Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hide and Seek

Colossians 3:3:  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 

1 Timothy 6: 1-6:  
 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

A long, long time ago, before marriage and babies, I was a young woman of about 19 and I had some fairly deeply rooted thoughts about what my life should look like.  The "should" generally came from public opinion at large, that which society feels that a moderately academically successful young woman should look like.  I should be educated, I should establish a career in something fulfilling to me, and at some point I should marry and eventually have children.  

(I need to interrupt myself a bit at this point and just go on record as saying I have no problem whatsoever with a woman being educated beyond high school.  In fact, it is my intention to steer my daughter in that direction, but it is her job to submit to what God's will should be in her life, whether that is what I should desire or not, which will be up to her to figure out.)

Well, I did that.  And in doing so I always felt like a "lady in waiting"----- a lady waiting to have and raise her own children.  I would go to conferences and meetings in my suits and heels and doodle names of future babies in pretty cursive in my notebooks.  I would draw pictures of my dream home----big porch, on a hill, on a farm----when I should have been engaged in the latest Medicaid rule changes.  And at last, eight and a half long years after saying "I do", I became a mother.

As much as I have loved the adventures and joy that is parenting, and as much as I felt like I was no longer "in waiting", I would occasionally feel something else:  invisible.

The more babies, the more laundry, the more cooking and cleaning and mopping and pediatric appointments, the more invisible I felt.  And in my heart I would sometimes panic about this invisibility, worried that I was missing out on something, though I wasn't sure what. 

I was truly disappearing----behind my children.  Behind the endless needs and demands and under the burden of caring for others to the extent that I was just turned inside out, emptied, with very little left to give.

When I would feel that way I would sort of scramble inside myself, desperately seeking to carve out "me" from the mountain of domestic duties.  Sometimes that would look like a new haircut.  It might be a new pinterest activity, or an attempt at renewing a friendship.  And even though society told me that I deserved to have my own life, for some reason extricating myself from Mt. Laundry felt a little like treason.

God has turned my world upside down since moving to Oregon.  Not in an earthquake way.  More like in a snow globe way: one big flip to throw up the snow, and lots of time to see the beauty of it drifting down, down, down, in a very soft, deliberate peacefulness.  Rather than lying monotonously on the bottom, the snow clings to the delicate parts of the figure inside, enhancing its beauty.

One particular Saturday I was working hard for my family. In fact Saturday was usually my "day off" after working all week on household things.  I had indeed worked very hard all week.  On this day I had been meal planning, trying the best I could to speak kindness to my children because I truly wanted to, looking to feed the emotional needs of my husband and kids by being hospitable to them because I truly wanted to, and  . . . . 

I wasn't exhausted.

I was very, very contented.

I was contented in a way I don't think I have been in many years.

As I drove over the bridge coming home from some errands, my heart's cry of thanksgiving filled up the car.  I was so thankful to Jesus for my blessings, for the people I have in my life to serve.  I sought Him for wisdom in how to treat my husband, how to teach my children, and wisdom for how to live my life.  And as I prayed with tears pouring down like rivers, I just sat there and fellowshipped with my Lord a while, and I realized that my life WAS disappearing.

But now, instead of being buried by my children, my life was becoming "hid with Christ in God."  In serving like this, I was serving, in a very small small way-----like He did.  In a patient, loving, altruistic way.  And He was erasing me so that I could be more like Him.

There is a difference in raising children as service to Jesus and becoming more like Him in the process, and raising children by creating little idols for yourself-----even if you are following the letter of the law and doing things the way your are "supposed" to.  One of those things will leave you spent and exhausted.

But the other?  When the Lord blesses your efforts with joy unspeakable and full of glory in the soul, so full that your heart just brims over with love from your Savior and you can't even contain the joy inside? 

Oh sisters. Godliness with contentment is a great, great gain indeed.  And that is all the strength we need for this journey.  No haircut or pinterest board will ever rival that.

My favorite quote goes something like this:
It matters not if the world approves or understands
The only applause we're meant to seek is that of nail-scarred hands.

Lord, help me to remember the wisdom you showed me on the bridge.  Help me to take my exhaustion as a sign of self-reliance, and help me to repent and try again by doing it Your way----by loving my blessed family and friends the way that You love me, in word and in deed and in my soul. 

You are all loved on this day-----

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