I am tired. The ever-present effects of a struggling economy are taking their toll. People are losing their jobs, finances are tight and stress is mounting.
There seems to be more vacant buildings in our community everyday. It is a very difficult time. I want God to relieve the stress. I want Him to restore the jobs, bolster the economy and make things better. He has not chosen to do that at this time. And so, I must learn to love Him and live for Him in the difficult moments.
The following is from Vickie. She is a member of my church, a friend to my wife and me, a single mom and has been unemployed for two and a half years:
"Have you ever been tired? I mean, really physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired? I recently experienced tiredness so intense that my only desire was to get in my car and drive south until I reached the end of Florida. I wanted to find a beach and just sit. I felt a strong longing to find a place where no one knew me. I longed for a place where I wasn't mommy, daughter, sister, auntie, friend, or employee -- a place where I had no role to fill. It would be just me and the waves going out and coming in. In this place, I could sit and experience silence and peace.
"I have been so much and performed so many roles for others that I no longer recognize myself. I have a clear picture of who I was and who I thought I was going to be, but not who I have become. I even have friends that do not know my middle name or the year I was born. Many people think they know me, but they don't. They know the role I play in their life, but they don't know me. At times, I am not sure I know myself. I change hats so often that I have to look in the mirror to figure out which hat I am currently wearing.
"I remember a time in my life when I greeted each day with singing and dancing. It drove my sister crazy as she mumbled, 'How can you be so happy first thing in the morning?' But I was happy, or maybe the correct word is 'joyful.' Everything wasn't perfect in my life, but it was good.
"Not only did I sing and dance, I laughed. The tears rolling down my face kind of laughing! Much of this laughter was brought on by my brother who was living with us at the time. He was a combination of Bill Cosby, Red Foxx and the two old guys in the balcony on the Muppet Show. We laughed and laughed. I can't remember the last time I really laughed that hard.
"This tiredness is really a feeling beyond tired. It is weariness. Weariness is such an old word; we usually hear it from older people. I guess that is because you have to live a long time and experience a lot to get to become weary. This is a period when you ask yourself and you ask God, who am I, and is this all there is to my life?
"I quote Jeremiah 29:11 until I can say it in my sleep, but I really can't see the plan of hope and a future. I am like a small child that is lost in a store and I can't see my father over the racks of clothes, or down the next aisle. I call him and call him, "Father where are you? Where are you?" I call him so much and so loud that I can't hear him respond.
"As I sat here writing, I think my desire to be alone is really a desire to runaway from my pain or to escape. But then I began to remember that Abraham was alone when God made a covenant with him; Hagar was alone in the desert when she spoke, "You are the God who sees me"; Jacob was alone when he wrestled with God; Daniel was alone in the lions' den; David was alone in Psalms 55; Moses was alone when he encountered God on Mount Horeb; Samuel was alone when God called his name; Mary and Joseph were alone in their encounter with God; Even Christ was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane.
"Maybe the time alone I seek is not my desire to run away, but my soul's cry for an encounter with God. Deep down, I know He is the only one who truly knows who I am. He is the only one I can call "El Roi -- The God who sees me." Maybe, in this time alone, I will experience the God of my hope and my future and encounter the God of Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Samuel, Mary and Joseph.
"Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
"By the way, my middle name is Earlene (which is my mother's name) and I was born Aug. 19, 1961."
The Rev. Chris Reynolds is pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Jonesboro.