Friday, March 27, 2015

SMS, y'all, SMS

Perhaps you, like me, occasionally find yourself plagued with a dreadful case of what I lovingly refer to as "SMS" -- sh*tty mood syndrome.  Full disclosure...  A piece of me somewhat hesitated as to whether or not I should actually write that word on social media.  Call me a rule-follower, I know.  It's true.  But to alter SMS to CMS (crummy or crappy mood syndrome, if you will) just doesn't seem to do the actual SMS sentiments/symptoms justice.  Also, I would technically be lying and attempting to make myself seem better than I really am, because let's face it...  I don't call it CMS.  I call it SMS because that's precisely what it is -- shitty mood syndrome.

Sometimes SMS is caused by my circumstances.  You know those days.  You're running late, you forgot to make your lunch, you're kind of feelin' like a whale in that outfit, you try to get a million things done and yet you feel like you've accomplished nothing...  You planned to bake a cake for your friend's birthday, but you forgot the sugar at the store.  Head-throbbing.  Heart-racing.  Eyes stuck in an impenetrable stare at the stupid spoon in the stupid bowl because the stupid cake now won't have the stupid ingredient that apparently makes it taste good.  The smoke alarm starts going off.  You can't figure out how to make it stop.  Your phone is ringing.  You have 7 emails you haven't responded to and 21 text messages.  All you want to do is close your eyes and magically wind up in your jammies in bed watching Parenthood or slowly melt into a puddle of tears on the floor because everything that seems like a big, freaking deal actually isn't a big, freaking deal but it feels like such a big, freaking deal that it's making you be such a big, freaking mess.

Other times SMS more so has to do with my heart.  It comes about when I feel as though my rights have been infringed upon, or I'm mad or sad or irritated or resentful or bitter or confused or a combination of them all.  And no matter if the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, nothing seems to shake the displeased, discontent, weary, ungrateful sentiments deep within my bones.  Almost always, however, SMS reveals one of two things.  My eyes have either been fixed on myself or what seems to be the lack within my circumstances.  In my most recent case, I think it has been a combination of the two.

I've felt sad, envious, jealous, and honestly lustful in desiring things I simply don't have.  Instead of giving thanks for what God has graciously given me, I'm often envious because I wish I made more money or had more free time or my body looked perfect in dresses, jeans, shorts, and bathing suits alike.  But recently I've noticed, my sin has been rearing its ugly head in jealousy and lust in regard to desiring a boyfriend, husband, marriage, whatever you want to call it.  Understand when I say there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a boyfriend or to be married one day.  I truly believe it is a holy desire!  And I'm so thankful Jesus gave me that desire to be married to a godly man one day!  But because of my sinful condition, my good desires regularly become tainted with unholiness.  Thus while a part of me does hope to be married one day because of the way I will get to honor, respect, and serve him, I also want to be married because a part of me really believes when I have a boyfriend or get married I will feel more valuable, approved of, and loved -- even though I know I cannot be any more loved than I already am in my relationship with Jesus.

Truth be told, I hate even admitting this.  I wish you could see my eyes right now.  I'm so prideful and don't want to be that girl.  I don't want to admit how self-centered I can be.  And I definitely don't want to admit I struggle with discontentment in my singleness.  I even hate the word singleness -- it makes it sound like some dreadful condition that is the result of being bitten by a wretched fly from the heart of the Sahara desert.  I think I'd rather call it Plenty or Table for Two.  Because let's face it.  For one, I really do have plenty -- more than I deserve.  I just kind of also want something else...    And two, it's not really like I'm alone. Jesus always sits with me at the table, in fact, He technically invited me to sit at the table with Him.  In Christ it's never a table for one, but I'd just prefer a table for 3 -- or maybe 7 one day?!  ;)

So often think that if I really loved Jesus, I'd be totally fine.  I wouldn't care.  I'd spend my days without a single passing thought about that cute guy or that cute guy or that one and whether or not he liked my stupid Instagram photo or invited me to coffee.  (Not gonna lie, this is so honest it makes me cringe juuuust a little bit... haha)

But honestly, I think that's a lie.  I really love Jesus.  Do I want to love Him more?  Absolutely.  Do I forget about Him?  Yes.  Do I regularly choose my sin over Him?  Yes.  But I love Him deeply, and by His grace, He has surrounded and crowned me with His steadfast love that lasts forever.  Just because we walk with Jesus doesn't mean we won't be disappointed or jealous or sad.  One.  We're sinful.  Two.  We live in a fallen world.  Our broken tendency is to survey the world around us, fixate on the one or two things we lack, believe that if God was good, if He really loved us, if He really cared, then He would give us those things.  

We look over, under, up, down, sideways, and all around with grace upon grace upon grace on every side and simply miss each one because we're so consumed by what we don't have and what we think will ultimately satisfy our hearts.

Guess what it leads to every time?  SMS, y'all, lemme tell ya.  Because even if and when we get those things, 
they're never enough.

Jesus reminded me yesterday that this condition of SMS is a reflection of what's happening in my heart.  Sometimes we just have icky moods.  But more often than not, when I really stop to examine what's going on, I'm experiencing the emotions that come from my sinful condition of wanting things not necessarily for the glory of God but for the pleasure and satisfaction it will give me.  This isn't new or unique to me.  It all began in the garden.

