Monthly Archives: October 2016

When Suddenly Comes Around

Life is really all about waiting.

 

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When you’re a little kid you wait to grow up. Upon growing up you wait to get married. After  waiting to get married you wait for the right moment to have a baby until you realize that there is no perfect juncture to adding a new life to two . It just happens and you go forth into the adventure dumber than you realize.

Once the baby comes along you’re waiting for rolling over, coos, and giggles. You can’t wait for baby to sit up or crawl, or whatever milestone you’re expecting.  It’s all so exciting to think about, and then suddenly it’s happening. The milestones have been met and baby is moving on and you’re waiting to see what’s next.

Exhaustion is a fiend that hunts you, each day bringing a round of waiting. Waiting to not be tired, waiting to take a shower, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth. Waiting for snacks, for meals, for lunch, in line at the bank and the grocery and the library. Waiting for your kid to sleep through the night (the cruelest lie the world ever told!), waiting for a schedule to kick in, and for someone to tell you that you’re doing things right. In all of that waiting the world keeps spinning and you find yourself in love with the craziness of it all, even while secretly wishing it all away.

You potty train, spending  countless minutes and hours waiting for the kid to do what they’re supposed to do on their little potty. Books are read, dances and songs invented, and modesty is lost during downtime in and outside of the powder room.

Even after potty training happens you’re still on watch outside of bathrooms everywhere you go. One kid is scared of falling in, another one doesn’t want their tushy to touch the seat and learns to go while you dangle them by the armpits over public toilets. All this time  spent in bathrooms triggers your need to pee so it becomes a family affair, with your kids all piled in the stall with you announcing to strangers about the color of your underwear or size of your bum.

You may even make friends in the restroom.

The kids get older and the waiting is different, but still waiting. Tying shoes, riding bikes, reading books all happen with us parents lingering in the background, coaxing the kids along, encouraging them on their journey of learning to do stuff they need to know how to do.

You wait and you wait and you wait…and then suddenly comes around. The kids are big and doing life on their own.

Piano lessons, play days with friends, overnights (or almost overnights), classes; you bide your time during all of the activities that kids get to enjoy. You get your things done (or nap in the car) while they’re getting their other things done away from you.

You are less and less of the equation in their lives – still there, but different.

“Nothing,” becomes the standard response when you ask them what they did, because you are a little less welcome in their world as they discover who they are away from you. And because sometimes they literally don’t remember what they did.

Maybe some really hard things come your way, things you weren’t on the lookout for. These things might be hardest because you’re watching while life happens to your kid. It’s one thing for you to be in the belly of the whale but entirely new and dreadful thing to be a bystander while your kid struggles in the dark. It may even dawn on you that it’s not your hand they need and you turn your prayers in another direction.

Then suddenly comes around and that kid is just fine,and soaring and you’re onto the next one getting them through their own personal pit.

You find yourself able to think more and more about yourself during the time in between. You may even discover that  you’re on standby for your adult life, too, You may wake up at night with the feeling like you left the oven on, that there’s something you’ve forgotten. Perhaps your nerves are shot because do they know about present perfect tense and algebra and who the minor and major prophets are?  Do they? You may start to wonder just what the heck life is all about and if you can make it and how you’re going to get these half grown people of yours the rest of the way there AND JUST WHERE IS THERE?

Where will they end up?

Then God will remind you through whispers and sunshine-filled days, and rainy days, too, that he’s got this and that your job is in the waiting, and that he will do the work.

…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Where they end up is where you wait on the Lord – you trust in him to get them there because not everything is your job. Sure, you can worry about not doing everything right, about not filling them up with everything that they’ll need to get through life unscathed but that’s not the point, is it?

Life wouldn’t be life without skinned knees, broken hearts, and massive failures, and God wouldn’t be God if he couldn’t handle it.

He’s got this. Really.

Water to wine, fishes and loaves – something called the Universe… from nothing.

Remember?

So let him handle it, and while you wait teach your heart to trust him. He is good, so good, and faithful.  So faithful.

His promises are true.

Whatever you find yourself waiting on, and I’m preaching to myself here, trust that its going to turn out. Jobs, kids, husbands, wives, presidents, school, peace…wait, and find your strength renewed. No need to be weary or faint, or to consider running away from home, because you were created for this life, the one that you’re living right now.

Be brave in the waiting, friends…

 

because when suddenly comes around it’s going to be AMAZING.

 

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On Forgiveness

Since walking away from shoulds and have-to’s this year, I have to say my life feels a lot lighter, a lot less complicated.

One thing that’s been plaguing me, though, is bitterness.

