On the outside, my life doesn’t look dramatically different from this time last year. I have the same job, am married to the same wonderful man; I’m mom to two delightful children, we still worship at the same church, and we’re continuing to deepen relationships with our church family and friends. Life is full and good.
But, on the inside, there’s been a dramatic transformation.
There’s an inner peace and calm that’s replaced the constant activity of my mind. Making peace with my emotions, so that they no longer scare me, means that I can comfortably be in any given moment without having to control my feelings. That process, in the end, was really about who I placed my trust in: me or God?
As the layers of emotion unfolded last summer, the anxiety and sadness revealed my deepest fear: that I cannot protect my children, husband, and loved ones. I don’t know whether something tragic might occur in our lives. Coming to grips with that ultimate fear sent me racing into the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father. While I can’t know what the future holds, He knows. Through prayer I can entreat Him to protect my family and rest in the knowledge that Christ will make all things right in the end.
It has been simply amazing to experience all the changes that flow from trusting God and keeping God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the focus of ultimate value in my life. In a real way it feels like living the verse:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
There’s a great freedom in realizing how little control I actually have, how little I can do on my own. Believing that Christ accomplished everything for our salvation, including giving us the gift of faith in Him, provides this beautiful peace through surrendering. I don’t have to do anything to make myself or my life more pleasing to God. Instead, I can focus on serving God, my family, co-workers, and friends, in love.
In my daily life, there are times when upsetting thoughts or feelings appear. I notice them now, accept that they’re there, pray that God will use them for good or help them pass by, and then go back to the current moment and directing my attention to what’s happening. That process ususally takes a few seconds, maybe a minute. Feeling uncomfortable emotions or thinking negative thoughts doesn’t mean there’s anything “wrong”. Having a poor night’s sleep doesn’t mean I’m depressed. It all just means I’m human and experiencing life in this fallen world.
Acceptance and trust work together beautifully.
This transformation has made my world simultaneously smaller and richer. Instead of seeing how much I can do, how many projects I can say “yes” to or activities to fill in the calendar, I cherish time with Dennis, Sienna, and Mateo. We plan activities with good friends and our church family. We spend a lot more time at home, caring for our little piece of the world and devoting time to things that are most important – family dinners, Sienna’s first communion catechesis, and decorating for the changing seasons and holidays.
The mundane is more special now. Making breakfast turns into teaching the kids to flip pancakes. Washing the car becomes a fun way to cool off on a hot afternoon. Family dinner time gives us an opportunity to review memory verses with Sienna or hear Teo’s latest prayer song from preschool. Cleaning up the kitchen is a chance for Dennis and me to catch up on our day and enjoy the sunset view from our backyard.
There are certainly moments that are challenging, frustrating, angering, or sad. Accepting these emotions as a normal, natural, and healthy part of life has been a great opportunity for growth. But, more importantly, I’m now trusting that God is working all things for good and is always there to comfort, heal, and provide His perfect care.