God had given Adam and Eve absolutely everything they needed for abundant life.  Every tree, every flower, every animal was theirs to enjoy -- except the one tree.  They had everything.  Everything.  Yet which one did they want?  The one He had withheld from them in His divine wisdom and love.  They assumed that tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the fruit from that tree was better than living in obedience to God's commands.  They assumed partaking in what had been withheld from them would truly be the answer to satisfaction and joy, when all satisfaction and joy had already been given to them.

I think of my own life and how often instead of rejoicing and giving thanks for all the Lord has given me, I find the one thing (at that moment) I feel like He's withheld from me, and I grumble or despair.  But the garden reveals His no toward us may seem painful in the moment but is always gracious and for our ultimate good and His glory.  

I can either spend my days pouting and throwing myself pity parties or I can run to Jesus.  I can spend my days in fits of jealousy and deep drudgery, or I can, by God's grace, turn my eyes toward Jesus.  I can be completely honest before Him about my disappointment and my hope that one day the table will not only be for two but for three.  I can share with Him my insecurities, my irritation, my anger, my shame.  He knows.  He is not disappointed.  He is our Father who always, always, always welcomes us with open arms.  I can walk by the flesh or I can choose to believe, by faith, that the abundant life is possible here on earth.  Yet it isn't found in the perfect circumstances, the most fabulous home, or the most daring adventure.  Abundant life is found in Jesus, and we experience it by faith, giving thanks for who the Lord is and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The choice is mine.  The choice is yours.  We can wallow in our sorrows.  We can despair about all the things we wish were ours.  We can throw up our hands in rage...  And sometimes we should.  We should be transparent and open with the Lord about how we're feeling and what we're thinking.  Life isn't all daisies and everything we see in Southern Living -- though I do thoroughly enjoy them both.  Life is full of suffering, hardship, pain, and sometimes nos we desperately wish were yeses.  But the truth is, God's story never ends with ashes.

Jesus, help us to always, always, always remember that your story never ends with mourning.  Your story never ends with despair.

The truth is that one day, in the blink of an eye, this earth will pass away, and He will establish a new heaven and a new earth, where we will delight in loving and worshipping Him with all that we are.  Our dying bodies will be swallowed up in life.  There will be a day!  There will be a day when all that we see and partake in that is good and glorious will fill our hearts with joy an gladness and delight -- not only in the mountains and cappuccinos and novels and seashores and conversations themselves, but in the Creator of all good things.  There will come a day when all our worship will no longer be divided among the things of this world but will culminate and overflow onto our Lord and King.  We were made to worship, to give glory and praise to God, to enjoy all He has made, with a deep understanding that all the created order -- in its beauty and majesty and goodness and kindness is merely a shadow of the one who made it all.  

Thus for today...  For today I want to rejoice.  For today, I want to give thanks that my name is written in heaven.  For today I want to run outside, take a long bike ride, eat a spinach salad for lunch, and have a picnic as the sun is setting.  For today I want to believe that Jesus' love is better than life.  I want to see Him all around me and delight in His songs as I hear them being sung by the birds or Sons of the East on Spotify.  For today, I want to say no to the cake, the second glass of wine, and the fourth cup of coffee -- not because there is anything inherently sinful or wrong about any of them.   They're good gifts from our good Father in heaven!  But in my own heart, I see that so often in those things, I'm looking for something only Jesus can give.  And ultimately, He is more than enough for me.

I want to plan the road trip to Charleston and say no to the new dress from Anthro because I want to be a good steward of my finances and because life isn't found in the abundance of possessions or instant gratification.  (Though let's be real, I love a new Anthro or J. Crew purchase just as much as the next girl...)  For today, I want to refrain from getting on the scale and finding my value in how much I weigh.  I want to taste and see that the Lord is good.  I want to take my eyes off myself and pray for the eyes of Christ.  I want to slow down long enough to see, pray, share, and be with those around me.  I want to be still in the silence and listen.  I want to breathe deeply, to not take myself so seriously, and to live in a continual state of repentance and faith.  I want the goodness and greatness of my Lord Jesus to be both explicit and implicit in my words and actions.  

But most of all...  I want to come before Him in honesty and humility and confess that my tendency is to sulk and wallow in my shitty moods.  My tendency is to complain and have eyes that are fixated only on myself and what I don't have.  My tendency is to throw myself a pity party and harbor jealousy and bitterness in my heart when I ought to be rejoicing with those around me.  My tendency is to believe that all joy, all hope, all love is or will be found in marriage or the future, better version of myself orrrr as soon as I lose 10 pounds or finally get my life and schedule under control...  The list goes on.  But that's not the truth.  They're lies that lead to bondage and ultimately death.  

I want to rejoice that thanks be to God that Jesus is full of grace and truth, and that His truth sets us free.  The truth is that He came to give LIFE and LIFE abundantly.  All joy, all hope, all love, all victory, all freedom, all peace is found in relationship with Him.  The Lord is acquainted with all of our ways.  And yet knowing every intimate detail of our thoughts, actions, and motivations, He does not deal with us according to what we deserve.  He relates to us on the basis of His unending grace -- because of the perfect life Jesus lived on our behalf.  Jesus took on all our punishment, all our guilt, all our shame and condemnation upon himself, died, and rose again, that we might have a relationship with Him that lasts for eternity.  In relationship with Him, we're never alone.  

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