We’re heading towards the end of the third month of the year and I’m taking a moment to reflect on that New Year’s Resolution that I wrote about at the end of December – choosing to seek and celebrate happiness even amidst the hard times of life.
Well I have to confess I thought the start of the year was a tough one but actually, when I thought it would get easier as we headed towards spring it’s actually just got harder and harder. I just don’t remember when I last felt completely well – I’ve constantly got a cold or cough and last week my sinuses were so gunked up, I couldn’t breath properly and my head hurt when I moved. Mike, my husband has coughed and coughed since Christmas. The kids have been snot producers since September and also constantly coughing but it doesn’t seem to bother them so much.
But then over just five weeks our oldest had tonsillitis that turned into scarlet fever, then worms, then random tummy discomfort that was worse at night, then an awful case of chicken pox that culminated in a bout of severe abdo pain and vomiting for a night. Just as he started to pick up my youngest started with the nighttime tummy pain. Getting to sleep the whole night without a child or two needing me multiple times through the night seems to be a rare luxury.
As a result, finding and participating in happy amidst the hard stuff of life has felt increasingly challenging. I admit one night last week I just felt so low and despairing. I am grateful that this week I’m feeling physically better and so better able to handle day to day life despite my youngest now being covered in a mass of pox spots and my husband feeling pretty rough with the sinus virus I had last week.
It is this kind of experience of despair that has led me to believe that I am not an Evangelist – someone God has particularly called to share the good news of his grace filled love and redemption through Jesus. I’ve always seen myself more as a Disciple Maker – someone who teaches and encourages people as they continue in their relationship with God having already made that step of faith and acknowledging Jesus as the saviour of their lives.
However, recently, as I’ve become more and more convinced of the need of my friends and community, country and even world to know the love of Jesus, I’ve realised that the reason I don’t feel equipped to be an Evangelist is because I don’t feel my life lives up to what I’m ‘selling’.
If I’m trying to tell people that a relationship with Jesus changes your life what does it say to them when they see me struggling with my mental health or getting cross with my children, falling out with family or failed first marriage?
But if my faith is real to me, if I still believe in the love of Jesus and the importance of a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, despite the story of my life and it’s failings then that’s what I need to share. Because that’s reality. And real is what people need to hear about, not a story of false hope.
So this is me. I am far from perfect. I doubt and I question. I fail and I muck up. And I struggle at times to stay positive. But; when I choose to step out in faith, when I choose Jesus as my friend and put my trust in him; then more often than not I find life and hope, things fall into place and make sense. My muck ups and failings don’t have to define me as I have a Saviour who has made a way for me to be forgiven and made whole again. God is even gracious enough to sometimes use those mistakes to bring about something unexpectedly and miraculously beautiful. In Jesus’s life and teachings I find hope and justice, grace and love, and it has the potential to transform communities; transform my community, my country and the world. My heart so wants others to grasp and embrace that too.
And on the ‘not’ occasions; when despite crying out to God in faith I still find I’m really struggling, I’m not alone. If I reach out to the community of believers in Jesus (my church and wider Christian friends) then they pray and believe on my behalf and they show me God’s love in practical ways and hold on to me until I come out the other side. As a result the above still holds true even when I’m not feeling it and even doubting it.
I do have a calling to teach and equip people who have already chosen to walk their lives with Jesus as their friend and saviour. But I also have a heart that is full and breaking and longing for others to know his redemptive grace in their lives too. And my life story doesn’t detract from it; in fact it’s an example of exactly why it’s needed!!
I have been so grateful for all those who have supported and encouraged and prayed for me and my family over the past few weeks. I may have struggled to be happy within the tough stuff of life these past few weeks. I have been gifted pockets of grace and hope and love. And as the sun has shone a bit more and the days have been a little warmer I’m looking out for more opportunities to embrace happy in April.