“Hold still, Mom.” my youngest daughter said as she retrieved an eyelash from my cheek. “Make a wish!” she said happily. “I wish I were happy.” I thought to myself. Gut check. Did I really just think that? (Thankfully the rule is that if you say your wish out loud, it won’t come true.) Then another voice came. ” I know why you aren’t happy.”, it said. I knew too, but I was still placing the blame elsewhere at this point.
I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life. Add in turning 40, moving to a new state, two out of five children growing up and leaving the nest, and no local friends for this “I’m always the hostess” ala Monica Geller type gal, and anyone could see a break down coming from a mile away.
If you know me in real life, you know that I have a thing with words. Words I love, words I HATE, (I’m talking to you, chunky.) and special words that God gives me to ponder on and cling to for a season. These words stick around for years and you, dear reader, are even a part of what God is still doing though my last word, breathe. My new word showed up about two weeks ago with no reason or explanation. I’ve been keeping it a secret thinking there’s no way God could be moving me on. Breathe is a LIFE word for me. Walk around our home and you can’t miss it. I don’t really want another word. Plus, why would He give me something new without telling me what it meant? Well… He was waiting until I was ready. Isn’t that just like him?
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments an abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15: 5-11
When I think of what it really looks like to abide in Christ, I think back to when I first gave my life to Him. I was 14. It felt like having a new boyfriend, only better. That desire to be in constant communication. Sneaking my Bible out during class so I could read just a little bit more. I was so hungry to know Him. I am thankful for that time. I learned a lot back then and it prepared me for the future ministry God had for me. Beginnings can be magical, but I think what comes after can be even more enduring. Abiding is more like an old married couple, knowing each other completely and loving each other deeply. Having a history of high peaks and deep dark valleys means there’s a trust there. Relationships either deepen or die through desperation. I’ve seen that in my marriage and also in my relationship with Christ. (sometimes, simultaneously) Choosing to stick it out and abide is like rolling to the middle of the bed even after you’ve had an argument. It takes effort.
Choosing to stick it out and ABIDE is when the joy shows up.
Abiding in His love makes our joy complete. So even on days when you wish you were happy, you know that the true test of how good your life is, comes from the JOY you’ve been given because you have chosen to abide. May there be fruit seen in our lives and joy felt in our hearts as we choose to abide in Him today.