Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “The aesthetics of my surroundings has a strong influence on my mood.”
I was taking one of those on-line personality tests. My daughter wanted to see if my results would be the same as hers, so she sent me the link. Most of the questions were easy. In fact, this one was extremely easy. Of course I clicked “Agree.” But it stopped me in my tracks.
I was sitting in my dining room with my laptop, surrounded by tea cups and a white lace tablecloth, with bright sunlight occasionally shining through the cobalt blue bottles in the window that looked out on the tree in my backyard. I’ve sort of made this room my office for the winter.
For those of you who live in the South, let me inform you that winter lingers in Vermont until mid-April at least. The tiresome length of winter some years has been a true fight against depression for me, especially during March, when the weather starts teasing me with forty degree days followed by a snow storm. I think many people struggle with this—it isn’t just those with disabilities like myself, who find it difficult to venture out in the snow and ice. You hear a lot of folks complaining about the elusiveness of spring this time of year and the discouragement that yet another snow storm can bring.
But this winter hasn’t been so hard on my mood, and I actually think it’s because of a simple choice to move my laptop, my bookkeeping, my correspondence, my piano lesson-planning, my worship-leader prep, my blogging, into this room. I feel like I have spent most of the winter in this room.
The amount of sunlight alone has helped. But let’s be real. I love white lace and tea cups. So yes. I whole-heartedly agree. “The aesthetics of my surroundings has a strong influence on my mood.”
Which is why, today, as I was looking through the lyrics of the songs I am planning to lead Sunday morning, I was struck by this phrase in Bethel Music’s “No Longer Slaves”: I am surrounded by the arms of the Father . . . I am surrounded by songs of deliverance . . .
A quick Google search led me to Psalm 32. King David writes in his song to God: (verse 7) You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Then, further down in verse 10: Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.
His unfailing love surrounds me.
Like the bright daylight in this room, his unfailing love surrounds me. Like the white lace cloth over the old creaky table, his unfailing love surrounds me. Like the warmth of the heat coming from the vent, even when the wind is whipping the bare tree branches around outside my window, his unfailing love surrounds me.
If you start at the beginning of Psalm 32, you’ll see what David is so happy about. He hasn’t always been feeling so peaceful. (Verse 1-5) Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered…When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long…then I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Like David, I have to admit that when I knew I was not right with God—when I knew I had sinned—I didn’t feel so comforted. Have you been there? It isn’t a very nice place to be, surrounded by guilt and regret. I will forever be thankful for Sunday School teachers who taught me again and again that “when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
I would much rather be surrounded by his love.
I look forward to singing about it on Sunday.