Press On Through the Ride

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18


Roller coasters. I used to love them. The loopier and faster the better. There was nothing more exciting than the ride all night bracelets at the local carnival. Riding every spinning, dropping, and swinging contraption until the rides were shut down for the night. Nothing like standing in line on a dare to conquer fears on the scariest ride in the amusement park. Anticipating the thrill of what was to come.

Today, I don’t enjoy roller coasters. Yet, I still happen to ride them. These days the roller coasters I get on are of the emotional variety. Still with that same feeling in the pit of my stomach. Still going backwards, upside down, and spinning sideways.

I am a mess. I am a wrecking ball. I must confess that I still don’t get it all.

Yep. That’s me. A mess. A wrecking ball ruled by my emotions. The emotions that resemble a roller coaster ride in my head. And for the most part, I am able to get in line and ride, all while still smiling, and in anticipation of the moment when the ride will end. But, some days, painting on a smile is just too hard. My mood is dark. My emotions get the best of me, and I ride the roller coaster all the way to the bottom. Where I am a mess. Where I just want to cry. Where I find it hard to keep from screaming!

Crying for goodness knows what. And yes, screaming at God. For what he has done and hasn’t done. For not hearing me when I cry out for help. For not providing the answers when I desperately need them.

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? Psalm 13:1-2

Well, looks like I am in good company. If the Psalms of David are any indication, then it’s likely he was riding the same roller coaster of emotions on which I find myself. Yet, he was a chosen king, a man who as a young boy defeated the largest and toughest giant, a fearless warrior, and an ancestor of Jesus. He was also a man who was hated, who was the object of fierce jealousy. Abandoned. Lonely. Jealous enough in his own spirit to commit murder. An adulterer. A mess.

And still called a man after God’s heart. Despite his tendency to scream at God. Despite his tendency to find himself trapped on a roller coaster of emotions, he pressed on. Because he knew that God could handle every single one of his emotions. Which means He can also handle mine.

Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. Psalm 55:17

Yes, God can handle my roller coaster emotions. He can handle my tears. He can handle my screaming fits. He can handle my uncertainty.

He can provide the strength to press on. Press on when I ride the highs and lows of my feelings. Press on  until I finally get off the ride, acknowledge my mess, admit I just don’t get it. He will give me strength to get off my knees, dry my tears, and turn my screams into praises.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me, he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16

Press on. When you want to cry. When you want to scream. When you just want to be alone. When you just don’t get it.

Press on. During the dark days. When the roller coaster takes a deep plunge. When you just don’t want to smile.

Press on. God can handle it. He will get you through the ride.

This Is Just The Rehearsal, Honey!

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

I don’t handle inconvenience well. Or, let me rephrase that…I don’t handle daily nuisances well. And, of course-God knows this. I mean, he is all-knowing. He knows my every thought. He knows my actions before I act. He already knows exactly how I will respond to every situation that is thrown my way.

Usually it is not with the finesse, grace, and mercy in which I should respond.

And, this morning was no exception. See, I had big plans for my day off. Plans that involved that one selfish luxury I take glory in each month-a much needed haircut. Well, that is until my daughter started getting sick. Until my son lay on the porch kicking and screaming because he WAS NOT going to school without his sister. And, until after five minutes of wrestling, shin shots, and slaps in the face, I finally just got fed up, picked up the five year old from the ground, cleaned up the sick little girl, and gave up on doing one thing remotely “selfish” for the day.

Sounds like I may have handled this with a little bit of grace and finesse, but nope. Truth is, as soon as my daughter made mere mention of the thought of needing to get sick, my thoughts and actions went into tailspin crazy! I yelled at my oldest to just get up already. I yelled at my youngest, because for once I just wanted him to pick this day to truly be “not autistic enough,” and to ride the bus alone. I cried because I knew that once again, the day would be filled with constant running back and forth to school due to said “bus” situation. And, darn it! All I wanted was a simple hair cut!

Grace? Finesse? Mercy? No. Not this morning. Anything but those.

Then I remembered a passage from the book by Wendy Blight, Living So That, one I am currently reading through Proverbs 31 Ministries on-line bible study. Just last night I had highlighted this message:

“How we handle adversity is an accurate barometer of where we are spiritually. When our barometer gives a low reading, it may be because we do not have an accurate understanding of God, or because we do not have a strong foundation in His Word. And sometimes the way God chooses to increase our barometer reading is through trials. Trials are often the only things that will drive us to our knees.”

Well, that’s a little convicting.

Because, where was I today spiritually? I think my spiritual barometer had stopped working-completely. And not once had I sought His guidance.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

And, he expects this faith and endurance in even the smallest and insignificant of trials. When the kids are sick. Again. When one child has kicked you in the shin. Again. When your plans are ruined. Again.

How I handle these small trials are a test and a glimpse into how I will handle the toughest of trials, which are sure to come. Will I turn to Him in the tough times if I can’t even seek Him in these trivial ones? Or, will I continuously lean on my own strength?

Goodness knows, each time I do, I most certainly fail!

Because this trivial stuff-this is just the rehearsal, honey!

So, instead of complaining about what went wrong today, I can seek His guidance in order to get through the rough patches.

Instead of sulking in a corner, crying into my coffee, I can open my Bible and soak myself in His Word. His promises.

Instead of cursing the moments that are made up of fights, chaos, and screaming, sick children…I can remember to embrace the moments like the one below. The ones God gives in the midst of “rough” days to remind us of His goodness!