Saturday, September 7, 2013
Finding Myself in a Mud Puddle
I recently found clarity in a mud puddle, a big, icky, slimy mud puddle. Seem impossible? Last week I would have thought so. After all clarity is all about the quality of clearness something (or someone) has, and we all know mud puddles are far from clear. And yet, there it was; clarity as brilliant as the most expensive diamonds and a million times more valuable.
We all find ourselves in big mud puddles at times in our lives. No I do not mean the mud puddles our children splash in, but rather the challenges and burdens that suck us down and keep us stuck as surely as any sticky bog would. At times that mud grips us so tightly we are sure we will never be free. It could be debts, or illness, or relationship issues, perhaps all three or something else entirely. It doesn’t matter what exactly it is, just that we are trapped unable to get out of this sticky mud, despair at times setting in.
I spent a lot of time stuck in my mud puddle. Struggling with illness and pain that prevented me from working put a heavy financial strain on my family. As a single mom, if I don’t work we don’t eat. My oldest child had more frequent flares of his mood disorder that left us all floundering in the mud. Issues with my own attitude and a lack of fellowship and friendship intensified feelings of being bogged down and to top it all off there has been relationship issues with extended family. Through it all I continued to home school but I lost sight of my reasons for doing so. I felt trapped in the mud of circumstance. I tried to climb out on my own to no avail. I prayed and then pouted when the prayers didn’t get answered fast enough. Sometimes I struggled so much to get out that all I succeeded in doing was getting sucked in further.
And in all that mud where is the clarity? You ask. Rest assured I am getting to that. The other day I was on the phone with my mother alternating between lamenting about my mud puddle and arguing with her. I hung up even more frustrated and stuck than ever, and started to cry. Not the feminine cry I sometimes do when watching a hallmark commercial. But the big, ugly, snot filled cry of sorrow. I was sure I was never getting out of this mud. My nine year old came and stood beside me and said, “ You said before we had to trust God. Do you?” I was a little taken aback and replied (a little too briskly) “Of course I do!” To which my son asked “Does He know that?” and he walked away.
Does God know I trust Him? What a question to ponder. Of course he knows it, I read my bible and say my prayers. But the truth was I doubt God knew it because when it comes right down to it, I didn’t trust as much as I professed. After all hadn’t I pouted when my prayers were not answered in the way and timeline I wanted? Hadn’t I gotten myself stuck further when I struggled on my own?
Psalm 40:2 says “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set me on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand”. Only He can lift me out! Without His help I will remain in that mud puddle. We have all heard of people who “pulled themselves up by the bootstraps” and got out of their mud puddle on their own. But anyone who has ever been stuck in deep mud knows that more often than not you end up leaving that boot behind and having your now sock foot stuck in the mud unless you have a hand to help pull you out. The Lord is offering that hand. So then it becomes less a question of if and a matter of when He will do so. That is answered in verse 4 “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods”. Let’s face it unless I truly put my trust in Him I am not available for His assistance. If I let my pride in being able to say “I did it myself” get in my way I will remain in this muddy puddle for who knows how much longer. I have to not just pray like I am placing a fast food order, but truly trust He will answer my cries, as a baby trusts her mother to do the same. “Be pleased, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me” Ps 40:13
Only once I reached this piece of clarity did the muddy waters begin to loosen their grip on me. Did my health suddenly improve? Did relationships instantly heal? Did the financial strain vanish? Of course not; There will always be mud puddles in life. But when you put your trust fully in the Lord you know He will hold your hand and lift you up onto solid rock allowing you to overcome them without getting stuck. No longer do I struggle to remember why I started homeschooling. That reason was brought gleaming forth through the clarity of a child’s words. I homeschool because I have so much to learn from my children.