It's an honorable goal, one that indicates a heart working on gratitude in all things. Right? Have you ever noticed how the moment you determine to implement something in your life - for me, it would be choosing joy in all things - the moment you make this decision, the enemy comes at you from all directions to pull you from your course?
My neighbor called a few days ago to let me know that he noticed my front passenger side tire was flat. Something that would usually herald the beginning of a not-so-great-day. Except for the fact that he offered to put my spare on since my husband had already left for work. So even though I had to take a couple of hours out of my already busy day to get the tire repaired, I found gratitude for an observant neighbor and road hazard coverage that meant my tire repair was free.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've been working on a major shutter contract - one that will allow me to pay down some debt I have. Gratitude, right? Without doubt, but good heavens, the little glitches and bumpy spots in the fine-tuning of this job have given me more than one baby ulcer. All that to say, the job is mine and things are progressing along quite nicely now.
Over the last few months, it's become increasingly clear to me that my "little" girl is growing up. I mean, come on. I knew it would happen, right? At some point, interest in dolls, horses, and silly games was bound to shift to... boys. I just wish I'd been a little more prepared for this stage in life! The thing is, while we (aka "parents") read all kinds of books and articles and talk to our friends for advice... there just isn't any real preparation for this stage in life.
The experience I had as a teenager was NO experience. I wasn't allowed to date until I was a senior in high school and prior to that, I couldn't talk on the phone to my friends who were boys unless they called me. The night before my family moved 2,000 miles across the ocean, I was not allowed to call two of my good friends (who happened to be male) to say goodbye because they were, *gasp*, BOYS.
I didn't want to be such a rigid parent myself when it came time to go through this stage of life with my own daughter. And so I probably went, erroneously, in the other direction. Don't get me wrong - this is a G-rated house, so I'm not talking about anything seriously liberal! But I rearranged schedules and such to make it easier for my girl and her (boy)friend to spend time together in a family setting. What I didn't expect is that we'd become fond of this friend, too. Uh oh...
And so when they parted ways a few weeks ago, I was hit with a ridiculously large wave of sadness. So stupid. Where's that JOY that I'm supposed to be seeing in all things? The joy in knowing that my daughter is wise enough to realize she is not ready for a (boy)friend right now and wants to focus on her relationship with God and with her friend friends? It's as if this little experience is the straw that broke the camel's back and the stress of several things I've been dealing with (family relationships, finances, overloaded schedule) all came tumbling down on me. And so at random moments, for no real reason, my eyes tear up and I'm overcome by sadness.
I've spent a good bit of time thinking about it and praying about it and I've come to the conclusion that it's a combination of the above-mentioned things, plus a realization that I really wish I could put the proverbial "brick" on my daughter's head and keep her a little girl just a while longer. She will be 16 in February and it really snuck up on me. I'm not ready, God! I think about how fast these almost 16 years have passed, and I realize I am going to blink and she will not live here anymore.
Premature empty nest syndrome, anyone?
But then I realized something very important. I can blink back my tears and turn this over to God, with a grateful heart. I can trust Him for her future and find joy in the days that she has left to live here at home with me and her daddy before venturing out into the world on her own. Or I can wallow in the sadness and miss out on everything.
I think I will choose joy.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.