My children woke up yesterday morning to a world blanketed in snow – something that only comes once or twice a year for this southern family!
You can imagine the excitement that my children were barely containing as they crammed down homemade cinnamon buns! (I only make those for special occasions – like snow days.) We had barely cleared the breakfast table before they were putting on layers of clothing, snow boots, coats, hats, and gloves. They could hardly wait to get out their new sleds and fly down the icy streets in our neighborhood.
We headed out to play in the snow – all of us, save one (who doesn’t want me to post any pictures of her here). Sadly, my oldest child was stuck inside, home-bound thanks to the respiratory flu that was causing her to convulse with coughing and sneezing. Her fevers ran high all week, so it just wasn’t a good idea to have her out in the wet and cold.
I understood her disappointment and offered her everything she could possibly want – inside the house. She could play on my phone. She could watch any movie she wanted. We would play board games. I would come back and bake cookies for her. She could take pictures from the window. But nothing could satisfy her. Her wails pierced our snowy fun as she stood by the window and sobbed in disappointment at the unfairness of missing the first (and possibly only) snow of the year.
Honestly, I didn’t stay outside very long because I just couldn’t enjoy the snow as much knowing that all of my children weren’t enjoying it with me. Sure, the other two were laughing, throwing snowballs at me, and rolling in the snow. But all I could see was the one left behind, the one who couldn’t find joy despite having everything she could possibly need, the one who was consumed with grief longing for something she couldn’t have.
God often uses my children to magnify my own sin! How like them I can be! Despite having a comfortable home, a loving husband, a wonderful family, and all of my needs met, I sometimes find myself acting like my daughter – standing at the window of the world and wailing over the things that I can’t have. Just as the snow would not have been good for my daughter’s health, the things I desire may not be good for my own well-being.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” – Matt. 6:31-33.
My first priority, the “thing” I long for the most, should be God’s kingdom and righteousness. I should be seeking to do His will. But being a part of this world takes its toll some days, and the pleasures of this life can easily lead me astray.
So how can I pull my focus back on the things that matter? The things that draw me closer to my Savior and help me long for the things that are eternal?
1. Meditate on God’s Word. Before I even start the day, I need to put on my armor against Satan’s “charms.”
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” – Eph. 6:10-13.
I know that when I have taken the time to spend time with God before I head out into the world, I am more focused on His will for my day. But when I skip my time with Him, my day is much less satisfying because I am chasing after my own desires instead of His.
2. Count my blessings. Sometimes, when I am trapped for days on end in a small house with crazy children who need to play outside, I start coveting other people’s lives. It’s easy to be on Facebook and to see homes with full basements, where the kids can go play while Mommy enjoys her coffee in the quiet kitchen. I can focus on the families who send their children to school all day and wonder if God has truly called me to homeschool – despite the lengthy conversations my husband and I have had and the decisions we have made for our family. I can see all of the vacation pictures and long for our own vacation.
I can be thankful that I have a smaller home to clean, so I can spend more time with my children. I can be thankful that I have the opportunity to be there when my struggling learner finally grabs onto a new concept. I can be thankful that my husband has a job that allows him to spend time with us – even if we can’t afford a vacation whenever (or wherever) we want.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” – Ps. 103:2.
3. I can focus on others. There are so many people around me who are struggling with much worse things than I am. Some of my friends are chronically ill and unable to even leave home without pain; others are unable to make ends meet and struggle just to keep a roof over their heads; some are struggling with infertility or are in the difficult days of waiting to adopt their children; and others are reeling from the loss of a loved one. We all have struggles in this world! So I know that there are countless opportunities to pray for someone besides myself, to take a meal to a hurting friend, to call and talk to someone who needs a listening ear, or to babysit (for free) in order to give a fellow mom a break.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” – Gal. 6:2.
Do you ever find yourself acting like my daughter – looking out on the world and longing for things you can’t have? It’s an easy place to be, but you don’t have to live there!
Just like a parent who hurts when their child can’t find joy in staying inside the house, God longs for us to find joy where He has placed us right now. He cares for each one of us and hurts when we hurt!
Turn away from the window and look around at what you do have! It may be that the things you long for will be yours some day, but you don’t have to waste your life waiting on them! Enjoy what the Lord has given you now because you don’t know if you will have tomorrow.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” – James 4:14.