Mondays are terrifically busy days for us. It’s a race from school to sitting in a crowded ballet studio to rushing home and trying to do a little homework, then dinner and then bedtime. It’s the day of the week that I feel like I’m standing on a lazy susan just spinning around and around and I don’t really stop until I hit the bed that night.
More often than not, I find myself with very little patience on Mondays. I try to spend at least 30 minutes before I start this little marathon in quiet. Trying to prep myself for the spinning that is about to start. And more often than not I find myself standing in the kitchen frustrated with the words I’ve screamed at my children, dinner boiling over on the stove and me thinking that this mothering thing just isn’t working out quite right.
But in the midst of all that what do I do? I do stand in the kitchen and want to give up. But what am I giving up too? God calls us to abandon ourselves to Him. And that should evoke a sense of great freedom in us. Oddly though, I don’t want to give up control during those dizzy days. I hate the spinning, but to let go of it all means that I’m not in control of where I spin next. Letting go and abandoning my day, my moments, my mothering to those fighting children in the backseat and my wifeing to the husband that wearily walked in the back door, is what He has called me to. I can’t do all those things and I can’t spend my life condemning myself either.
In those moments when the world is running quickly past me are the times that I realize how much I’ve built my life like a box with God on the outside. Like the stuffing that protects a fragile item. I don’t really want Him to be in the box with me; I just want Him protecting me from the outside. The inside is never going to be quiet if I don’t let Him be in the box…be the center of that box. If I don’t break down the walls and step outside. Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life describes a life of prayer as a life that isn’t less busy, but a heart that is less busy. When the outer busyness bustles around us, we have an inner quiet. And when we have that inner quiet we are able to love greater.
We are no longer captive to the spinning that is going on around us. Will I still harp on my kids? Will I still jump on my husband with life concerns when he walks in the door? Will I still be terrified when the Lord continues to squeeze me in directions I don’t want to go?
Yes. But when I realize that all of these contribute to the greater story He is writing, I can rest in Him. I can go to Him. I can find my center in Him and break down the walls of the box I’m hiding in.
By this we know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him;
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and He knows everything.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whenever we ask we receive from Him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment that we believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. ~ 1 John 3: 19-24
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Writing for five minutes without edits
Today’s word is “after”
I spend my life living too much with the word before and after.
Before is a place of memory. Sometimes beautiful and sometimes regretful.
The birth of each of my babies.
The frustration in my voice as the last words my baby hears before he walks into school.
Beauty and regret.
After is a place of the unknown.
Yet it is a place where I think I can grasp control.
Where I can change what might happen.
After is a place of fear and worry.
It’s the here and now; the present that is hardest to live.
To engage with the now.
To engage with the minutes before me.
How easy it is the sit with the before and try and control the after!
And it is the present where I can move and live and make choices.
It is engaging with what is in front of me that I can change the after.
But in the after there is also forgiveness and grace.
There is resurrection in the after.
There is Jesus.
Writing bare for five minutes on one word.
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Today word, this Good Friday, is broken.
When I think of Good Friday, I think of Peter.
Of all the 12, I am most like Peter.
So puffed up and sure in myself. Thinking that I’ve got it all under control.
And then a rooster crows and these eyes are on me.
Eyes that see right through me and into those places of truth.
The broken places that I’ve taped back together.
And then He is broken. And I see him and wonder what was it all for?
All this time following and believing.
And as He is broken there for me
and as I sit an question and feel abandoned
I do know, just as He healed the ear of the man that was ripped off in an act of supposed gallantry,
when those eyes see me and see those broken places, there is healing.
The brokenness is not forever.
In Joshua 6, the Israelites have crossed over into the promised land. They have been given the city of Jericho and are sitting at the brink of Ai. But the Israelites have grieved the heart of God by disobeying Him and plundering from the city of Jericho. God leads them into a battle with the men of Ai and they lose.
At this, Joshua tears his clothes and begins crying out to God in frustration. He whines that things would have been better had they stayed on the other side of the Jordan. He so quickly forgets how they crossed the Jordan, what life was like on the other side and what even happened at Jericho….walls falling down at the blow of a horn.
I so recognize with this in myself. When life becomes challenging, or my story isn’t going the way I wanted it to, I immediately long for the way things were before. As if before things were better than now. I forget where I have been and what “miracles” God has done to get me here and I sit and mourn.
God tells Joshua to “get up!”. Someone has sinned and it must be atoned for. He reminds Joshua of the story that he is in and that God is writing. He reminds Joshua that he is there and moving in and among.
It reminded me of a portion of Henri Nouwen’s book the Road to Daybreak called Running Away or Returning.
“It’s not easy to let the voice of God’s mercy speak to use because it’s a voice asking for an open relationship, one in which sins are acknowledged, forgiveness received and love renewed.” (p.158)
This is what God offers me on this side of the Jordan.
As a former special education teacher, when I read the word “helplessness” in books about our faith, I have to shake off the definition that I long knew. For a special education student, “learned helplessness” is a dirty word. As the educator it was my job to encourage that child and facilitate the means for him or her to be self-sufficient to the best of their ability. But as a believer, a child of God, this helplessness is what we must long for.
Self-sufficiency is the serpent crawling through the garden.
As I continue on in my reading of Paul Miller’s book, he writes “my access to Him [God] in prayer comes through the reality of my desperation.” When I walk through my days with the perspective of finding Jesus in it, I’m in essence reducing myself.
I have to learn to be helpless.
I have to let go of that sinful nature that declares that “I’ve got this.”
Because there is not one speck of my life that I’ve “got”.
Bringing ourselves to this point of helplessness with God, also opens up the reality of who we are. We pray for the minute details of our lives, because we are honest with Him. We cry out, like David, for things that seem crazy to cry out to God to. But, we stop ourselves from asking because we don’t think that tiny thing really matters to God or means anything in the grand scheme of things.
But it does.
Doesn’t it say that “he clothes the birds, how much more would He love and clothe us?”
God is infinite and personal.
He is in everything and longs to be.
He longs to be in the everything of me.
Miller goes on “when I stop being myself with God I’m no longer in real conversation with Him.” Dare I jump so quickly to “your will Lord” instead of crying out “have mercy!”. When we jump over our hearts cry, we are back in the garden hiding behind a bush. The point of prayer is us being honest about what is on our hearts.
Changing our perspective; moving out from behind the bushes and letting Him clothe us is scary.
It’s against our culture. It moves against everything we hear or have been taught.
But freedom only comes, peace only moves into our hearts,
when we can view our lives through the lens of His mercy.
We can only do that when we open ourselves up to Him…
sinful, selfish, silly heart cries and all.