Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Texting with Jesus in the Thicket of Nothingness

Sometimes I wish Jesus sent text messages.

My life is such a ball of harried busyness these days–it would simply be more efficient. I'm an editor for a local magazine, a mom to two kids under four and a wife to an energetic mountain climber who only needs six hours of sleep. Doesn't take much imagination to get a clear picture of the daily tiredness I encounter. So what? We're all tired. Moms are exhausted, it's a reality. But that isn't what bothers me.

It's the why I'm tired that bothers me. I'm beginning to think that I'm moving yet, going nowhere. Typing yet, creating nothing. Getting ahead, yet falling behind.

You see if Jesus could send texts that would fit so much nicer into the grid of my life. I barely have a moment to change the toilet paper roll let alone consult with Him on how to use the fourteenth temper tantrum of the day as a teaching moment. I don't have moments to gather myself and listen to the whisper of His wisdom when my kids are screaming for more juice and my work is drilling my email with negativity and complaints.

And you know what? I think I may be in sin.

Believe me, I really want this to be untrue. I want people to tell me that I'm doing a great job juggling it all. I want my husband to be proud of how hard I work. I want my children to know that mommy isn't just a mommy, she has other talents outside of wiping running noses and making a mean jam sandwich. But why do I want that?

And I sit here. My fingers poised on the keys. And I am at a loss. I don't know why I want that. Jesus made it so very clear in his Word about what is of value to Him that it may have well been a text message.

JesusMartha (Megan), dear Martha (Megan), you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary (someone else) has chosen it. [Luke 10:41-42]

Me: What was that G-man? I was too busy editing a piece about dive bars and folding the laundry and loading the dishwasher and changing a diaper and calling my mom and reading the "news" (Facebook) to understand what you mean. Can you repeat it?

Jesus: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind [Luke 10:27]

Me: Sorry, too tired to talk about this. Going to watch Parenthood. 


And I'm, done. Ready to turn my brain off for some sanity. All I want is just a sliver of escape that I desperately deserve. Right?

Yes, I deserve to find rest in Him. But that's not where I go. I don't run to the Bible or my journal. 

I run to an empty room inside my mind where no one needs me, it's quiet and clean. And I'm alone. It's a fantasy of what peace must be like, but my imaginary happy place is counterfeit. Real peace is found in the wise whispers I can't hear over the clanging of my own complaints. 

Do less. Breathe more. Spend time with me. Spend time with your kids. Let the accolades go. Don't believe the hype. You are not talented. I have given you those gifts. Love your husband. Stop blaming him for your state of mind. Stop blaming Me for not speaking clear enough. Stop blaming yourself for getting caught up in the thicket of nothingness. Return. To. Me. 

Jesus was and is so counter-cultural that even two-thousand years after His death he is still breaking down the truth of what life should look like when lived in alignment with His best for us. And it looks drastically different than anything we will see on TV, in our friends' lives and even in the church. 

It looks minimal. 

Sell all you have and give to the poor. [Luke 18:22]

It looks plain. 

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. [Isaiah 53:2]

It looks unimpressive.

For your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. [2 Corinthians 8:9]

But dear friends, it looks peaceful. 

I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid. [John 14:27]

I have traded in my Savior for a schedule. I just want efficiency. I just want a yes or no. I want to treat him like my assistant who has an amazing sense of direction.

But you know what He really is? He's the point. He's the plan. He's the promise.

If I am completely upfront about my current heart condition, I should say that this probably won't change anything in my life immeadietly. I am stubborn and full of vanity. But I do know this, that Jesus is relentless in His faithfulness. He will not let me waste myself away to dust. Instead, I am opening up my weary heart for some soul surgery.

I've been joyless. I've been run down. I've put busyness above belief.

One last text would need to be sent.

Me: I ask forgiveness for being too distracted to be a disciple. Don't let me get away with it. You are my first love. Show me how to fix it.

If you ask the hard questions about how you've designed your life, He will provide the real answers. I pray I'm not in the middle of folding socks when He does–God knows how hard it is for me to break away from that.

