Monday, December 5, 2016

The weary world

After a particularly hard day last week, my restless toddler was not feeling the need for sleep at bedtime.  She was out of sorts and after several requests for extra hugs and discussions, I finally went into her room and got down on the floor next to her bed to help her relax.  I needed her to go to sleep because bedtime begins the two hours of quiet in my day.  I had already changed into my pajamas, and I wanted a mug of hot chocolate and time to sit down.


I waited and listened for her breathing to slow.  I closed my eyes and went through my enormous to-do list and mentally ticked through all of the items I needed to take care of in the coming days.  December is hard on folks and moms and music teachers and my skin and my heart was feeling a little thin.  I felt like I wasn't doing anything well at all, and I was feeling a little sorry for myself.  I was exhausted and weary and just needed a good cry.

I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders.  

I asked Him to meet me and show me what I needed to see in this. 

My toddler finally settled and I tiptoed out of the room.  My husband told me my friend, Kim, had called while I was in O's room.  Kim shared the news that one of my dearest friend's father had suffered an apparent heart attack while at church here in town, and that it was not looking good.  I felt urgency immediately rise and I knew that wherever my friend was going to meet her father, I had to go to be with her.   

I knew I had a thousand things to do, and I knew I was probably in for a late night, I knew that I had a huge day at work ahead of me, but I just wanted to be with my friend.  My husband suggested getting dressed and texting Kim, who alerted us to the news, for any updates because she was still at the church.  While I was pulling on my sweatpants, Kim replied that it was extremely serious.  I flew out the door and willed my town to change all of the speed limit signs to greater than 35mph and drove as quickly as I could without risking a ticket.  

I rebuked Satan and pleaded with God to intervene.  There was no reason for this man to have a heart attack.  He was healthy as could be, active in the community and in his church, and the other half to a sweet lady.  And to make matters worse, my friend's husband had lost both of his parents earlier in the spring.  Three parents in one year would be too many.  It was not fair that it looked like another loss was coming.  

I was less than a block away from the church when Kim texted that the man had passed away.  I pulled into the parking lot and it was ablaze from all of the rescue vehicles' flashing lights.  Kim met me at the front doors of the lobby and we waited outside for my friend and her husband to arrive.  I felt sick all over and I saw the many people standing inside crying and looking distraught.  This man and his wife are much loved by their church, and it was evident on everyone's faces.       

My friend and her husband arrived a few minutes later and some of us moved into the sanctuary to be with them and her mother.  There are moments in your life when it feels like your heart cracks down the middle like the drawings.  I was wrecked with grief for my friend, and I would have done anything in that moment to make it all better for her.  

But there was nothing to be done. 

The next morning I walked into school and the weight of my day felt a little lighter.  Even with all of the things facing me for the day, I knew that none of them were life and death matters.  I would not suffer if things didn't go exactly to plan, and none of it really mattered in the grandest scheme of things.  I had prepared, it would all happen, and then it would pass and my life would move forward.

Meanwhile, my sweet friend's world had suddenly stopped.

When I prayed the night before for perspective, I was hoping for a gentle Voice or insight from a friend or devotional.  I was not expecting the Lord to show me through the loss of a great man.  I was not expecting to see it on my friend's face when I met her at the church.  I was not expecting to find it with news of another family facing cancer and babies in the hospital because suffering is always right around the corner when you look past your own troubles.

I was just not expecting perspective to come wrapped in a life-shaped box.

My heart has been feeling very tender towards loss.  There is a profound weariness that comes with this holiday season.  We enter this time of year with great expectation, but it also magnifies of how imperfect our lives really are.  We beat ourselves up over getting all the things done, and there are families wondering how in the world they are going to make it through the next moment, let alone the season, without their loved ones beside them.

I've come to believe that this season is all about Life and Death--the promise in a baby who came to the world to save us from our sins and to later die on a cross.  The baby grew into a Man who preached loving God and loving and serving others--but He did not say a word about the many things we fuss and worry with during this season.  No one is going to give you a sticker if you have the most beautiful decorations or the best parties.  No one really cares if your kids sing perfectly in tune and know all of their lines in the program.

