Lately I’ve been thinking that Heaven would be much easier than life; especially in the wake of the merciless killings of so many innocent children in Connecticut.  I’ve been living under this thought of “life is hard and painful and I’m over it. Jesus it’s time for you to return.”  Sounds awful huh?  Especially considering that I love my kids, I love my husband, I really love my life – usually, but I’ve been missing some of the joy aspect of it all this holiday season. 
As the newness of this next chapter of my life wears off and reality has begun to set in during this past year, I’ve been increasingly guilty of taking on too much responsibility for the happiness and well being of everyone involved. Ryan jokes that my head must be a mess at times because I am emotional like a woman but a fixer like a man and I feel that pull often.   I want my husband to be happy and my kids to be happy and this question often thumps within my brain, “Are they all doing ok? Am I missing something with any of them?” And this heavy weight that I’ve placed upon my own heart that beats out this false presumption that it’s all on me and if something goes amiss it must be something I did wrong or didn’t catch.  
I know I’m not the only person in the world who feels this way, and I know that many times it is those of us who have gone through some pretty deep trenches of grief and despair who take these heavy loads as we seek out the answer to the eternal question, “What is this all about, this life, our lives, why can it be so hard?”  I find if I become stuck in this environment of feeling despair or overwhelmed my focus is quickly taken off of my Redeemer, and  I become very easily disheartened and often tempted with self-medicating techniques, various vices, little foxes (as my favorite author John Eldredge affectionately calls them) used to numb the pain and confusion. These small, seemingly insignificant habits that can so easily creep into our lives and begin to take over: pain medications, sleeping pills, food, sex, alcohol, crude movies or television, Facebook, video games, chat rooms, soap operas (no, I don’t struggle with ALL of these!) anything that we feel can help us in the moment drown out the reality of our lives. 
No, “jess” is nowhere near perfect but much closer, in fact, to the name I go under on this blog – jess is so often a huge, gigantic mess who despite my first born know it all attitude in life doesn’t know half the time how to just stop trying to fix everything and just start giving it to her Maker.  God has been working on my heart recently with some of the things I turn to such as zoning out online instead of being present with my family; something many, many mothers struggle with or watching that movie or comedian that we would never let our children watch but for some reason the moral standard is different as an adult… but should it be?    
This advent season is different for me than ones in years past.  God is speaking to me, retraining me on how to find joy and peace in Him and in the little baby boy he sent to be our Savior thousands of years ago.  He is telling me to feel – feel the joy, feel the pain, feel the hardness that life often brings and feel it all with every cell of my being, not numbing it with the internet or one too many glasses of wine, or a worthless movie, but to feel what only He can fill in my heart – His peace and His joy.   It can be a difficult task because in feeling there is growth but in growth there is freedom and that is why a Savior was sent to a broken and frail humanity, to free us from the bondages that these little vices can so often wreak upon our lives in subtle and sneaky ways. 
I’ve had strongholds in my life that had firmly embedded themselves during the hardest few years of my life and they became weeds chocking out so much of my potential to become the wife, mom, and person He had in store for me, but those strongholds have been broken through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. He was sent “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:1).
This season of miracles, this season of advent, God has been showing me that I don’t have to self-medicate with mischievous little foxes, I don’t have to soothe my pain, and I don’t have to wallow in the past.  Because of Christmas, I am FREE – we are all free!  This is the year of the Lord’s favor, I have been comforted by the great Comforter, I don’t live in a heap of ashes anymore, I have been given a crown of beauty and a garment of praise and in The name of a little baby born in Bethlehem, I will not live under a spirit of despair for my sin has been washed away and my heart has been wiped as clean as snow (Isaiah 1:18) all because my Heavenly Father loved me so much he sent his one and only son. Merry, Merry Christmas from the whole crew at Jessplusthemess!
Just keep livin!!

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