The Lie of Doing

I had originally written this piece a couple months ago. After spending the morning on the floor with my son as I tried to heal from a glorious battle with the stomach flu it came back to me. Enjoy.

 

Before I knew what was happening I was already five minutes down imagination lane. I had been talking to my sister and afterward it occurred to me that only her son is home with her during the day. With the imminent arrival of my third child at the fore front of my mind the juxtaposition was too much- one glorious child.

Quickly, my mind fashioned a highly romantic rendition of the last two months with only Jonas in my care. Playtime would be so quiet. Naps would be so simple. It escalates. Life would just be so much easier if I didn’t home school. I could get so much more done!

Thud.

The words land in my conscience like dead weight. That’s what I really want isn’t it? To just get it all done. It’s an obsession really; me, moms, just people in general- we’re all obsessed with getting stuff done. Industry is the great human idol to which I so often bend my knee.

Oh, if only it were that obvious. But the most powerful lies are the ones you never actually say. Instead, I wake up with that subconscious soundtrack playing through my brain- Got to do, got to do, got to do some more. Without realizing it, I start being pushed through the hours by a never ending list of pressures. Pushed passed my kids, pushed passed my Lord, pushed past my own limits. But no matter how resourceful I am, how motivated, how organized, there’s simply more to do than can be done and I’m cursed before I ever begin.

Sweet, tender, mercy.

I am not cursed. I am blessed by a God whose Gospel is what He did not a list of what I must do. The lie, exposed, is thin in the light. Soon it dissipates all together and I’m back in the present- here and engaged. Here where my sons are home under giant quilts. We pour over library books and drink our fill of warm milk. The subconscious lie-song silenced, the background music is now thundering play and relentless inquisition. Here, as in that first Garden, perfection is communion not accomplishment.

I pull myself from the tub and retire to my room. I’ve remembered a little truth and experienced a little victory in the deep of my soul. Before sleep can find me, my child does. Tearfully pulled from afternoon slumber he reaches for me. He knows it’s not yet time to be awake.

“Do I have to go back downstairs?” he whispers.

“No” I whisper back, pulling him onto the pillows “Stay with me.”

He tucks in, sockless toes wedged between my knees. I wrap myself around him and drown in the sweet swirl of gold-kissed curls. We breathe. And do nothing.

 

-It’s beautiful

 

Silence

It’s quiet. For a young mom of three, silence is priceless. Unplanned silence is even more priceless. Unplanned silence that isn’t the result of your children getting into something they shouldn’t be… well that’s just sacred.

 

And here I am in this sacred moment. The baby strapped to my chest and the boys joyfully helping daddy clear the snow from the drive. It’s likely winter’s last stand and here, with a glass of sweet red wine, I chop potatoes for a humble meal and am content.

 

I think you can only tell who you truly are in silence. What do I do when audible reprieve lasts longer than immediate gratification? Am I restless? Am I lonely? Am I anxious? Do I fill the blessed void with noise? An hour of true silence will prove me much more than all the day’s activities. When I am alone, and still am I okay in my own company?

 

And what of God’s silence? What do we do in the face of often mute sovereignty? So often I strive to beg affirmation from His lips. To invoke an emotional response that tells me I have value. As if the cross was not enough. Did He not already tell me that I was worth everything to Him? Oh, but too often I’m anxious in His presence. Eager to prove my worth or insinuating that He needs to readdress His goodness. It is far easier to sing songs and read words than it is to “Be still and know that I am God”.

 

How I long, oh sweet Jesus, how I long to be as an old friend. Resting comfortably in your undeniable character; mirroring divine peace in your holy silence. In that place where a glance is as telling as a thousand words and where I know and truly am known.  Sweet Lord, let me be so.

 

Things forgotten

In my life few showers go uninterrupted. This one must be savored. I breathe in the rising steam and look down at my wedding ring- a silver band inscribed in Hebrew. The conviction to never remove it is inexplicably replaced by curiosity to examine it. I slide the ring from my hand and roll it between my thumb and index finger. Words!

I had forgotten.

My husband and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary.  How impossibly a decade has passed. Now my mind is tumbling backwards through the years; passed the children, and the pets, and the many places we’ve lived. Back to his apartment where we sit on the floor. He suggests that we engrave the inside of our rings. A reminder for when we might want to give up on each other, pull the promise from our hand- from our hearts, and lay it down. We decide on five simple virtues.

Love, Faith, Grace, Truth, Humility

Now the band lies flat in the palm of my hand and begs a question, “Have you forgotten to live it?” The truth is that when we chose those word I was naive; blissfully, unavoidably naive.  In my mind said virtues were ornamental; rare vases on the mantle of life. But there is nothing ornamental about God love. It’s as messy and as common as clay. Things like grace and humility are the daily bricks of a strong marriage. I slip the ring back on my finger and smile in relief.

I have not forgotten.

Ten years of marriage has netted me both a lover and friend. He regularly leaves me in awe and I am perhaps even happier now than I was then. But this I have learned: without great attentiveness the heart that overflows with accolades and admiration can easily become a storehouse of fears and failed expectations. Loving deeply is messy. Virtues are simple enough but the application is hard and routine.  Come to think of it- I best fulfill the standard of those words, not when I see love as clay in my hands, but when I realize that I am clay in the hands of Love.

… but it will take another uninterrupted shower to think on that one.

 

It has begun…

Plunge.

The icy waters of risk and reward swallow me up. I’m a little afraid and a lot alive. It’s just another digital saga, in a world of digital sagas and I’m half a decade late. Still, with this post, I have become a blogger and though I find the status less than endearing it is a place to begin.

Begin?

To loose that first thread in the fearless web of words. The world goes silent. The girl who’s mind races with essays all the sweet day long, presented with an audience, now finds herself dumb. What do I say? Will people actually read this? What if I fail? Can you “fail” a blog?

The crux.

Things that matter most in my life are hauntingly ambiguous. Living a life of faith, parenting with wisdom, or being a good friend: these things come with no parameters. How I yearn for the simple validating confirmation that I’ve done it right. Like the e-mail you get when you’ve paid your bills. But alas, the majority of my life is improvisation, obedience and hope in the face of the immeasurable. I never get it all “right”.

Lesson.

We yearn so desperately for that thing that will validate us. We want to arrive. But we are not designed for an end. We are, intrinsically nomadic. Some of us on a journey to find truth. Some of us on a journey because we found truth. Some of us wandering because we’ve lost our way. Life is a process: ambiguous and splendid. Its terrifying unknowns and sweet secrets pull up our inner man. We hang on and find we are clutching the air. We let go and find our hearts full of riches. Seasons pass and work to keep our gaze upward and our hearts soft. Then in flash, in a rare time-picture, we catch a glimpse of ourselves…

Sweet surprise.

Without any paper merits or public ceremony to tell us so we find that we are wiser, kinder and more humble than we once were. We have become more. In truth, I would still like that e-mail confirmation telling me that I did a great job encouraging my husband. Or maybe an offer for publication so I can consider myself a writer. Today I’m not likely to get either but I did write my first blog.

I hope that I am more for the process.