Comfort. It is a word that draws many mental images. I imagine “The comfort of my own home” in my jammies, or some may imagine something totally different like Southern Comfort. I have very comfortable slippers I got for Christmas and yoga pants, whose comfort zap the productivity right out of me.
Last night I was more than tired and depressed. Regaining strength after a month of illness, never quite getting back to 100% self, and wrung out by zealously over-planning my day, and current month, I fell into bed before my dishes were done, and my new house cleaning checklist was all checked off. I lay there, in my comfortable bed and comfortable yoga pants, unable to sleep, wracked with aches and pains from pushing myself through the cold day. Somehow those physically comforting things did absolutely nothing for me. Well, maybe that’s relative, because it was much better than doing dishes at that point. But, I definitely felt a raw feeling inside my soul- a heaviness I couldn’t lift through my reasoning or even my prayers.
I felt alone inside, even as my happy husband and sweet son cuddled up to me (this was way before bedtime….), hugging me and assuring me of their undying love. Even those beautiful, intangible offerings were unable to lift the weight of despair as I audibly whispered out, “Jesus, help me.”
“I just feel like crying, ” I said to Caleb, but I couldn’t. I was too empty to cry. Too tired. But, deep down inside was a knowledge that those sobs were there…hidden under layers of toughness.
More hugs from the guys. But each hug made me physically hurt. I thought, “I cannot give what is needed behind those hugs.” As a mom, I know that every member of the household has specific needs that only I can meet. Tonight, they were giving “Free Hugs.” But, they reminded me of responsibilities I felt unable to fulfill.
I sent a “Mayday” prayer request text to my mom.
“Need prayer. Tired. Hurting. Feel like crying.”
Those do not go out as frequently as they used to. I used to frantically ask for prayer with every trauma or off day. Now, I have learned to unburden my heart to Jesus and not to unload on my parents or close friends or especially Facebook friends.
But, there it went. The text. And while I sought the numbing solace of Facebook, my screen went black and then my phone rang.
It was my Dad. “Hi, Honey.”
“What’s going on?”
I squeaked out my answers in a raspy, trembling voice. Telling him of all my woes, physical and emotional.
“You’re afraid of failing,” he said calmly.
Ok. That did it.
A warm feeling spread over my cold spirit like a blanket of truth. The hard calloused feeling on my heart dissolved and all the pent up tears started to silently pour over my cheeks and down my neck. I knew he didn’t know I was crying.
He was right. How could I forget my age-old foe? I thought I beat you a long time ago, Ms. Fear of Failure. I guess you got me in the back when I wasn’t looking. It had covered me with a heavy, transparent veil so thin that I couldn’t even see that it was the weight oppressing me.
Fear of letting people down. Fear of not being the wife and mother my family needs. (Why the hugs even “hurt”.) Fear of making a mistake. Fear of not accomplishing everything I have planned to do. Fear of letting down God.
Mostly….mostly, fear of not being enough for the tasks at hand, which clearly…I am not.
In the moment when I realized my weakness and my ancient foe exposed, I realized the comfort of hope in Christ was mine.
My fear of failure used to be so intense that I would lose my voice when I was faced with a very big task. Really. I thought I was past this, as I have experienced victory in Christ over this in years gone by.
There can’t be victory without a battle. There can’t be hope without distress. There can’t be comfort without a distressing pain or need.
As my father prayed for me, I was bathed in the comforting, healing and delivering power of the Holy Spirit. Fear, confusion and interestingly enough, the physical pain drained out of me, the same way that life was draining out of me minutes earlier.
The re-filling, re-charging comforting power of God poured in.
After he prayed, I thanked him. I really love my Dad and his wisdom. I thank God for letting me be his daughter.
This morning, I feel back to normal, again. The weight of the depressing fear of failure is vanquished by the love of Christ. As I drove on the frigid road to fetch a gallon of milk for my kids’ breakfast, I thanked God for direct access to my Dad.
The Holy Spirit immediately reminded me of the eternal truth. We all have direct access to our Father, God. This is a beautiful picture of our Father God reaching out to us in our desperate situations. Calling us when we were too weak to call out to him and too weak to save ourselves.
I have always been a firm believer that godly parents should mirror to children what a relationship with God is like. (Similarly, people without healthy parents experience a real loss in understand the nature of God.) My Dad and Mom did that last night, like they have a thousand times before. The God of comfort, who we have access to. We have direct access. He knows our hearts, better than we do. My Dad knew what was wrong better than I did, because God told him. That’s how God works. He speaks to us. He comforts us through others and through his love. Here are a few of my favorite passages revealing God’s power and desire to bring us comfort in our relationships with Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
2 Corinthians 1:2-4New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Why do I lay bare the details of my heart for the internet to see? Well, if any of my pain can help someone else overcome, then God gets the glory.
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