Thursday, January 16, 2014

New year, same laundry

I think by this point it's officially too late to be saying Happy New Year. I mean, the year hasn't been new for two weeks now. New year, old news, right?

Naomi partied it up til 1am without a problem at a church event. I think she knew that if she was getting the chance to stay up, she'd better take advantage of it. And did she ever!! She was wide awake, but you better believe when we laid her down in bed around 1:30 am, she was knocked. out. Lil' girl wore herself (and her parents!) out!
Our tired little family post-church New Year's bash.
To be honest, it didn't even feel much like a new year to me. I think when you still have to change diapers and feed and console a crying baby the day feels pretty, well, ordinary. Plus there were loads of laundry that had built up into monstrous heaps that threatened to eat the laundry room, kitchen and dining room alive. Oh, and me, too. 2014 greeted me with 2013's dirty laundry.

With it came the attitude.

Seriously, who is in a good mood when they're doing laundry!?, to be honest. I don't usually mind sorting, and washing and drying. When it all needs to be put away, that's another story. On THIS day though, New Year's Day, I wasn't happy about the laundry. For some reason I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and wasn't altogether pleased that this motherhood thing doesn't afford you a day off. So off I went to do my daily thing of taking care of my sweet girl and the household. I grumbled grumbled grumbled inside myself about how just when the laundry seems to be done, it needs to be done all over again! *sigh* Such is life. And there's just nothing like starting out the new year with stuff from the previous year! Granted, it was just the day before, but c'mon, can't it just disappear??

It isn't just physical things like laundry that follow us into new days and months and years. Things like attitudes and bad habits have a way of creeping right along with us. Sometimes we know it; other times it has become so ingrained in us that we don't even realize the negative changes that have become a part of who we are. We go about our days and then it hits us out of nowhere--since when have I been doing/saying that? How long have I been neglecting this? When did that end up at the bottom of my priority list? Just like the new year sometimes seems to hit us out of nowhere, so does the realization that we've been carrying things along with us, bad thins, negative things for a while now and we wonder how in the world we ended up in this place. We then (well let me not say "we"--I know I can do it) I can end up getting frustrated with myself. I mope, and then that grumbling starts again, and I wonder how in the world am I supposed to persevere to the end when I can hardly keep up with everything in a year?

I think we tend to notice these things at the New Year more because it seems to be a bigger milestone than a day or month. After all, we celebrate birthdays after a year, right? (Though it would be pretty fantastic to have a birthday party every year. Gifts galore! Or, if you're a fatty, I mean, foodie like me, that might mean going-out-to-eat galore.) I feel like I write the same thing every year, but that's because every year the same is true. His mercies are new. And His mercies aren't simply new every YEAR, praise Jesus. they are new every DAY. Every day we are given is a milestone. Every day is a new beginning. Every day is another opportunity the Lord has given to rely on His grace more than we did the day before. And if I really break it down, it's really moment-by-moment grace and mercy.

Something else I can often forget is this: It is God who works within you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. We're only two weeks into the year, but I can't begin to count the amount of times the Holy Spirit has gently reminded me of this Scripture. He is doing the work in me, not me in myself! I also need to remember that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ! Why do I weigh myself down with self-reliance? Why do I depend on myself to please God? I need God to please God. I overwhelm myself at the beginning of the year with all these things I must do to serve and honor God with my life, and at the end of the year I overwhelm myself with self-condemnation for not completing everything I burdened myself with. I say it again: I need God to please God. My bestest recently reminded me of passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 that is so often quoted:

So many commands!! If you're like me, you may have recited these over and over in your head, beating yourself up for not being able to follow these clearly written directions. If you go to verse 24, you can see that we are missing a big part ALL of what we need in order to be able to do these things in our lives!

I know I just wrote it above, but I think this needs to be re-stated with some emphasis. HE who calls you is FAITHFUL; HE will surely DO IT! This is quoted much less often yet it is pivotal in our understanding of how we do these things God commands us. We allow Him to do the work in us...through us!! In and of ourselves we are incapable of being who God created us to be. I can't be the wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend that I'm called to be when I'm doing it on my own! I can have all the good intentions in the world and fail. And fail. And fail. Remember how I was talking about the laundry? It can be just like that. I try and try to keep up with the wash. And it just. keeps. building. up.

And ya know what? The laundry will build up at times. Sometimes we'll find it piling up more often than not. Sometimes we will turn around and find that we've wallowed and steeped ourselves into negative, damaging habits that have hurt our relationship with Christ, with our spouse, with our children, family members, friends. The amazing and grace-filled thing is this: At the time we notice that laundry, that mess, that dirt? At the time the Holy Spirit, through His Word, opens our clouded eyes to see the baggage we've been hanging onto that we're meant to let go of? That is the same time He extends His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness. Please don't forget, friends, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

My goal this year is to redeem--make the best use of--the time I'm given. Life is so short! So I don't want to waste time dwelling on why I did so much wrong yesterday. As the Lord shows me, I want to conform to His will and move forward. Instead of wasting precious moments in self-condemnation, I want to dwell in His daily sufficient grace.

New mercies each day. New mercies each year.