With all the change and the challenges in the last 3 months, I caught myself throwing a party. The kind of party you want everyone join you in, but it is the exact kind of party that no one wants join. I think planning of this party started when the honeymoon period of all this change started to wear off. The grace I was happy to extend was waning. It had been almost three months and it was still just as hard, or harder, than when this all began. I was frustrated. I wanted things to be different. My strength was wearing out and I feel like nothing was getting better. I was planning my own pity party. I started thinking of all the reasons to throw this party:
- This was hardest thing I had ever done and I want it to be over, but there is no end date in sight.
- We can't do things that normal families do.
- I am going at this alone - no husband to help.
- It is messy - physically and metaphorically (my house smells like boys and I don't know what I am doing half the time).
- I am tired of people telling me that this is just how their kids act or they know how I feel.
- My friends are still trying figure out how to help and be around so this feels quite lonely.
- This is all quite different than I expected.
After I started throwing this miserable party that no one was attending, the Lord was good to come in correct some things.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I don't think James is telling us to count the pain and suffering of our trial as joy. No I think he is telling us that the fact that we are enduring a trial is proof that God loves us. He is crafting us to look more like him. We can rest in knowing that this hardship, whether it is from obedience or disobedience, is to shape us to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. I can take joy in the fact that when this is over or if this ever gets easier, I will look more like Jesus.- James 1:2-4
James also points out that our trials are of various kinds. Everyone's trials are different. They have to be because we are different. I start feeling sorry for myself when I compare my trials to someone else's. I start thinking that their's is easier or shorter or at least they have a husband to help, etc. But this verse shows me that my trials are designed specifically for me. God has chosen them for me. They are my trials, given to me to make me look more like Christ. Each person is given different trials to make us perfect and complete - whether it is foster kids, an illness that may become terminal, an unexpected pregnancy, the death of a family member, the loss of a job, etc. The truth is, for me your trials may be easier or harder, but they wouldn't make me look more like Christ. And my trials might be easier or harder for you to handle, but that is not what will make you look more like Christ. He is glorified in our weakness, so of course our trials are going to bring out what is weakest in us, but this is for our good. Our trials are specifically chosen for us by our Creator who knows what is best for us, in order that we may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing and that He may get the glory for it.
Over the past week, as I have stopped feeling sorry for myself, stopped comparing, and started leaning in just a little more. Things have gotten easier. My circumstances have not changed - in fact this week a bunk bed ladder was thrown across a room - but my outlook has changed and a little bit of joy creeps in every now and then. I take joy knowing that I am not alone and that because of this one day I will look more like Jesus.