have our own trials and difficulties in this world. God allows these to mold us, to shape us, and to remind us that this is not our permanent home. Enduring through these testing times is difficult; the temptor will seize upon the opportunity to discourage and distract us.
The first thing God taught me last winter, when I was flat on my back in bed, unable to do a thing, in so much pain I could no longer think straight, was to simply seek God. I could not express what I was feeling, I could not understand what I was experiencing, and I could not fathom where I was going, yet I knew the Omniscient One who desired a personal relationship with me.
Doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having min own righteousness, wich is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.
– Phil. 3: 10
Dear friends, the most important priority must be our personal relationship with God. Let us carve out time for this first. Let us work on achieving our goals for Him foremost. Let us invest in this ultimate relationship throughout the day. Let our hearts be content in Him, desire Him, commune with Him, and honor Him foremost. Knowing God … truly getting to know Our Creator… must be the first step to understanding how to live with Him here on earth.