I could play the “six children” card. Or the “my husband had knee surgery” card. How about the “working full time is hard” card?

I have a lot of cards. Excuses.

Excuses as to why I have not blogged. Yes, I have six kids (three teenagers), a husband still recovering, and I work full time at a job I am still trying to figure out. Wanna hear what else I’ve been doing?

Hiding. Self-medicating.

I lay awake last night unable to drift off. My bedside table betrayed me- evidence of my attempt to find joy for the evening. Empty coffee mug. Two empty bags of Pepperidge Farm Milanos (for real), the TV remote. In the floor was a bag of 1/2 priced scarves and earrings. A new planner and a book about organizing. Untouched.

I felt empty (except my stomach which felt sour from all the cookies) . Again.

While Hot Pastor read, I got up, grabbed a sweatshirt, and headed for the deck. I stepped outside into the cold. My sluggish spirit needed to connect with real comfort. Real joy.

The night was quiet. No stars. Clouds and damp air. Yet it was real. I prayed aloud watching my breath hang in the air for a moment.  I felt a little life creep back into my spirit. I had all but snuffed it out with the things of this word in an attempt to feel comfort and happiness. Movies, coffee, cookies, shopping. Not just that day.

A pattern circled around and around. The same day over and over.

Trying to make myself “feel” better. That’s what “self-medicating” is, our attempt at making ourselves feel better. Like taking cough medicine while you have the flu. Your cough might ease up a bit, but the flu virus rages on in your body.

In worship today,  as the Christmas songs began, I prayed for something real with Jesus. My heart knew that he was what I really desired. The words, “comfort and joy, comfort and joy” penetrated my spirit.

“Let nothing you despair. Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day. To say us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray. Oh tidings of comfort and joy…”

Astray: off course, off target, wide of the mark

I want comfort and joy. Jesus. I want Jesus. Yet, I have been so off course. I’m not living the life I so desperately want. I’m self-medicating my flesh. Treating my fears and doubts, my fatigue of it all with a double chocolate Milano and a new scarf. I’m indulging in late night movies while my soul goes to bed hungry for God’s word. Hallmark movies instead of prayer.

It seems great at the time. Indulge. Escape. Forget about life for a while. In healthy doses, we call it “resting” or “refueling”. When it becomes our go to, when it becomes a pattern traced over and over into our daily lives, it is just bad medicine. It coats, soothes, and relieves. For a moment. Only a moment.

Life is right here in my face. It’s messy and exhausting and wonderful and awful. Its all a gift of grace to be embraced head on with Christ before us, in us, and behind us.

I have been in hiding. I’ve tried to escape life and all its struggles, instead of embracing Jesus. He offers comfort and joy. He is comfort and joy.

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.