Don’t you love those “cold sweat” moments? I’m not even sure what that means (isn’t sweat, by its very nature, HOT?!) but I have definitely experienced them...in fact, I just had such a moment the other night...
The scene was our hometown grocery story and the setting started oh-so-serene: I was lazily strolling through the aisle, shopping at my leisure as I only had ONE child (yep, count ‘em-JUST one little angel, how hard can THAT be, right?!) in my care that day. The girls were off to the grandparent’s house to have a lovely day and the older boys were living it up in the city with the other set of grandparents. So I had no distractions and no excuses to NOT have a peaceful and joy-filled day...or did I?!
I had just set the first grocery item on the check-out line when my sleeping angel suddenly woke up and decided he was STARVING and wanted to eat NOW. His blood-curling screams filled the air as I vainly attempted to shove “the silencer” (aka, a pacifier) in his cute little mouth. After it was spit out for the hundredth time, I gave up and frantically chucked everything from my cart onto the conveyer belt, wishing the cart were lighter so I could just lift it up and dump the whole thing on the belt and get this miserable moment over with. Meanwhile, a sweet friend pulled up behind me and I (lamely) attempted to chat with her while all I could think was “MUST FEED BABY!! CRYING BABY!!”.
It must have been a year later when the cashier finally gave me my total and I threw her my debit card, which, NATURALLY, wouldn’t work on the machine as the strip was worn off.
Card not working.
This was definitely turning into a COLD SWEAT moment.
I sped home (“MUST FEED BABY!!”) and didn’t even take the time to get the melting ice-cream into the freezer. I hurriedly got Daniel out of his car-seat then bumped into my unsuspecting husband as I raced towards the nursery. For some reason, that moment seemed like a good time to him to bring up a sticky topic. He left the nursery five minutes later...without his head.
I collapsed into the rocker to feed my baby, grateful Daniel was now happy and no longer crying...but now his mama was NOT happy and crying her eyes out!
My heart felt like a dish-rag that had all the water squeezed out of it. Where was my joy? If I was brutally honest with myself (and with God), then the truth was it wasn’t just a bad day or a cold-sweat moment that zapped it from me. There had been a small leak in my heart for quite some time and the joy I once had was...gone.
I felt short of breath as it hit me: I had a disease with no human cure. The joy-less heart symptoms were all there; snapping at my husband, short with my kids, basing my happiness on circumstances (peaceful baby, a fun outing, healthy children, money in the bank, a clean home) instead of having true JOY no matter WHAT was going on around me (screaming baby, cancelled plans, sick kids, tight budget, a messy home). How had I been so blind to the disease of joy-lessness that was slowly eating away at me?!
I felt my shoulders slump in defeat.
I used to think I could conquer the world and now I now felt I could no longer conquer a pile of laundry.
Okay, God, I get that my heart is joy-less...but how do I get my joy back?
I felt as if I were standing before a fork in the road and each road before me was marked with a different sign. One direction had a huge, flashing sign marking a well-worn road, it read “Keep Striving”, and I knew that path was the one I had been traveling for too long. If I chose to continue in that direction, I would just “keep striving” on my own, trying to “do it all” with my own strength and never have "enough" (time, money, grace, patience, etc.).
The other sign was faded and I could tell the road had been less traveled, it seemed quiet and at first I wondered what the simple hand-painted sign meant, “Cave”. Then I smiled: If I chose that road I would need to “cave in” to the One who had created me and “...knows the plans He has for me: plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans for a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The fact is I’m created to be in a crazy-love relationship with my Saviour and if I’m not spending time with Him, then...I’m just going CRAZY!!
There is no better time to take my first step back in the right direction than the present.
That evening while Daniel slept in my arms, the sound of spring-time, singing birds wafted through the nursery window and the ice-cream melted outside in my truck, I caved. I started back on the path with NO promises of a happy, care-free life but with a 100% guarantee that IF you travel with your Creator, joy unspeakable can fill your heart.
Even in cold-sweat moments.