Rage and Peace

20160415_194247The wooden blocks scream across the room. Impact. Collapse. There are new scars on the wall.

Rage has often been an unwanted associate of mine. An unsuitable and shameful companion for a daughter of the King. He leaves as quickly as he comes. Stealing any number of moments and leaving me with his wreckage. I dissolve in frantic sobs. He didn’t bother to take the hurt with him and that’s what I needed.

God how can I be your child and struggle like this? This is not the fruit of your spirit! What has to happen for this to finally be out of my life for good? Am I just deceived about my relationship with you? God, I don’t have anything left to give. I thought I had come to you. I thought I was in a good place. How am I supposed to change if I thought I was doing well and then I’m completely blind-sided by something I didn’t even know was in my heart? I feel powerless God.

I do everything big, even hurt. Vivid deep cuts. I wrestle with such an acute sense of failure. I have so many good ideas, so much ambition, so much desire and such a ridiculously limited frame. I stumble constantly. I feel the weight. Like I’m disappointing everyone. That I’m not really helping anyone. That I’m not going to achieve what I was supposed to have. I can give till I’m bone dry and still feel like I didn’t scratch the surface. Your failing! Your failing! Your failing! The accusation is constant and if the slightest confirmation comes that it’s true and I am pierced.

Rage rushes in like he’s going to protect me from that pain. He lashes out at anything close. Beating it back. Flailing at anything near enough to hurt me. But He’s too late. The accusations have already flown away, leaving only their shadows- their venom. And the one’s left close enough to hit are the one’s who love me. Rage doesn’t discriminate. He doesn’t even look around. He just rages. And he breaks everything.

He breaks me.  

Three days ago my husband prayerfully encouraged me to read Philippians. My obedience was two days too late. Still, the Holy Spirit is persistent with His gentle counsel. This morning there was space and I heard Him whisper to turn to the Word. God rarely gives me the kind of answers I think I need. But He knows better. And when He answers it’s in full.

Phillipians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I need peace and I need a guard!!! I need something to stand at the door when rage tries to charge and say “No. You are not allowed through.” To protect me from the onslaught of thoughts and feelings that yank me from the arms of the Spirit and back into the control of that flesh man. I need a buffer between me and the voices. Between me and the pain. And that guard is Peace. How? How do I employ peace to guard my heart and mind?

I really resist twelves steps. I think they’re hokey. And I think we often serve methods instead of serving God. But there are times when God knows that I need it broken down. I need to see the progression of obedience and He lays it out before me like a table to eat from.

Course One: Make the trade; Instead of worrying pray about everything.

Whether it’s my laundry, my shortcomings as a mother, the needs of the church, the lost, etc., worrying forces me to hold on to it and internalize it. But prayer releases it and delegates it! This is so powerful. It frees me up to feel the brokeness around me without resenting it. I usually vacillate between trying to save the world and trying to shut it out because I know I can’t. I struggle to get all my children dressed each day (we’re teetering on tribal in appearance around here). How am I supposed to support the women around me, or write a book, or reach the lost? It doesn’t take me long to start to resent and resist the needs around me. I feel powerless to do anything about them. But now I have a recourse- and it’s instant, inexhaustible and effective. I don’t even have to leave my kitchen! Pray about everything.

Course Two: Confession- tell God what you need

Wait… I have permission to have needs! FREEDOM! I know I have needs. In fact, in the vein of doing everything bigger I have big needs. My husband and I half-jokingly call them special needs. I forgot that God doesn’t say, “hey to follow me you must not have needs so you can focus on serving others.” He knows I have needs; special needs even! So he says “Tell me!” What is he really saying “yeah, I’ll take care of that.” WHAT!? That’s crazy!!! The God who sets up nations and tears them down, who makes universes out of atoms, is going to meet my needs! No wonder He says don’t worry. What do I have to worry about? I don’t have to be whole! I don’t have to be the full package. He already accounted for my needs. My lack. I’m free to just acknowledge them and trust Him to meet them.