We're in this together,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I'm Not Your Servant

I recently had one of those parenting days where I did the exact opposite of what I believe to be true.

The prophet Paul knows what I'm talking about, "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." 

There I was standing at the top of the stairs in my mother-in-law's house on Easter morning. Eyes burning, head aching, body revolting to this whole idea of being a "present" mom. My heart wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and let my kids have their way with the exposed (and reachable) crystal collection in the dining room or let them terrorize the vintage records perfectly positioned for a few licks of a toddler tongue or at least a good snotting on. 

The previous three days had been spent without my husband at the family lake house with my two kids and my mother.  Sound idyllic? In some ways it will be (once these ever stretching days become sepia-toned snapshots.) I know my brain will only play back the moments filled with sunsets, hysterical laughing, and priceless cuddles in my neck. That's God's grace. 

But not enough time had passed. The days were still raw. Someday I will forget that I got up a total of 11 times in the last 48 hours to help a restless daughter back to sleep. I won't recall the exhaustion that came from constantly discipling my son over a single lost two-cent plastic dinosaur (among dozens of others) which then caused every waking moment to become a whine-symphony complete with limp limbs and slamming doors. 

I had not had the convenience of my own home or bed in four days. Neither had my kids. And I am again reminded that no matter how many times I try to convince myself that vacationing with kids is fun, it isn't. At least not with two kids under three. I hear this changes. But at this point, I've tried wine to relax. I've tried coffee to wake up. Both have left me with a headache and a deep sense of my own weakness and an urgent desire to soak myself in the Bible-which usually leads me to the book of James. 

But I hadn't carved out enough to time to get the Word in and so there I was at the top of the stairs and it all came to a head: the 6:15 a.m. wake up call after my midnight bedtime combined with the miscues and missed opportunities to rely on God. I found myself drowning in the empty side of the pool. I had not put His goodness in and was not getting His goodness out. The bootstrap principle I had been implementing was now threadbare, I have nothing left to hold on to. And I was a terror. 

My son kept repeating over and over and over and over that he needed his teddy bear. I tried to ignore him as long as I could, but between trying to pack and trying not to fall asleep while standing up the following words flooded out of mouth intended to bite:

"Get your own teddy bear, son! I am NOT YOUR SERVANT!"

My son's face fell. He just wanted his mommy to show him that what matters most to him matters to her. And instead of taking that moment to teach him how much I loved him by going into the unfamiliar room that he had stayed in the night before–I chose to use it as a teaching moment  to chastise a small child for being lazy, when I was really being the lazy one.

Pounding down the stairs I left him alone. Hoping my hard words would cure his inability to be self sufficient and that he would bound down the stairs with Teddy in hand and I would pat myself on the back for sticking to my guns. I mean, come on! He is almost three and a half after all! Get it together kid. 

I know....really pretty heart stuff here. 

That moment faded and the excitement of Easter eggs and high fructose corn syrup trumped all. I forgot about the moment and it seemed he did too. All good. 

Finally we had the car packed and we were heading home. Finally I would see my own bed. The kids would be back in their routine. I was going to survive. I was nodding off in the front seat, my daughter was screaming in the back seat and the phone rang. We had forgot something. 


The voice on the other line oozed out like an ominous ransom, "Teddy is here." Daaa-da-da-dum. 

Both of us exasperated, tired and utterly inconvenienced–flipped the car around and headed back to get the precious bear. The bear that I refused to retrieve for my son. The bear that I denied any responsibility for. The bear that I nailed to the cross in order to declare my power over another. The bear that I declared I was NOT a servant for. I was so much more important than that. And now the bear was putting me in my place. The lesson was no longer mine to teach but mine to learn.

When you are face to face with a bad day. Rewind. Look for the missed opportunities where you didn't align your day with God's desire for you. The days are so much better where I wake up and admit, "Lord, I can't do today. I am totally ill-equipped to even pretend I can do this on my own. Show up. Be the loving presence my children and husband need. And show me how much you love me- the broken, beautiful mess that I am."

In the words of one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, "True greatness comes to us through the back door of servanthood."

We're in this together,