Friday, October 3, 2014

The X Factor

Moving through layers of shadow and cedar, the morning mist floated and twisted into ribbons of thick steam. The fog folded itself over an infinitesimal amount of times before disappearing into the unfolding day. I sat in awe on our back patio. A "wow" escaped my lips.

My daughter was pulling all of the toys out of the outside bin and running around with one shoe on. My son was sword fighting an imaginary bad guy–all required sound effects included. I was in a striped tunic, workout pants and flowered rain boots. Not the best outfit choice of all time. Not the most serene surroundings. Not the quietest moment. Not the perfect time. But I looked up. I took the time to see God moving in nature and it got me. It got me on the inside.

When I sit down to write, I never know what is going to come out. Whenever I am in the middle of a struggle it helps me see clearer. Whenever I am in the middle of monumental achievements–like joy and contentment–it helps me catalog. And sometimes it just feels like flying. Like doing the one thing I was made to do, clumsily, with free falls and typos and tense shifting and plain old errors. And I embrace that.

I can finally say that I don't do things perfectly and somehow the people on my home team, as Shauna Niequist would call those people who give you the space to stagger, still understand. It is amazing how far grace goes.

Lately, I have found this grace between crumpled sheets and in shreds of moonlight on the carpet. When I am tired and sick, I still pray for a longing to love. For the baby ears, let's just refer to this as the X Factor. I am getting all itchy just thinking about writing about this, but God is teaching me something in this department and so that's where the fog led me.

I don't know a lot about this. But I do know that after you are married for awhile, you can forget about how important the X factor is to the fundamental way your marriage should function. I know that it is something that needs care, attention and connects us to our spouses like bolts and hinges.

When you are waiting to get married you think it will always occur to you; that you will make yourself available in lace and longevity no matter the season. But after the ring goes on or comes off, or the kids show up and the shaving of your legs drops on the list of priorities, we can get to a place of forget or fatigue or flat out apathy. There are a hundred reasons to hang it up. The timing doesn't feel right. The outfit is wrong. The surroundings aren't serene. There's stuff in the way. Like socks.

You know the angry socks, the ones you can feel resentment towards.  

These socks right here–ugh. More like shackles. If only I could have a moment to myself then maybe I could fold these with happy hands. If this was easier than I could see the beauty in the threadbare heels, but right now? I only see tired feet and tired eyes, and my edges are frayed and fickle and dipped in Go-gurt. Oh and look, the garbage is full and the clothes are lumpy on the floor and my kids are screaming.

And just like that anger has moved in and shut you off again at the spout.

And we drip like faucets inwardly and outwardly and we want change that we don't want to have to make ourselves. (Proverbs 27:15) This isn't an ALWAYS state. But in certain seasons of life: transitions, being sick or stuck, or being sick and stuck in a transition–we may default. To anger and unhappiness. And justification. Or at least I do.

And it is here. In the place of self pity that we need to get to it. We need to connect. We need to stop making lists and keeping score and instead peel off the prescriptions and truly see the beauty of the ordinary.

The angry socks? They are actually the very same ones your husband wears while he paces at work and provides and stresses and succeeds and belly flops and comes home to you. They are the same ones that you wear at your job, sacrificing and juggling and trying to do it all as well as you possibly can.

Our feet are the vehicles for our lives. No more are these socks just a chore, they could be a catalyst. You know, for that change that is aching to take place.

And the screaming kids, maybe they are squealing or clamoring for your attention because they are still young enough to think you are a superhero and can solve all their problems. Get on your knees and try your best. That's all they want.

The X Factor is just an outpouring of ourselves into the large, vast cistern that is thankfulness for our people and thankfulness for life, and thankfulness that we have this mess to make and unmake. This last year has held so much loss for so many that I know. And if there is anything good that comes from ugly, downright, no-good bad junk, it is that they now see the world differently. The anger rises slower. The resentment morphs into reflection. And the hard stuff seems like blessing.

Not sure where you are with your love today, or the love you hope to find one day, but pour into it. Make yourself available. Turn on the spout, let your heart flow again.

For those that have and hold, let's enjoy it. Every chance it occurs to you and even when it doesn't. Amp up the outward showings: the hugs. the kisses, the kind words, which leads to the hushing of the sharp words. The prayer together. The jokes. Tell them and laugh loudly. Even if you are the worst at jokes. I would know. He will still laugh. Hold hands. Touch bare toes.

Do the work. And then reward yourself by letting yourself enjoy the fog that has lifted. It is truly magnificent when you take the time to look up, to let it in. To let yourself shift shape into a force. One that joy can not stay away from.

These last two weeks have been some of the most joyful in my recent memory, and it has nothing to do with an address change. Well maybe a little. I have more space to feel and live and breathe and think. But more so my heart has moved- ever so slightly. Like the fog that twists and turns; I'm trying to let it change me. The love that I'm the luckiest to live.

We're in this together,

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