sunday morning musings: throw off the heaviness
I was so cranky the first part of this month. I like to think I can manage myself well enough to appear normal in social situations, but if you ask my husband about early July. . . second thought, don't ask him! Everything in my life (read: the children) felt so annoyingly difficult. I was pissed off about the constant interruptions and having to clean marker-covered faces, and, oh yeah, the reminding. As in, "'put that away'" does not mean 'drop it in the middle of the floor,'" and "your sister's head is not a target." I know, boo hoo, poor me. As my mom used to say, "let's have a pity party, boo hoo hooo." (And then she would try to rock me, no matter how old I was.)
Last week, I was trying to encourage a friend in my Hello Mornings group (love this group!) who has been struggling with health problems, and was feeling low. I suggested that praise and gratitude were the main things that could help, and she responded with a comment about putting on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).
Wow. It's interesting how when you truly try to encourage someone else, it almost always circles back around to encourage you as well. I had not identified my feeling as heaviness exactly, but I was definitely plodding through my day without any lightness. Yes, I have chores I don't like. Yes, I have small children that repeatedly do the opposite of what I say (usually while I'm still in the middle of saying it). Yes, there is an unholy amount of SportsCenter on in this house. Blah-dee-blah blah. But I love my life, and all my duties and difficulties are small in comparison to the joy that flows back to me from these beautiful people I get to spend my life with.
That is, the difficulties seem small most of the time. But sometimes we (mothers in particular?) find ourselves oppressed by a spirit of heaviness. What do I mean by that? A spirit of heaviness will make you feel this way:
- It darkens our countenance. Our hearts are down cast. This spirit brings a "heaviness" over us.
- It dims our vision, robs our hope. The room may actually look darker.
- It brings a heavy, oppressive feeling. It quenches our faith.
- It may come over many at once, like a plague. It can be like a cloud, hanging over a place.
- It causes us to isolate, it steals our love, makes us feel alone.
Do you see that? It steals our love. I love my kids like crazy, but when I'm sulking under the heaviness, I secretly Google military school options. I have a fantastic husband who works very hard for our family, at work and at home. He cleans kitchens, forgives quickly when I'm
bitchy unpleasant, never ever complains that I overcook the meat a lot occasionally, and you should have seen the diaper he changed yesterday. But it's so easy sink down into that mire of self-pity and rant in my head about all the things I wish he would prioritize over baseball highlights. (Because I'm perfect, and he should be too, right?)
This post called Overcoming the Spirit of Heaviness at TotalChange.org (referenced above) is really good. I love the article's first step: "Recognize it. "This is not you, you are a child of God. This is not God's will for you."
Maybe you do this too, but I notice that I fall into the particular trap of unconsciously believing, "I'm acting this way because I am selfish and lazy." Well, actually I am selfish and lazy, but I generally don't act that way (thanks to my mother), so it makes more sense to look for another source of pressure. And sometimes that pressure is just plain old spiritual warfare. The topic of spiritual warfare is large and broad, and I'm not the person to write about it deeply.
All I'm really saying today is this: if you feel like you're not yourself, like you're weighed down by something beyond your circumstances, you should probably start singing. Put on the garment of praise and see what happens to that heaviness.
Personally, just getting my eyes off of myself long enough to praise God - remembering the amazing Love that pours down on me without my having earned one bit of it - heals me. Sometimes it's instant, and sometimes I have to really sink into worship before my heart lifts, but putting on the garment of praise always lifts the spirit of heaviness.