Monday, February 20, 2017

Mental Instability: When Your Thoughts Aren't Structurally Sound

"Why do you think you're so angry lately?"

The words sent me reeling, but there was undeniable truth in them.

"I don't know," I spat out defiantly. "Why do YOU think I'm so angry?"

"I don't know, either," Josiah said, "but it feels like you've just grabbed on to anger and discontentment recently, in every area of your life, and you don't even want to let it go. It's like you're holding on to it.

Our beautiful, Sunday morning walk in the sunshine took a sharp turn into stormy weather.

I balked for a bit, and argued for a bit, but somewhere, deep back in my brain, there was a tug.

After he took the babies in, I sought the solitude in the haven of my new van (man, I love that thing).

And to be completely transparent, at first, I started coming up with all the ways he was wrong. Instead of self-examination, I was coming up with the next part of my battle plan...but I was fighting the wrong enemy.

For our battle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the authorities,
against the world powers of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Ephesians 6:12

I was strategizing on how to beat Josiah, when I should have been trying to defeat the darkness that had so easily snaked its way into my soul.

However, just that morning, one of my devotions was based on the following scripture, and because I'm focusing right now on scripture memorization, the answer to my dilemma was plain:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24

I think this is one of those things we pray over ourselves not really expecting God to show up...but He does, and He is always on time.

I asked God to search my heart, find my anxious thoughts, and expose what He found offensive: He did not disappoint.

Lately, God has been using me and teaching me, and I've loved it, but it's also given me a deep hunger for MORE. More time with Him, more solitude, more messages, more connections.

Instead, though, I have lots and lots of kids...which often means LESS. Less time with Him, less solitude (SO MUCH LESS), less messages, and less connections.

So, while I've been a conduit of God's word for others, here in my household, I'm hanging on by a thread. I have a short fuse. I'm easily offended. A good day can become awful...quickly.

After a while, I got the gumption to come in and apologize to Josiah for my actions and words and tell him I knew there was truth to what he was saying.

Tears, a drive, and a long talk led us to part of the reason yesterday; I'm experiencing mommy burnout.

Here's a fun fact: a person cannot be "on" all the time. Plus, frankly, toddlers are not my gift. I LOVE my precious babies, but for example, if you put me in the toddler room at church, my anxiety level shoots through the roof.

What I've been telling myself is that "I'm just not good at this...this momming many people thing." I've also been saying, "I'm not meant to do this."

Consciously, I know God doesn't make mistakes, and He gave me these precious babies for a reason, but my head has not done a good job of keeping my feelings in check.

Because I'm burnt out...and it's going to take more than just Starbucks for a couple hours to fix this...and that's okay.

We came up with somewhat of a plan to get me a full day alone, along with a full day for US alone...because time with one another has been pretty lacking lately, too.

Our relationship is running on fumes, low on oil, and that's just not good for the engine.

But this morning, God revealed something else that was going on: my intellectual framework was faulty.

Once again, during my devotions, he brought me scripture:

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

I've always looked at this passage and thought, "We'll have peace if we trust God. Great! I know that already." But this morning, something about the word "steadfast" made me want to look up the original Hebrew, and it broke this verse open for me.

Basically, without nerding out on you guys too much with the details, it says:
God will guard, watch over, and preserve complete peace in the hearts of the people whose intellectual framework is resting squarely upon Him.
There are a couple key words there that I think are really important. First, "perfect peace" there is shalom shalom. The word is so nice, he said it twice.

Seriously though, often in Hebrew, repetition was used for emphasis. Shalom means peace. Saying it twice indicates complete peace, a peace that is in no way lacking.

Second, looking at the Hebrew gave me a picture of our thoughts not as individual roads or pathways, but instead a the structure of a building. Each and every load-bearing board must rest squarely on a strong foundation.

Small weaknesses in structure can make or break a building when storms come.

And let's face it: if I'm venturing into ministry, I'm calling down the thunder.

So, God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to show me the areas where my framework needed repair.

I am quite literally leading myself down a path of mental instability, and God is turning me around and leading me to the way everlasting.

He showed me the errors in my thinking, but also, He exposed how important it will be, as He uses me more, that I take time to rest in Him more...and that means more than just waking up super early to spend time with Him.

It means spending an occasional day in solitude.
It means taking the time to write.
It means spending time in nature praying and appreciating His creation.
It means remembering that my family is my first ministry.

If I reach thousands for Christ, but fail to adequately respect my husband and love and nurture my own children, I will have been a very poor steward of these precious gifts He's put in my care. They have to be my first priority, and sometimes, the best thing you can do for others is make sure you're taking care of yourself.

I pray this has blessed you today. How is God speaking to you right now?

  • Are holding on to anger or resentment?
  • Have you been battling the wrong enemy?
  • Are a couple unsteady boards in your mental framework compromising the stability of your peace?
  • Have you neglected taking care of yourself because you're too busy taking care of others?
  • What is keeping you from perfect peace?

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