Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learning To Smile At The Future! (part one)

The whole idea of “Becoming  A Woman Who Smiles At The Future” began while observing  a little boy that always smiles.  While talking to his mom I mentioned how amazing it was that her son always smiled and she responded, “I always try to smile for him, no matter how hard things are at home, in my marriage, etc. I try to make sure I have a smile for him”. I thought wow if this mom's smiling at her son makes him smile, what would happen if I had a smile for everyone. 

For some reason I couldn't get this out of my mind and then I came across Proverbs 31:25 "She smiles at the future".  I began to say God this is what I want to be, someone who can smile no matter what the news, situations, or circumstances are that come into my life.  So I asked God to make this true of me.  But I told Him He would have to do it since I had been trying for three years and kept failing.
The three years leading up to this time had been the darkest time of my Christian life and I felt broken and weak.  At first I just wore an outward smile whenever facing hard news or situations but I wanted to smile from within and asked God to make it true.   

God gave me these four questions to ask myself one day while I was asking Him to help me with this. I had grown so tired of the emotional roller coaster. As I spent time thinking of these questions I realized I could get off the roller coaster ride by beginning to respond correctly to the questions God presented to me

The first question is: Where do I go for comfort?  
Where I go for comfort when I’m sad, anxious and hurting will greatly influence how I feel and act in times that are hard.  If I seek to find comfort in things or expect other people to be able to fully comfort me I will be disappointed and left hurting.  So I need to let God be the one I run to for comfort. I need to take my circumstances, my anxiety and my fears and be real with God about them. I don’t need to wait until I have thought through all the possible outcomes of a situation or anxiously tried to resolve the problem instantaneously.  
Sometimes it means just crying and letting it all out.  It often means I have to sit in the pain my heart feels rather than trying to forget about it by being busy or mindlessly eating. This is by far the hardest for me as I hate to hurt, feel uncertainty or discomfort. But I have experienced great comfort and freedom since beginning this practice of feeling my pain and uncertainty instead of trying to cover it up or avoid it. In her book, “Restoring the Christian Soul”, Leanne Payne says, “As we learn more about the processes of healing within the soul, we often find that the power to feel the pain is itself a vital part of healing. The sufferer has repressed this heretofore and denied it precisely because it was so painful but now he has to get it up and out. He needs to understand that, if he will stand in the cross and hurt, there is a place for it to go, an end to the pain. This seemingly endless pain is the way he gets in touch with and names the heretofore repressed grief, fear, anger, and shame underlying his depression. In order to come out of certain types of depression, one must feel the most appalling pain and grief. It often seems that death would be easier. But repressed grief and sorrow and loss remain to afflict us in other ways until we grieve them out.” Payne, p. 8

In the past I never even really knew my true hurts or what I needed God to comfort me in because I so quickly turned to food and self-hatred (consuming thoughts of how stupid , fat or such a failure)  in  order to block out the deeper pains and anxieties. The comfort my heart needs is only found in coming first to God, who is the God of all comfort. He is able to bring my heart into a place of peace and rest even when uncertainties and suffering surrounds me. 

It is okay and good to go to others with my anxieties, hurts and sorrows but I need to realize it is God who brings the lasting comfort and I can never think another person is enough to comfort me.
So when my day gets bombarded by news that is hard to handle or news that stirs up anxiety and feelings of uncertainty I need to go to God for comfort. 

When painful memories surface and seek to steal my peace and joy I need to go to God for comfort. 

When someone hurts my feelings or makes me feel unappreciated I need to go to God for comfort. 

When I feel lonely or abandoned I need to go to God for comfort. 

There are so many things that will arise on any given day that will bring about the need to go to God for comfort and if I will turn from old ways of finding comfort and embrace God’s comfort and nearness I will be able to be a woman who smiles at the future. 

Maybe you are like me and you feel like you ride the emotional roller coaster and you are ready to get off and be someone who can smile at the future. I encourage you to take time to think about the following questions:
  • Where do you go for comfort?
  • How do you handle sudden news that leaves you feeling uncertain?
  • What do you do when painful memories surface?
  • What do you do when someone hurts your feelings?
After thinking through the questions read the verses below and then just be still before God for 5-10 minutes. Allow His presence to be your comfort and His Spirit to be your counselor. You might want to have a journal out in case a word or verse keeps circling through you heart and mind. Write it down and then talk to God about whatever He might be showing you.

Lamentations 3:31-32 For the Lord will not  cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.

Psalms 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalms 27:4-5 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.

Psalms 22:24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

Psalms 56:8 You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

Psalms 116:1-2 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

John 14:16-18 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…”

John 14:26-27 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Lamentations 3:22-23 It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Psalms 30:5 Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalms 71:20-21You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.

John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Revelation 21:5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Part 2 of this blog post will be posted shortly.

1 comment:

  1. Jen, this is such a thoughtful blog entry. Thank you for sharing your heart in this way. I too have been struggling with "smiling at the future." Please allow me to share a prayer that I pray every morning. It has been a source of strength and hope for me this past year:

    "O Lord, grant me to greet this new day in peace. Help me in all things to humbly rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all I do and say guide my thoughts and feelings.

    In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You.
    Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love..."

    Looking forward to tomorrow's post. Love you! Judi