I am weary.
Yes, life is good, in the sense that, at any given time, I can list a dozen things for which I am deeply grateful. I am still able to view the world and my circumstances through the eyes of a poet. I can rejoice in sunshine and birdsong, and find good even in sleep deprivation and strained friendships.
But it takes a lot of effort. Someone recently told me that I've been a drag, and although it stung that she would say it, it didn't surprise me. I am literally dragging. It must not be pleasant to be around.
In some ways, I'm okay that she felt that way. I want to be alone. I crave solitude and stillness in which to quiet my soul, listen, receive nourishment from God and the good gifts with which He has surrounded me.
But her dig also came packaged with the insidious suggestion that I should just choose happiness. “Just choose.”
Well, I wanted to say, I've been choosing. It's gotten to be dreadfully difficult work, this choosing. I've been choosing and choosing and choosing. I spent the better part of a year listing over one thousand gifts. I've prayed away anxiety more times in the last couple of years than I can count. I've read Scripture when it seemed bone dry, searching for consolation and guidance. I've chosen music to minister to my spirit. I've read book after book on depression and perimenopause and Christian cheerfulness. I've talked to friends and asked for prayer.
And I'm still weary.
But you know what? When I'm tired beyond my bones, into the depths of my spirit, and my children need me, I get up and go to them. When I'm exhausted and longing for peace and quiet, and the buzzer rings to tend supper or change the laundry, I get up and take care of it. When I can't remember the last time I had enough sleep, and the alarm clock jolts me out of the only complete respite available to me, I get up and start my day. When I'd rather sleep just twenty more minutes, I shower and go to my Bible.
When my children's sweet piping voices pierce my eardrums and threaten my sanity, I (usually) smile and answer calmly.
When an anticipated weekend away unexpectedly falls through, I trust that God has better plans for me.
When a friend's “counsel” sounds accusatory, I believe the best of her intentions and thank her.
When one appliance after another needs repairs, I smile and thank God for a skilled husband and the money for parts.
When a friend incomprehensibly turns vitriolic toward me, I seek restoration.
When the children beg for Christmas decorations and I feel less than jolly, I bring down the box and make room for Christmas (and let them use those awful multicolored lights again).
When the internet connection becomes unreliable for over a month, I read & crochet & play my forgotten guitar.
When the car threatens to leave me stranded in the middle of my errands, I change my plans and head home early.
I am choosing happiness, I truly am. It just might not look quite the way you think it should.
And as much as I would love to end by quoting Scripture, what actually comes to mind is one of my all-time favorite quotes, credited to Philo of Alexandria (whoever he was): "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." Which, come to think of it, is not all that different from Jesus himself saying (in Matthew 7:12) that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated.
A friend told me recently that "her" verse had changed as one season of her life began to segue into the next. When I first got on facebook, I posted Galatians 6:9 in that little box that used to be under the profile picture on my own page, so that I would see it frequently and benefit from the exhortation: "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." While that verse is still very real to me, a different verse comes to my mind often of late:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Jesus says these words at the end of chapter 11 of Matthew. The chapter starts with John the Baptist, then in prison, sending disciples to ask Jesus if He is really the Messiah. I think this ending clinches it.
Jesus saves - from sin, from sickness, from soul-weariness.
I am ready for some rest.