Course Three: Thanksgiving- Give thanks for what God is doing?

Part of my struggle is that I forget that it’s really God who is at work and I don’t take into account what He has already done. This isn’t hanging on me? The fate of mankind is not hanging in the balance of my obedience, my perfection, my execution. That was the role of Jesus! That fate was hanging on His perfect obedience. My obedience on this earth is so that I can experience Him more fully. So, remember that God is working it out and give thanks for all that He has done.

Suddenly, Peace floods into my soul like light into a dark room.

And He takes up His post at the door of my soul. I don’t even really understand it. God said I wouldn’t. But I can feel Him there. Guarding my heart and mind. I’m not scared anymore. Of the trial, of the pain, of myself. I have Peace.

 

Father,

I’m so grateful for your Word. It really is living. Thank you that you knew what truths I would need. Thank you that you let me restart and you don’t count my sins against me. Thank you that you can set me free of the darkest strongholds.  Thank you for your Peace. Thank you for healing my heart and for helping me to see the way out. Thank you for it all. Thank you for the friends and family around me that are watching and praying for me. Encourage them today. And anyone else, who is discouraged and scared and needs a guard over the hearts and minds… give them Peace. Meet them and speak to their hearts as you faithfully have mine. I love you Jesus. Be glorified today.  Amen.

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In the Raw

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This morning. No filter.

6:55 a.m. – We’re crawling into bed.

After the second round of delirious laughter I gave up. I knew my husband would be able to actually go to sleep for fifteen minutes. I knew I would not. I knew the kids would be storming down the hall in precisely four minutes now.

Besides when the baby woke up at 4:30  this morning, fraught with mucus and furry, I had already had eight and a half hours of sleep. See the night before I had also passed the sleeping hours holding a sick baby- not sleeping. By last night I was so exhausted that I fell asleep talking to my husband sometime between seven and eight o’clock. He must have put everyone to bed without me. I apparently did feel the need to don pajamas when I migrated to my own bed. Perhaps I subconsciously suspected I wouldn’t be there long.

I couldn’t find the snot sucker thing. The kids think it’s a toy. Everyone thinks it’s a toy! Why aren’t bulb syringes (in case you wanted to know their real name) sold in the toy aisle. I couldn’t find anything. My house is a maze… or a minefield. No burglar would ever make it through my house. Ever. After an hour of failing to get my daughter back to sleep my husband joined the cause.

And we talked.

I’ve been trying to fight with my husband for at least two days now. I could feel a big ugly one bubbling up inside. God in his mercy diverted me with an impossibly busy schedule and then yesterday right as I was about to unlock the floodgate my phone went dead… and the car charger refused to work. In fact by the time I found a charger and actually got my battery signal to flash more than “1%. Critically Low Battery” I was too busy to go back and unlock the floodgate. Now, I had slept enough to wonder if everything I was thinking yesterday was real.

Turns out it wasn’t. One of the unfortunate side effects of sleep deprivation, in me, is I create realities that don’t exist. This morning was a very merciful reminder not to fight tired. One of my children gets very tired and when they do the world falls apart. Their legs are broken, their bed has nails… tears of delirium spill over as they lament of life (I’m not joking. This is what happens every time he stays up past about nine.) It may sound crazy but it’s me without my adult justifications. We’ve started singing a little song in our house…

“Remember.

When you’re tired,

what you feel,

well it isn’t,

isn’t real.”

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Guess 4:00 a.m. is just the best time we goofy kids have for unbroken conversation.

What’s real is my husband loves me. What’s real is our life takes faith. What’s real is that I needed to hear him say that it is okay that we’re both really tired. It didn’t feel okay. It felt like failure. It always feels like failure. Weariness feels like failure. Messes feel like failure. The process feels like failure. I asked him this morning “Why didn’t we space the kids out more? Wouldn’t it have made more sense?”

