So I'm digging into the Word, and pressing into God,
praying, seeking wisdom, crying out...
and realize that I'm also digging myself deeper & deeper into frustration.
'Cause really? With all the praying & memorizing scripture? I'm mostly looking at what's-in-it-for-me. I don't mean to, of course. I mean to be seeking Jesus, for a closer walkalong. And yet...when I really get down to the hardcore truth...I can hardly help myself from wanting that Jesus-intimacy to bring me the end result of happiness, comfort, easier circumstances.
Isn't that the sweet-smelling lie we inhale, like the very air we breathe, here in opulent American society? The lie of the god of mammon. We worship at the feet of Comfort, Success, Happiness.
How can I help myself? Everything in our western christian-culture paints pictures of abundant life, happiness overflowing, success dripping from our name-brand, tithe-paying, ever-purchasing pockets. How can I resist this deliciously-scented, imperceptibly-oppressive, intoxicatingly-opulent promise of the deceiver? How do you?
I guess recognizing it is a step in the right direction. And yeah, despite my knee-jerk longing for easier circumstances, memorizing scripture has been a step in the right direction too. But, dang, it's just hard. Hard to be truly, deeply grateful, amidst this culture of ceaseless craving.
Yesterday was a meltdown day. My feet were cranky the moment they hit the floor, and even with good-Mommy-intentioned hugs & kisses for everyone in the morning, by 10am cranky-feet had morphed into crab-ankles, then crabby-legs, and midway thru kindergarten phonics and first-grade subtraction, there was a lobster-clawed, evil-octopus-tentacled monster-woman in the house.
Cue terrifically-trying-two-year-old Serene:
"Mommeeeee...help me dowwwwwnnn..."
Lobster-clawed-octopus-monster-woman stomps upstairs.
Commence screaming-banshee soundtrack. No, not the child screaming.
Blue acrylic craft paint all over child, table, clothing.
(And no, I did NOT say anything about 'the terrible twos.' I didn't! What? You think I'm thinking that? Who me?)
Oh. Just for perspective, gals? This morning I got my monthly-visit from Aunty-No-You're-Not-Pregnant. Let's just say it's a good thing Kevin is a stay-at-home, self-employed Daddy...otherwise Serene might have been flushed all the way to the Pacific by now.
Anyway. You get the picture. Yesterday was rough. And yesterday I thought I was mad at God. Yesterday I told myself, "I can't handle all this! I'm overwhelmed! My life is unmanageable!" I was ready to quit. home schooling. extracurricular activities. laundry. cooking. diapers. getting out of bed in the morning. everything.
I de-lobster-clawed myself enough to go to creative arts team meeting - one of my favorite church activities. Surrounded by beautifully-flawed, humbly-wise friends, I was finally able to see thru the deceiver's smoke-cloud. God spoke, patiently, quietly, pointing us to Truth.
And God showed me this:
I can't handle all this.
I am overwhelmed.
My life is unmanageable.
I'm mad at the liar. And I've had enough of his sweet-smelling lies.
So that is why I seek Jesus for a closer walkalong. This is my calling, with all it's trials & tribulations. Seven kids. Home schooling. Health-nut vegetarian. Crazy straw-bale house. Free-agent-visionary-self-employed husband. Extreme mountain lifestyle. Deeply invested friendships. Rollercoaster-passionate marriage. And Jesus is enough for all that.
If I can stop breathing in the intoxicating aroma of more...the deceiver's lie of mammon-worship...
If I can embrace my calling...and stop shaking my fist like the wilderness-rebellious Israelites...
The lie tells me home schooling should be easier, more peaceful, more lovely, more fulfilling, more successful than sending the kids to public school. The lie is the intoxicating aroma of more, more, MORE. But what if not? What if this life is my calling, and it's just hard? It's hard to juggle a baby, a toddler, kindergarten, 1st grade, 5th grade, and try to pretend I'm not a total moron when the two oldest kids ask me about 10th grade geometry.
I mean, seriously! Who am I kidding? There is nothing easy or peaceful or lovely or fulfilling about reviewing how-to-find-averages, while simultaneously sounding out digraphs, sending a toddler to the time-out chair, and changing a poopy diaper. (Yeah, you know that's what home schooling really looks like. Mmhmm, I hear you. Calgon, take me away, too.)
My friend Laura is a missionary in Thailand. Sounds glamorous, right? Well, it's not. It's hot. and miserable. and buggy. and really hard on their kids. and the whole thing they were going for didn't turn out to be quite what they thought. But the deal is, it's their calling. I know their hearts, and even if their original perspective was a little too optimistically-hopeful, they are right where God called them to be. In the midst of hardship.
In fact, I can't find one single Biblical story where someone followed God's call and everything just worked out perfectly and they became successful, comfortable, happy, obstacle-free... It's a lie, my friends.
If my God-pursuit is really a pursuit of the intoxicating-deception of more, I will forever be ungrateful, unhappy, unfulfilled.
But if my God-pursuit is seeking His Presence, seeking Wisdom, to help me walk thru the inevitable storms of this overwhelming life...then I might have a chance to be overwhelmed by gratitude.
At the very least, it might help keep me from apoplectic fits of fury when blue paint spontaneously appears on used-to-be-the-cutest pink toddler-pants.
Maybe, just maybe, seeking the Lord will grow just enough of a flicker of His light in me that my kids catch a glimpse of it. That at the end of a meltdown day they would be compelled to stay up late and make cards and notes and colored-hearts and signs for the wall..."We love you, Mommy and Daddy!" - "Thank you for working so hard!" - "Thank you for loving us so much!" - "You're the best Mommy and Daddy ever!"
And that is more, so much more, than I should even be able to hope for, to dream of. Not the more of the deceiver. The More of Grace, the overflow of Gratitude.
Jesus showed up in the creative fingers of my Eliza, the slender arms of my Autumn, the strong legs of my Caleb; He whispered encouragement thru yarn strung on ceiling fans, "I've called you to this, my beloved, and I know it's hard, and I'm here for you, loving you, even when you fall apart."
Does it get any better than this?
Gratitude overflows, Grace abounds. Today I can breathe the free air of His Presence.
Tomorrow might be hard again. The deceiver will be blowing green smoke in my ears, whispering intoxication, "you deserve more than this; you should have more 'me-time'; you got the short end of the stick and everyone else has more, more, more..." I think I'll block it out with words from James. Maybe I'll crank up Ronnie Freeman on the stereo.
How do you resist the intoxicating aroma of more?