I apologize for not writing in some time. Holiday season is a tough time to be in retail, and it makes my free time few and far between. And the free time I do have has a couch calling out to me with a mug of hot cocoa and a movie I've already seen a gazillion times.
I'm so tired, it's not even funny. I'm not getting enough sleep, and even when I get a full 8 hours, it feels like I haven't gotten any. It's increasingly more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings to get to work...particularly with these holiday hours. And if all of my on calls are used next week, which I'm anticipating they will be, I'll be working 50 next week. And my second job wanted me to work an extra shift next week on top of that (to which I had to decline). It wouldn't be so bad if it was all at one job. But getting up really early in the morning to work one job, and hopping on a bus to work until night at a 2nd job is really taking its toll on me. In only a couple more weeks, Christmas will be over. I hate that I am not enjoying the season as I should be and that I'm losing focus on what it's all about. But these customers really wear me out....because it certainly doesn't help that customers try to convince me of what a horrible person I am just because they can't remember that Christmas is always on December 25th.
Our Christmas program at church is in a couple of weeks. I'm part of the singing ensemble, I'm part of a drama, and I'm singing a solo. I'm trying to memorize it all, remembering if I should harmonize here or there, who I speak my lines after, and not mixing up the words with "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" with "Oh Great Light of the World." I was practicing my solo with Scott and between being embarrassed that I hadn't memorized the song yet, and that I still am not comfortable with the key it's in, and the frog in my throat, I wanted to just sit there and cry. I got in the car with Wes after practice and said "I did awful" convinced that the guy who is playing guitar for me who knows music is going to regret letting me sing, especially when practice is followed by the question of "so how do you think practice went?" (you know that question that's asked rather than coming out and saying "yeah, you didn't do so great." But that's no one's fault but my own). But how did it go? Umm, in a nutshell? Just kick me out of the program now. It will save everyone a lot of trouble. But all I could say was "it's getting there," silently hoping that the words might be true. It's not that the Christmas program is too much to handle. Hardly. I've memorized and sung way more than this before due to being a vocal music major in high school, so this is not beyond me at all. I just don't sing much anymore, particularly after I had a hurtful experience in a previous church that had me packing up and hiding my vocal chords. This is the first time in several years I'll be doing a solo and I'm terrified I'll be going through a deja vu.
And then there's all the school stuff...just not believing in myself. Believing I'll fail public speaking and I haven't even attended orientation yet! Freaking out about the possibility of feeding a live rat or mouse to a snake in herpeculture. I don't mind snakes at all, in fact I quite like them, but I truly love rodents.
Why am I experiencing so much self doubt lately? I keep telling myself that I can rise above this all. But I feel broken down and defeated. What should be a joyous time of year is becoming quite a trying one...and they're obstacles that seem somewhat trivial. But when they're one right after another, it's enough to make me want to sleep away the entire season. Todd preached a message last month on being joyful in our trials and the message has replayed in my mind over and over again. I recently asked God to help me find that joy.
Then last week we took Eggnog to the vet and discovered his bladder stone is gone. Our baby is not crying out in pain every few minutes just to use the bathroom and he's gaining back the weight he lost. This stone was too big to pass on his own and yet it's not in his little body. Our vet smiled big at us and said "Merry Christmas." In the middle of so many little things going wrong, God gave us a Christmas miracle.
It's been a daily battle for me here to not give in. It has helped me to keep thinking back to last Thursday when I nuzzled Eggnog and told him over and over again how happy I was for him. And tonight, I picked up Mocha and whispered to him "just be with me, I'm so worn down." As if he knew what I said, he kissed my nose, plopped down on my chest, and promptly fell asleep, breathing in and out with my arm wrapped around him. It was 20 minutes of peace.
These aren't exactly the examples of joy that are being referred to in James when he says "consider it all joy." But it was like God was providing a very tangible way for me to reflect on it. It's really hard to find my confidence, let alone joy, in the midst of all this self doubt....especially when I know the problem is with me. It's not some external problem that can be solved so I don't have to deal with it. But I know God will use this time so that when I look back, I can remember how God pulled me through. And I know God will use this time to mold me and to have me grow in Him. There is joy in that.
And really, I'm excited about the Christmas program. It has helped me maintain some level of sanity in the midst of a season I hate to work.
"Consider it all joy." I'm really trying.