I daydreamed for a moment that I was lying in my bed with no toddler and a newborn in my arms. A very different reality. We would likely be a lot less tired. There would likely be a lot less messes. My fifth child would still be two years off. But then our upcoming trip to Haiti flashed before my eyes. The passports, the starting line of something new. And I realize we wouldn’t be there. Our family wouldn’t be ready yet- we would still be in that holding pattern.

Sometimes I doubt the way God chooses to do things. In the moment, in the furnace, it seems like there must be a better way. An easier way. But is walking around a mountain range really “easier” than passing over it? Sure there’s less resistance but it also takes a lot more time. And… the view isn’t as good.

So this morning I remembered.

There’s grace for having a large family. There is grace for having kids close in age. There is grace to obey the convictions I have. There is not grace to doubt God and there is not grace to take myself too seriously. Nothing zaps me of strength and joy faster. When I can laugh at the fact that sleep deprivation affects performance and I’m just not going to be as effective on three hours of sleep as I am eight then that weight of failure is broken. I’m able to accept where I am, and where my life, my kids, my husband are, and from that place I can look up and trust God to fill in whatever really needs to be filled in. It doesn’t mean it won’t still be crazy hard. It will just mean it won’t be impossible… and I might be able to enjoy it.

(Big Brother reading to sister and cooking breakfast with the little Big Guy. These are moments I was able to enjoy this morning)

 

The Grief of Change

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She glowed with the weary wonder of a woman who has just had a baby. I was proud of her, excited for her, sympathetic of her sleeplessness. I listened to her story and inevitably found it winding into mine. That morning she nursed her daughter for the first time, and I had nursed mine for the last.

I was so tired today. I put on my game face, packed the kids in the van and managed to have a sense of humor when I arrived at the library with no wagon, stroller or back-pack to contain little ones. I spent the afternoon coloring, drawing and doing flips on the floor instead of cleaning and doing multiplication facts. But it was definitely and act of will. I wanted to turn on the t.v. and waste my life watching time-lapse cooking videos on facebook. I mean who doesn’t want to know how make sweet potato crust quiche?

I tried not to panic at my disposition. I tend to be a little afraid of my moods so I have to repeatedly tell myself that everyone has “off” days. Still, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was flying under the radar.

Grief is exhausting.

I’m watching a friend lose her mother right now. Every one of her minutes is both too long and too short- full of love and full of pain. It makes sense that she is exhausted. We expect dying to bring grief. But there is a grief to living as well and it’s usually hidden in change.

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Passport Applications Filed

My house is bustling with change. Passports are being purchased, books written, relationships maturing and boys participating in sports at long last. Our family has grown up. It has a completeness to it and with great relief I can see an end to the diapers… and the pumping… and the hormones. The years of hunkering down and minimizing activity are coming to an end. It’s time for us to go and do some of the things that we were created to do. And that is exciting. But anytime we reach out for the new thing we must let go of the old thing.

And letting go of something precious (even if it is old) is hard.

This season has been precious to me. By God’s grace, I found a beauty in the simplicity and hiddeness of having children. So many times God brought me to the end of myself and to where reality actually begins. To His nature, and His presence. There was a relentlessness to it that I struggle to put into words. But there was also a joy that is equally as inaudible.

I know God is not done bringing me to the end of myself nor will the next season be devoid somehow of joy. Those are not things specific to seasons of life but how He does it is changing. And that is why I’m grieving- I will miss this how. The little feet and tiny cries and constant desire to be held. I’ve come to know it. I’ve come to understand it. I’ve come to love it.

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So today, I gave myself permission to be tired and recognized that I’m grieving. Even if I am ready and eager to move on. Then I held my baby extra long in the shower and let the water wash over us. She laid her head on my shoulder and I breathed in, certain of how wondrously short this life is and how rare that moment will become.