Is the Joy of the Lord my Strength?

Sometimes I find myself in this place within my own head that I just can’t seem to explain. It’s a place where I’m lost, confused, and frustrated at everything around me. I see people in my life, weather close friends and family or just mere acquaintances, who seem to have life all figured out. Their path is clear. Goals are being accomplished and dreams are being realized.

Then there is me. Here I am in Grad school working on a degree with no real picture of what I’m going to even begin to do with it.  Sure I’m only in my 1st semester but this is Grad school after all.  Shouldn’t I know where I’m going? Shouldn’t I have some idea of why I’m spending thousands of dollar each year for educational purposes?

It’s not that I’m not happy for those in my life who seem to be going places.  It’s just that I would love to actually be moving along with them. It’s as if everyone else is on an escalator that is moving right on up and there I am standing in the middle of the broken one waving as people pass me by.

   With this in mind, I hoped that by attending the “Art of Homemaking” conference and hearing the valuable wisdom from some amazing women I would finally be able to answer some of my own questions as to what’s next.  Instead I left even more confused than when I began.

In the first plenary session (the first session where everyone who attended the entire conference, for those like me who didn’t know what “plenary” meant) Michelle Duggar spoke about making your house a “teaching center” for your family. She began by sharing with us a chart on valuable character qualities that you can find here. From this chart she shared with us what she believes should be the top 3 character qualities that mothers should have and put into practice to accomplish the goal of the home as a teaching center.

These qualities are:
      Love vs. Selfishness
      Meekness vs. Anger
     Joyfulness  vs. Self-Pitty
As I sat and listened to this incredibly soft spoken sweet woman I thought to myself  “Easy for you to say, lady. I’m sure there isn’t even a single angry bone in your body.”  Then I realized that I don’t practice any of those character traits when it comes to my children or my husband. Far to often I let my anger get the best of me. Could this be a reason why I’m still so stuck?
She finished the first session by describing the 3 character qualities that children should be learning as well. As I listened, yet again I realized that I’m not doing a very good job training my children in these particular traits. Now, to their defense they are only 3 and 1 years old but the question is am I teaching them what they need to know on these important issues?  What are these 3 traits, you ask?
Well here ya go:
     Attentiveness vs. Unconcern
     Obedience vs. Willfulness
     Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence
This, of course, led me to think to myself that it is no wonder I have no direction. If I can’t even instill basic qualities in myself and my children how am I ever going to be able to go any further? As I thought about the rest of Michelle’s talk I remembered her telling a story about standing in the middle of her laundry room late one night with dirty clothes all around here crying because she just didn’t know how she was going to be able to take anymore (they only had 7 children at the time). She told us that she found herself crying out to God with tears streaming down her face. The song she was singing out was this: 
The joy of the LORD is my strength
The joy of the LORD is my strength
The joy of the LORD is my strength
Oh, the joy of the LORD is my strength.
And I realized I’m doing to much on my own. No wonder I have no direction. Is the joy of the Lord my strength? Am I trying to drive this bus? Most people who know me will know I like control. Perfectionism by nature I like to have things done my way. 
So in the end I realized that instead of watching where others around me lives are going and focus more on letting God be in the drives seat. If there is one thing that I need to remember the most at this point in my life it would be this:  
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future
Jeremiah 29:11
If I allow the joy of the Lord to be my strength and I learn to let go of the reigns just a bit those simple character traits Michelle Duggar spoke of will come naturally. And maybe, just maybe I will finally be able do discover the direction and plans God has in store for me. God knows the plans he has for me, and while I often times wish they were similar to the plans He might have for those around me, I know that the plans form me are going to be something special. I also know that I have to sit back and be patient as I go through this first step of seminary before I can really begin to see what those plans might be.

Do you ever feel like everyone else is passing you by while you are stuck in one place? How do you get through that time?
What are some character traits you think are important for mothers to have? What about for children?
Let me know what you think!


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