For the last year, I have been living with the amazing blessing of a sense of nearly constant peace, joy, and fulfillment. Every day I felt overwhelmed with God’s blessings on me and my family. I felt deeply the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom and raising Jeshuah and ministering within our church. I could hardly wait to go to sleep every night so I could jump out of bed at 5:30am to begin the day with sweet quiet time with God and then head off to my to-do list. Sure, there were struggles in the midst of all of this, but for the most part, I was brimming with joy and excitement as I went from day to day. And every day I woke with such delight to serve my husband and meet my son’s needs, I was keenly aware that these wonderful feelings were a gift from God that He could choose to remove at any given time. And then the real test would be whether I would remain faithful to the call even when I didn’t feel like it.
About five weeks ago, with a swift sweep of his hand, God reached out and snatched all those good feelings away from me. In an instant, I went from smiling at the prospect of clearing a counter full of dishes, to a despair so debilitating I simply couldn’t do it. Upon waking every morning, I fought an inexplicable tidal wave of panic and terror at the thought of the day before me. Every ordinary task seemed now so insurmountable, I couldn’t gather up the strength to do it. Dishes and laundry were never ending–what was the point? Cleaning was exhausting and short-lived. How depressing! Fixing food only created more dishes which I didn’t have the strength to do. Each day simply flowed into another with more menial tasks, and what was the point of it all?
Such are the thoughts and feelings that have encompassed me over this last month. And yet, as I battle to fight them off with truth, I have to ask myself “What on earth changed?” I have always done dishes that simply became dirty again. Never has a swept floor remained crumb free. When one load of laundry is done, there is another pile mounting to be washed. None of this is new. None of this used to terrify and debilitate me as it is now. It is simply my attitude toward it that has changed. It is only my feelings about it that have swayed from joy-filled to despair.
And I fear I am quite a slave to my feelings. If I do not feel like doing it, by jove, I probably won’t. If Jeshuah is napping and there is a pile of dishes to be done, but I would rather sit on the porch and read, you can be certain that is what I will do. I find that the only reason I have been faithful in the past is because I have felt like being faithful. I have felt the benefits of this obedience. I have been blessed with joy in my work.
But my recent plunge back into a depression that has removed all these feelings from me reminds me that I am not to live according to my feelings–ever. Even when I am feeling good. Life is not about doing what feels right. Life is about unquestioning, faithful obedience to God’s call on our lives, no matter how we feel about it. And praise God when the feelings follow, but we are not entitled to feeling good. That is a gift of God which I do not take for granted. It is a sweet, sweet gift, and I would rather be back in that season of feeling the good feelings than be here in this deep pit of wrestling for every obedient act. But I also know that it is here that God will do some of his deepest work in me. How can I relate to and effectively pray for those who wrestle with these things if I do not know the pain involved myself? Already I can look back and recognize a judgemental spirit towards other when I felt joy in all my household labors and they found it wearisome. Now I remember–oh yeah! It feels pretty awful, and yes it can be paralyzing and debilitating to feel this way. But I pray for victory over that element. Sure, I may not feel wonderful about doing the dishes or changing the sheets. But I am still called to do it, and to choose to do it with a joyful heart.
May God give me grace as he has for each day thus far to fight the fury of these negative feelings and simply be obedient no matter what. He is growing me to be more like his Son, he is teaching me deeper lessons, he is refining me with fire. And, oh, how I will rejoice on the other side of it! It will all be worth it in the end, to know Christ deeper.