Something about being 40 causes me to ruminate, but if I’m truthful it’s always  been something I’m good at. I think the kids being older has given me more time to process the last 20 years of my life or so. While I don’t find I’m filled with regret, it recently dawned on me that my heart had become unforgiving toward some people and situations in my life.

I got to spend 24 hours away with a friend this weekend, a friend I haven’t seen in over a year, and it was wonderful. I had a 90 minute drive to myself with a lot of quiet (and a little loud singing)  to let my thoughts roll around.

I caught myself reliving some of my most painful memories and wishing that some of that pain could be bounced back onto those who hurt me and mine.

Ah, I thought, there it is. The thorn that’s been keeping my heart from moving forward is called bitterness and I’ve been unknowingly feeding it over the years.

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I have a strong sense of justice, but like Jonah I forget that God’s ways are merciful, that his desire is to his bring us all into relationship with him, even the worst of the worst.  I should be thankful that I don’t receive his justice rather than pondering the justice I feel others deserve.

I’m sure there’s a thing or two about that in the Bible.

 


 

We both arrived at the Inn we were staying at, after exploring all 14 rooms decided we needed to eat.  Shanna still has little ones, three under 4, plus  three others from 7 to 15. Her large number of children combined with my four means  we can swap funny stories and parenting tips fairly evenly.  We discussed kids, homeschooling, husbands, politics, and religion.  I’ve always loved talking to Shanna because we can talk about Deep Things but never lose sight of the only thing that matters: our faith in Christ.

Everyone should have friends like this woman, and I’m grateful to have her, and several others, in my life.

After we finished our meal and a desert we didn’t really like I confessed that I had a forgiveness problem. I confessed that I wanted to write mean letters to people who had caused pain in my life and let them know I thought they were douche bags.

Is douche bag a dirty word?

I think it might be.

It turns out that Shanna had recently listened to a sermon on forgiveness.

“Forgiveness means that you can see that person and treat them as if they did nothing wrong,” she told me. I nodded because I understood, not because I thought that would be an easy task.

I told her of how hurt I was by people who I had mistaken as friends, who I had invested in, only to have them choose malicious actions. Something terrible happened to our family ten years ago, something that cost us what felt like everything. While we continued to move forward my heart was still broken,  and every negative event that came after stacked up on top of that crack, even sinking into it, deepening the fissure. I didn’t realize I was only stacking up the hurtful moments.

Even after all this time recounting the events that unfolded caused me pain, deep pain, and a rash of hives.

“But think about it,” Shanna said, “You’re hurting more than they are. You’re thinking about it and they probably don’t. They’ve moved on.”

Our conversation took us other places, then we were tired and ready to go back to our room so we could climb into bed and talk more, which we did.

 


 

In the minutes before I fall asleep I always pray, and thank God for getting through the day. As I lay there that night, after our conversation on forgiveness, I asked God to help me find grace and mercy for those who had hurt my family, and for a reprieve from the bitterness. I asked him to help me forgive.

And that was it.

I fell asleep quickly and I woke up with a much lighter heart.

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Seems that it is as easy as that. Turning away rather than turning towards the painful moments in my life is all it took. My shoulders didn’t feel heavy and I was no longer stacking stuff up on top of hurt.

Here’s the rub: I can go back to that old way any time I’d like; if I CHOOSE to. The decision is mine. I can tend the root of bitterness or I can cut it away and plant something more life giving, like grace and mercy. It’s muscle memory, really, and I’m retraining my brain muscle. Every time I encounter acerbic thoughts I must turn away. Every single time.

My shield of faith is taking a few knocks, to be sure.

In my own strength I could not defeat my vengeful thoughts, but allowing Christ to do the work for me, with me, gets the job done. It’s only been four days but I’m reveling in the beauty of forgiveness, of letting myself move away from the trap of of the past.

The thing that has surprised me the most was how ungrateful I had become. I thought I had long ago conquered that beast. I thought I had figured out a thing or two. I think it’s like this: sometimes pain is a companion. I treated my hurt like a badge of honor, like I’d really been through something.

I had accidentally begun to downplay all the really awesome people God had put in my life and I was making idols of the ones who had not been so awesome.

So I’m starting a Gratitude Project.

I’m going to let people know how much they mean to me. I’ll write handwritten notes, Facebook messages and e-mails. Today I took a deep breath and thanked someone in person for what they meant to me,  and that little act unwound something that had been binding up my heart. It was so good I can’t wait to do it again.

I’ll keep you posted as I go, and maybe you’d like to join in as well? 

Projects are always better with friends.

 

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