Not My Own Strength
As I searched for a theme verse I kept humming, “The joooy of the Looord is my strength. The joooy of the Looord is my strength. The joooy of the Looord is my strength. The joy of the Lord is my strength.” I’m a good Baptist girl who grew up going to summer day camps singing songs laced with Scripture that will forever be ingrained in my memory. So in the planning months for this blog, this refrain helped shape the vision.
I could not find the verse! I looked through multiple versions of the Bible, cross-referenced in Blue Letter Bible and Olive Tree, and I resorted to a trusty Google search that showed zero results. In my search, I found lots of verses in Psalms on joy, which are great and definitely cater to the overall theme, but were not exactly what I was looking for. I decided that this song must have just been a song and not Scripture. Should it still be the tagline since it’s a positive reminder in the day-to-day of motherhood? Should I also have a verse incorporating joy or strength as the theme verse? Philippians 4:13 had been popping up again and again in my life recently so that could be a solid option. I felt super bummed that I had to rework my game plan.
Then one day I had a terrible, horrible day. Completely rotten. I woke up and felt like a different, nasty person. I prayed half-heartedly for my attitude to change and got everyone dressed to head out the door to the library, all the while snapping at the boys that they’re not getting their clothes on fast enough- why are they messing up their hair I just combed- you seriously have to pee right now? Yes, it was a great start to our “fun” outing. We get to the library, the boys aren’t cooperating, J loudly proclaims he doesn’t like story time every three minutes, D keeps taking random books off the shelves declaring them his favorite, and then we go to open an account… and cannot because of reasons. So our lovely pile of books is put back and we’ll try again next week. We get home and I begin to battle with my computer over some techie issues I’ve been dealing with for months. An hour later with no progress except knowing that xyz also won’t solve my problem; I shut the computer and think about just tossing the whole thing. Husband gets home after a long day of Army school and has work to do, so no respite for Mama. Fine. Whatever. I was in a lousy mood. I snapped, I yelled, and I belittled the boys. I could physically feel the bad day and that it was affecting my mood, but at this point I had lost control.
The guilt began and I apologized to the boys and promised to have a better tomorrow. I asked their forgiveness, kissed them goodnight, and slumped off to bed thinking how ironic it is that I wanted to blog about finding joyful MOMents. Were there any that day? Who was I kidding?
I spent a long time in prayer asking the Lord to forgive my selfish spirit and to give me a servant’s heart towards my boys. I searched the Bible and wrote out verses to help me focus when I felt overwhelmed. I praised the Lord for providing a path for me when frustrations arose, my anger bubbled up, and my emotions tried to take control. I felt encouraged, recharged, and forgiven for my horrible attitude. Then I went to where I left off in my daily Scripture reading in Nehemiah.
Go to Nehemiah 8:1-12. Nehemiah was building the wall around Jerusalem while the Israelites were in exile. The wall had been completed and the people were rejoicing. This is where chapter eight picks up. The people realized how far they had drifted from the law of the Lord and it pained them. Then comes verse 10, “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
The joy of the Lord is your strength.
This verse I had searched for over previous months was there in my daily reading right when I needed it. God saw me and knew that I needed to be brought low to see the ineffectiveness of living under my own strength. He put that Scripture in my heart for the blog, but I needed to truly be reminded of its message at the end of a rotten day. In my own strength, I will fail every time. In my own strength, I will look at my needs more than the needs of those around me. In my own strength, I will act selfishly. But when the joy of the Lord is my strength, He will control my thoughts. When the joy of the Lord is my strength, He will guide my steps and actions. When the joy of the Lord is my strength, I will see the joyful MOMents every day instead of the messes and inconveniences.
The joy of the Lord is your strength, and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Not in my strength, but only through Him and His working in and around me.