“Hallelujah, we are free to struggle, we’re not struggling to be free.” –Tenth Avenue North

It’s time to admit that I struggle.  I have admitted it before, but I think most days I just get up, say my prayers, try to admit my worries and surrender them, read the allotted chapter out of my Bible, and call it good.  And I’ve done that long enough now that I’m due for a really good cry and a lot of journaling.  Admittedly, today is the last day of Christmas break and we took our tree down, which lends itself to a little post-holiday depression anyway.  But as I’m ironing the candle wax out of the runner I got advent wax on this year (along with the one that’s been sitting in my laundry room since advent wax got on it LAST year) I feel horribly inadequate and generally unhappy with myself.  I should have gotten that candle wax out last year.  Chad asks me if I’ve seen where a stack of DVDs are, and I have no idea.  Our storage space and extra bedroom are a complete mess.  My house is undecorated.  The list of domestic putterings and unfinished projects in my head races to the forefront.  Aren’t I supposed to be on top of this sort of thing?  And wasn’t I going to get more done today?  And oh yes, I need to get on top of planning for youth group, too.  It starts back up again Sunday.  As a ministry leader that should make me excited, right?  But why do I feel somewhat of a drudge and dread at that, down at the bottom of my heart?  Gosh, Katherine, you’re not supposed to feel that way.  Get a grip.

But Kat, you’re pregnant.  Remember just a month or two ago?  You couldn’t even make dinner after getting home from work you were so exhausted, much less iron off the candle wax.  You were letting go, remember?  Not worrying about the dust or the cobwebs or the mold in the toilet or the mess in the basement.  So now that you have energy, you’re just going to tear yourself to shreds with criticism?  That’s not fair.  You’re pregnant.

Or busy. Or working 40 hours a week.  Or whatever.  There will always be SOMETHING I can look to as an excuse.  But even doing that… an excuse says there’s still something lacking.  That the standard is still HERE, at a certain spot, and you’re missing it, but it’s okay because you have a valid excuse.  And the problem with THAT, is that I’m still trying to live up to some arbitrary standard I’ve set for myself, and fooling myself with an excuse.  Fooling myself thinking I’m okay, when I’m still measuring my worth and my value by a man-made standard.  Using a man-made measuring stick.  But the measuring stick is the wrong one, and I can’t let it go.  I keep picking it up.  And putting it down.  And picking it up again.  THIS is my struggle.  The measuring stick I use on myself.  Using my own, instead of using my Maker’s.

And yes, the Lord wants me to be a good steward of my resources.  Of my time.  To take care of the gifts he has given me, which include my home and the table runner my mother quilted me.  And yes, he has called me to be a youth leader.  And perhaps I have attitudes and issues he needs to deal with me in that regard.  But those are separate from the measuring stick he uses to determine my value.  My value has already been set.  It was determined way, way back, a long time ago.  Before I was born.  Before I was an ultrasound picture, or a heartbeat my parents were ecstatic to hear.  Before I was the precious miracle they held in their arms.  Before I was a beautiful little girl.  Before I grew up into a sexy wife of some sort.  Before the world attributed any value or worth to me at all….  I was loved.  I was a precious daughter.  A princess of the King.  And that’s a title I did NOTHING to deserve or own.  And so that means there’s nothing I can do to keep it, and nothing I can do to lose it either.  Whether that stupid candle wax comes off the table runner or not… that doesn’t change who I am, who my Father created me to be.  He made me with the intention I’d be perfect and we’d love each other.  By the nature of sin, I screwed that one up.  So he died instead of me and forgave me… which set me free from my chains.  So that I’m free to struggle, not struggling to be free.

Lord, help me to once again set down that silly measuring stick of mine and the world’s making.  Satan’s a poophead and keeps telling me I need to use it.  Well he’s wrong, isn’t he?  Remind me once again who I belong to.

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”   Psalm 103:1-5

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:1-10

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1 …  “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” 8:6  “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”  8:14-15

by Katherine Hatting

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