Ironically, my last two encouragement letters have focused on 1) remaining grateful in all circumstances, and 2) turning our “But I trusted you” thoughts toward God into a “I still trust you” mentality. When writing those two letters, never would I have imagined our world would be in the situation it’s in today.
As I sit here in my home, confined to these walls, attempting to balance my work responsibilities and the wants and needs of my small children, I am reminded of these two concepts: being grateful in all circumstances and trusting God. Two things, right now, that might be challenging considering what our society is currently facing.
Atop of our living room bookshelf is a small collection of books acquired over the years, passed down from my great-grandmother, to my grandmother, to my father, and now to me. They are some of the few things in our house that are neatly arranged (remind you…two kids in the household). The covers are worn out and many of the pages are torn, some dog-eared. Many of the paragraphs are underlined by my great-grandmother’s very recognizable shaky hand.
Fifteen years ago, these books might not have even taken a place in my closet, but now they are among some of my most prized possessions. The underlined and marked paragraphs in my grandmother’s old books mostly seem to have one subject in common – worry.
I wish I could count the times I’ve reached for one of these books during a period of stress and thumbed through until finding one of her underlined paragraphs – although she is gone, she still has a way to reassure me. The words never fail to provide direction. Great-grandmother Sims was a master worrier. And maybe she had good reason, being a widower at a very early age with four children to raise during a time when the fate of the whole word was very much in question. But she died a fulfilled woman because of her faith, courage, and a constant desire to combat her fears.
“When faith, rather than fear, becomes your obsession, you will master worry,” said Mr. Peale in a paragraph underlined by my great-grandmother.
Throughout these last couple of weeks as we have seen and experienced great worry, these words have continued to play in my head. How easy it is to worry. How easy it is to allow the uncertainty of our present situation consume our life. How easy it is to allow the enemy to overtake our joy and replace it with fear, anxiety, and depression.
But for me and my house…we remain faithful. We seek this moment to grow together as a family. We seek ways to encourage and uplift others. We seek opportunities to teach our children peace and patience in the midst of adversity and that our God always supplies our every need. And we seek the comfort, wisdom, and truth only revealed through the grace that our God is attempting to reveal to us as we wait for this to be over.
From page 182 of Mr. Peale’s book Stay Alive All Your Life is a paragraph I believe my great grandmother used as her motto:
“Everybody really knows what to do to have his life filled with joy. What is it? Quit hating people; start loving them. Quit being mad at people; start liking them. Quit doing wrong; quit being filled with fear. Quit thinking about yourself but do something for other people. Everybody knows what you have to do to be happy. But the wisdom of the text lies in these words. ‘If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them’ (John 13:17 [KJV]).”
One thing I remind my kids often is “stuff that might happen in the future can’t happen now, because we’re in the present, not the future. The trick is to focus on what’s happening in this moment.”
My prayer for each of us this month, as we face trying and uncertain days, is don’t forget to live in the moment. Even now there is good, even now there is life to be lived, and even now is a moment to which you have the opportunity to be grateful.
You can do this.
Until next time,