Cast All Your Cares .... September 20, 2016

This Sunday I will turn 49 years old.   Wrinkles are steadily appearing along with an abundance of gray hair. That being said, I truly do not feel my age and even though I need bifocal glasses for my vision, my spiritual eyes seem to have actually improved.  I am learning the difference between perception and reality.  Let me try to explain  . . . 

Motherhood has been the biggest earthly blessing in my life.  There was a time I was not sure I would ever be a mother; I struggled with infertility.  But God answers prayers and in 1995 I finally became a mommy when I adopted my oldest daughter (that is a story for another time). Being mother, well actually life in general is a roller coaster ride; full of ups and downs; times of overwhelming joy and times of sadness.  It is a bit messy at times, but raising children is fun and filled with humorous moments that create a family. 

There are some things that are just hard for a mommy to watch.  I have had my fair share of trips to the emergency room with my kids, especially Phillip.  We are our children’s superheroes when it comes to ER visits.  Never leaving their side and never looking away.  Watching a child suffer in any way is extremely painful to a momma’s heart.  When Phillip had his first seizure, I can remember thinking whatever happens next, I am going through it with him.  My eyes will stay on him, no matter how badly I want to close them out of fear.  I remember telling myself to look past everything else and look straight into his eyes.  Parenting is not for the weak at heart.  The truth is that as parents we will have to do and watch things we wish we could avoid.  Sometimes we even have to let go.  I am not sure I am ready for my oldest to get married, but that day will come.  Those are the moments where happiness and sadness meet.  We want those moments for our children.  We want them to experience what we have experienced, but it also means they are taking a little piece of our heart with them. 

The role of a mother is something very special and, indeed, a blessing from God.  In reality, a woman can be many things to many people.  I am a daughter, granddaughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, homemaker, and teacher.  That stresses me out just typing it and I am sure I have forgotten something I need to do for one of them today.  Each of these roles creates an area in my life that tugs at my heart.  When my mom hurts, I hurt.  When my kids are struggling, I struggle.  They all rely on me and after awhile that reliability can start to weigh me down.  Some women carry that weight so easily and make it look so easy.  Perception versus reality.  There are some women who never cry and some women who easily cry.  That does not make one strong and the other weak.  Psalm 139:14 says “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works…”.  He created us to be individuals with our own journey.  I have learned not to assume that just because a mother in the school car line has make up on and her hair done that she has no stress in her life.  Perception versus reality. What do I do when I am feeling weighted down?  Where do I go when I feel like the load is too much for me to carry?          

Let me share something very personal.  A few years ago, I had a hard time hearing women talk about the cross like it was beautiful.  I had watched Passion of the Christ.  I knew the gory details of the crucifixion.  How could anyone look at the cross without seeing pain and suffering?  I love beauty and I seriously wanted to see what they were seeing.  I wanted to look through the lenses of their eyes.  These friends would encourage me during rough times to take my fears and burdens to the cross and leave them at the feet of Jesus.  I always try to truthfully share my life with you and the truth was that the cross scared me.  It was not a place I liked to visit in my mind.  How could I dump my fears and problems concerning my family at a place of absolute horror?

There was a week when everything in my life seemed to be beyond hard.  I could hear their words “lay it all at the cross” over and over in my head.  I had even read the words in numerous books.  1 Peter 5:7 says “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you”. I truly wanted to believe that there was a place I could cast all my burdens.  So being the visual learner that I am, I tried something I used to use with my kids when they had nightmares.  I would tell them to close their eyes and create a beautiful story until they fell asleep.  So I closed my eyes and envisioned every single piece of emotional baggage I was holding on to and every single fear that was consuming my joy.  I saw myself slowing walking up the hill to the cross that once held my Jesus.  It was an emotional journey.  With every step up that dusty, rock-filled path, the Lord opened the eyes of my heart a little wider.  With every step the cross became more about love and less about loss.  God did not create us with the ability to handle everything. If He had, we wouldn’t need Him. He created us in His image and gave us everything we need, which includes a desire for Him.  As I reached the cross, I handed every burden, every problem, every concern and worry over to Him with a prayer.  It is not easy to let go of the pieces of our life where we need help, it means we are surrendering control.  Most of them include our family and friends and that makes us very protective - sometimes overprotective.  Was I trusting God or pretending to trust God?  Perception vs. Reality.  It felt different to actually see myself physically handing them over to Christ.  It felt safe.  It felt loving.  From that moment, I viewed the cross very differently.  Yes, I know the reality of the events that happened on Calvary, but I also know why they happened and who I met there.

Today, I am more equipped to see the beauty in the middle of hardship.  Taking myself on an up close and personal journey to the cross helped me to see the cross in a whole new way.  Personal is the key.  My relationship with anyone is personal and it is the same with Christ.  Just like it is hard for me to watch my children suffer, so is it for God with His children.  That’s me!  Just like I never took my eyes off Phillip, He never takes His eyes off me.  This journey helped me to feel confident that God wins every time.  Not sometimes, every time. If He can win over sin, he can win over anything, including my battles.  The cross does not represent death, it represents eternal life.  How do I feel about leaving my family concerns at the cross with God; the same family that means everything to me and who God gave to me?  I feel that the cross is the best place because it is the place and turning point where God called His only son, His family, home.  Christ is the perfect person to leave my cares with and the cross is the perfect place.  You see it is all about perception.  Originally, I perceived the cross to be about brutality.  However, reality is the cross is about love - the love and sacrifice of a parent. 

Let me leave you with this thought.  The Passion of the Christ is an intense movie.  It was extremely difficult for me to watch.  There was one moment in the movie that touched my heart and shifted my focus for a moment.  Mary’s eyes never left her son.  No matter what Jesus experienced, she was there with open eyes.  As brutal as it was for her to watch, she never abandoned.  I connected with her in that moment.  I understood her strength. I understood why her eyes stayed open.  There is nothing that can stand between a mothers’ love for her child and there is nothing that can stand between you and the cross.  It is not easy for God to see His children struggle just like it is not easy for parents to watch their children struggle.  The amazing gift is that God never abandons.  He gave us His son.  He gave us the cross and he gave us the Holy Spirit that lives within us when we know Him.  He does not close His eyes to this world.  He created a place where we could come at any time and leave Him with what we cannot handle.  He brought His son home and saved us in the process!  Thank you Father God for opening the eyes of my heart and helping me see the reality of the cross.