A Year of Gray Days
This has been a hard year in more ways than I can count. Last Christmas, my mom’s rapid descent into dementia stunned us and cast a bitter cloak over the holidays. The next few hard, sad, angry, fearful, months culminated in her June funeral. My husband had a health scare later that summer which, thankfully, turned out to be just that – a scare, but still – the anxiety was very real. The usual assortment of grown-kid-drama drones relentlessly in the background. (Why did I have four again? To my children that read this: just kidding.) The ongoing Obamacare woes that have affected my husband’s Healthcare IT-job situation has been difficult, not to mention our skyrocketing healthcare costs. Then, to top it off, I managed to contract a virus that knocked me off my feet for two entire weeks.
I have to admit, this has been a year of testing. On a scale of one to ten, a definite three. I am usually a very optimistic person. In an effort to stay that way, I recite Scriptures to myself lest I fall into the pit of despair, or the slough of despond. Which never happens, trust me. I fall into a kind of slough of irritability and criticism, which is worse. Just ask my family.
My morning devotionals lately have been dusty and dry – more habit than delight. All those chirpy devotionals by Beth Moore or Christine Caine or Lisa Bevere or any of the latest batch of nimble-mouthed, Spirit-filled, teacher-babes just depress me. This has not been a chirpy year, and I am trying to be patient with myself. I download those devotionals to my Kindle, try them out, then delete them with an irritated swipe of my index finger, and go back to the familiar “Streams in the Desert” which is more my speed right now. Desert. Dry. Parched. Stumbling. A little lost. Grit stinging my eyes as I walk.
Depressed yet? Boy, I am. But I’m fighting it.
It’s a good thing that I have learned not to give in to my feelings. Well, not for long, anyway. I have walked with God long enough to know that faith – the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen – is more real and substantive than my feelings.
My feelings tell me to second-guess my decisions, that my prayers are futile, that the gray days will continue. God says “But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” IS 40 Also, “Stay joined to Me, and let My teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered.” JOHN 15 And finally, “God will bless you, if you don’t give up when you are being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as He rewards everyone who loves Him.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m all in on a glorious life!
My feelings tell me I should be worried about certain situations, try to fix them, which never ends well. If I’m not careful, I will alienate and offend rather than help. But God says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything offer your requests to God with thanksgiving. Then, the God of peace will mount guard over your heart and mind with a peace that passes understanding.” PHIL 4
My feelings often tell me I am too old, too dumb, too opinionated, too…too whatever. But God says, “The Lord will BLESS you, if you obey His laws.” PS 128:1 “Share your plans with the Lord, and you will SUCCEED.” PR 16:3 (Gosh, I love the word ‘succeed’, don’t you?)
My feelings also plague me when my adult children struggle. Why I try to shoulder their burdens is beyond me, but they are all Christians, and God says, “You were in serious trouble, but you prayed, and He rescued you. By the power of His own word, He healed you, and saved you from destruction.” PS 107 They know how to pray. I know how to pray. Dragging around their burdens should not be an option for me. God also says, “I will teach your children, and make them successful.” IS 54 I believe this. With a defiant fist in the air sometimes, but I believe this.
Gray days come, gray days go, and eventually, the sun shines bright again. The trick is to endure the gray days, standing firm; to cast down the unruly feelings that often lie to me. Through clenched teeth, the winds of change whistling through my hair, sand stinging my eyes, I repeat to myself: “I can do “all things through Him who strengthens me.”
So, bring it, life! Bring on the gray days! With God’s word on my lips and a piping hot, fresh cup of coffee in my hand, I will run hard after that glorious life God talks about, no matter what. Unruly and depressing feelings, your days are numbered.