To be honest, I thought it would. I guess I kind of grew up with the belief that being obedient to God, His will, and His word would make me happy. I’m not sure how long I’ve believed that. I’m not even sure where I got that belief from (though I could speculate it comes from reading Scripture in a self-centered way). But, I do know that this was an issue that I had to internally address during this past week, and I thought it was worth sharing.
So my daughter has been more and more and more active and irritating these past few weeks. Just being honest, dealing with her has required more and more patience, gentleness, and self-control than I ever thought I could muster for such a period of time (trust me; I know this is only the beginning). Eventually, I began thinking to myself: Why am I not as happy doing this as I was before? What happened?
Now, as I pondered these things, I began to realize that the things that I did on a day-to-day basis for my family felt more and more like work. As much as I enjoyed spending time with my daughter, reading Corduroy, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, Goodnight Moon, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? were really not that enjoyable. I was reading because she wants to hear the story and knew it was necessary for her development. But deep down inside, I can’t stand reading these stories multiple times a day. I really enjoyed cooking before, but trying to figure out what everyone will eat is more of a headache nowadays. And I never minded cleaning either, but cleaning multiple times a day because a little one has no concept of neatness or disarray is enough to make any person just throw up their hands and live with the mess.
In my pondering, I also happened to think of my husband, and what he does on a daily basis. Yeah, he works primarily outside of the home, but he still deals with our daughter wanting his complete attention as soon as he walks in the door. After waking up at 5:30 am and dealing with annoyances and frustrations on his job, he still faces expectations to be pleasant, affectionate, enthusiastic, and engaged as soon as he gets home from me and our daughter. I remembered conversations we had in the past where I was concerned that he wasn’t really happy overall, and he kept trying to explain that he was fine, just handling his responsibilities. And I remembered how I wanted his perspective to change on that….that doing things with family and at home weren’t just responsibilities, but things he really enjoyed. It bothered me so much at that time.
And fast forward to now. I completely completely understand what my husband was saying now. I get it. I feel sad for not getting it before, but I get it now. As a wife, mother, and homemaker, I have responsibilities each and every day that must be handled. Some things will be a lot easier and more fun to do than other things, and some things will require a lot out of me over a very long period of time. It is work, and unfortunately, living after the Fall of Man, my work isn’t going to be always enjoyable. That is an effect of sin. Work will often suck.
Yet, I realized that although I knew that, I still had residual feelings of “but being obedient to God changes that right?” I guess I thought that I would become the really happy and peppy stay-at-home mom who dreamed of these days for all of my life and relish every single day of caring for my home and family all while basking in the sweet presence of God each day. I mean, I’ve seen women like this before, and it got me every single time. How in the world do you do that each and every day? And shouldn’t I be more like that….isn’t that the natural progression? Won’t this become easier over time?
Well, I don’t know. I really don’t. I do know that it has become harder and harder. I know that I struggle sometimes to be creative with my daughter, between a budget and not feeling like having extra stuff to clean-up, it’s hard to drum up my enthusiasm a lot of times. At strange as it is, I’m actually researching and studying how to make sure that I’m meeting my daughter’s developmental needs just like I was in college studying for my Economics degree. I’m looking up stuff almost every day. I’m reading articles, taking tons of notes, checking out local newspapers for ideas, and lots of things. And it’s hard work! It makes me even more nervous about trying to homeschool her. God knows that I would have a hard time forgiving myself if she was ever behind in school or couldn’t meet basic requirements. I mean, I’m already looking at curriculums, and she’s only 18 months old! I’m nervous, and it’s hard!
So, no, I am not convinced that this is suddenly going to become a complete breeze for me. I don’t think that God is going to magically change my personality one day so that I become the Christian woman whose only dream was to take care of her ever-growing family. Thinking about Christ, I just don’t imagine going to the cross and bearing the wrath of God had Him skipping down the road to the crucifixion site, even though He knew it was God’s will. Thinking about Paul, I don’t the shipwreck, the beatings, being stoned, the snakebite, or the imprisonments were in the least bit pleasurable for him. In fact, considering the testimonies of any of the saints of old, I don’t think that the will of God for their lives was always enjoyable, nor was it always what they would have personally chosen to do.
Personally speaking, obeying God throughout my life has increased my overall joy, but I have endured some really hard and unhappy moments/seasons throughout the years. Now, I know some people believe that if you aren’t happy, then it must not be God’s will for your life. And you know, that is a downright lie and incredibly deceptive. Scripture does not support that belief at all, but people apply that belief in random circumstances all the time. Consider the kinds of conversations people have with good-intentioned friends and family during a really rough time in their marriage. Now, I’m sure I could find plenty of support for using that belief as a means to put my daughter in daycare and restart my career. But, could that belief be equally used for my husband to quit his job, stop supporting us, and watch ESPN all day? Would he find the same amount of support I would for choosing to not handle my responsibilities anymore and do what makes me happier? I’m thinking that probably wouldn’t happen…lol!
So I’m writing all this primarily for my own personal record keeping. When I start to forget things, I like coming back to my own blog and reading about the things that I have come to understand, but occasionally forget in the heat of the moment. But I’m also writing this for anyone who happens to come across this and read it to the end. God’s will for your life does not mean that every day will be happy. It doesn’t mean that you will always be happy doing what He requires of you to do. You may really feel like you’re not living up to your highest potential trying to obey God all the time. It very well may mean that things are a LOT harder for you personally just trying to obey Him. And no, you don’t have to walk around miserable and in a self-righteous pity-party because you feel like you deserve some recognition for sticking it out this far in the journey of obedience.
But you can live and walk in the knowledge that God sees everything, and nothing escapes His eye. You can be completely assured that His grace will be more than sufficient for you to live in obedience every single day of your life, if you humble yourself and submit to Him. You can have a confident belief in the fact that Christ, knowing perfectly well how difficult it was for Him to always walk in obedience to God every day of His earthly life, is always interceding for you in heaven so that you can live a holy and blameless before God. And finally, you can plainly know that you don’t walk this Christian life alone. For every difficulty, circumstance, and tear you shed, you have a brother or sister in Christ who has walked a very similar path, but who has made it to the finish line. No, being in the will of God will not always make you momentarily happy, but it will add to your joy and give you a hope that is resting and secured in Christ. And that hope will never cause you to be ashamed.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverance. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him… (Hebrews 5:7-9)
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
I pray you remain encouraged, even when it’s hard and difficult, to keep walking this journey of obedience to God and submitting to His perfect will. Trust me, as I am still walking and discovering for myself, you will always find grace and receive mercy whenever you need it in Him.