What is important is how we interact with others.  How we show them we love them.  How we treat the people we come into contact with during this season and every day.  How we open our eyes and recognize the true troubles and hurt in our community.  How we honor others with attention and service, and how we give the weary world a place to rest in its brokenness.

If we all move forward and survive--that is more than enough.



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Final.

It's quiet and cloudy at my house this morning.  I'm sitting by the tree with freshly wrapped presents underneath and sipping on my coffee.  I can see the reflection of the twinkly lights in the glass of the windows and my heart is quiet and peaceful for the moment.

I'm thankful to be here.  


It's not a secret that I love the holiday season.  I love hearing the words of Isaiah.  I love all of the wonder and joy and bustle.  I love working through lists and finding just the right items for the people I love.  I love the decor and the way it all comes together.  The music gets me in just the right mood, and I anticipate the many things we will be doing in the next month or so.

I love being with my family far and near.  These people have shaped my life, my husband's life, and they are shaping our children's lives as well.  Stories from yesteryear, eating special family desserts, discovering our rich history, learning more about each other--these are the conversations which are shared freely during the holiday season.  Happy memories and sad moments and realizations that it will never be quite like this again as each and every year brings changes.

I'm thankful to be here.  

This past week I've watched the evening news and thought about those poor children and their families involved in the bus accident in Tennessee.  I cannot imagine what those parents are going through this holiday season, and I'm sure they would give everything they own to bring back their babies.  I also read a poignant article regarding family get togethers and how they might change if we decided to interact with those we loved the most as if it would be the final time we would ever see them.  Perhaps we would let go of the little things that irritate us and focus on what really matters.

Those Tennessee mothers did not realize when they kissed their babies goodbye on the morning of the accident that it would be the final time they would be together.  Sometimes we have the luxury of a final goodbye, and other times life ends before we have time to properly say what needs to be said.  Those final goodbyes are not the moments to hash out silly disagreements and irritations, but to affirm and encourage.  If we knew we might never see those faces again, we might decide to use our time and words a little differently, and it might just soften our hearts towards those who tend to get under our skin.

Be thankful to be there.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

This is what you were created for, baby girl.

My daughter dances.  

She twirls and moves and externalizes the music she hears.  She is small and compact, delicate and quiet.  She is ok with being herself and doesn't need constant validation.  She is sweetness embodied.

Sweet little Lily.
Lauren Thorn Photography
I admire people who are comfortable in their own skin.  I love when people make no apologies for who they are and what they are about.  I'm always amazed how they can simply be themselves without worry for others' opinions.  They are content in their spaces and in their occupations.  They flourish in being who they were created to be.

I always wonder what their secret is.  
How do they know who they are, and how are they able to be content?

Stepping away from parts of social media has been good for me.  I'm the kind of person who is not always comfortable in her own skin.  I constantly feel the need to manage others' opinions of and relationships with me, and I only want the spotlight on me if it is showing me in my best light.  I want you to like me, I want you to agree with me, and I want to show you that I am someone who can be trusted to do the right thing in the right way.  A thumbs up on social media sites is always a cheap thrill.

However, even though I really want you to like me and will turn cartwheels to please you, I strive to be authentic and I'm not going to be someone that I'm not to make you happy, and so when I don't measure up to standards I feel immense shame because if I've failed, then I'm not good enough.  I also don't like feeling like I have to work to make you happy with me--I just want you to like me because I'm me, dang it! 

And I want others to be authentic as well--even in their messy selves.  I have low tolerance for those who change and turn themselves inside out to be what they perceive to be the acceptable and popular version of themselves in different situations.  I am frustrated when I feel like I can't get to the core of a person because I'm not sure who they are because they keep changing themselves in different social places like a chameleon.  I don't want to be around people who wear different masks or talk out of both sides of their mouths.  I used to think that this behavior was reserved for teenagers trying to find themselves, but I've seen it carry over into adulthood as well.  

I've enjoyed using the mental energy I would have devoted to parts of social media to discover the parts of me that I like because I like them and I don't need anyone else to validate my preferences.  There is a strong part of me which wonders what I am supposed to do with myself and my life.  Am I doing what I'm intended and created to do?  There have been whispers in my spirit reminding me of who I am and Who I belong to.

And I am reminding myself that I was not created for your pleasure nor your approval.    

*****
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