I am afraid to let you in.
There. I said it.
You see, I have been hurt before. In hundreds of little ways and in way too many big ways.
And I know what some of you are thinking. You’re a pastor’s wife. You signed up for it. You should have been prepared for that. And the other nagging voice- you can’t talk about this. You just have to deal with it.
I might have been a little naive. And certainly too idealistic.
(Even having been raised as a pastor’s kid and seeing the underbelly of the church, I still didn’t know…).
I thought that if people loved Jesus, they would take his command seriously.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. ~John 13:34,35
I have been hurt too many times to count and I am sad to say that I have responded in kind. I have hurt others, because I didn’t want to feel those feelings again. I have built walls of protection around my heart. I have tested every gesture, every overture of friendship, every opinion. I have searched for authenticity and for genuine hearts.
Because the pain of betrayal is excruciating. I have cried too many tears of pain.
And I know I am not alone. I see it all around me. Followers of Christ hurting each other. For what? Why do we betray? Why do we insult? Why do we exclude? Why do we berate, criticize, bully and demean? Does it ever accomplish anything good?
I would submit to you that it does not. Ever. No one will know that we are Christ’s disciples, His followers, if we don’t love one another. In fact, the very thing that we are trying to communicate to a lost and dying world, will get lost when we hurt and betray other followers of Christ.
This morning, I took my five year old son to his second VBS (Vacation Bible School) of the summer. At the first, he had yelled and pushed and tantrumed his way through drop off on the first day. He was that kid and I was that mom. Frustrated. Angry. But determined to get to the root of what was causing this behavior in my boy.
Turns out he was scared. Terrified really.
And so, my husband and I took time to prepare him for today. We talked about how we have never taken him anywhere that was not a safe place. We reminded him of how he has enjoyed every single place he has been to. We encouraged him to pray and ask God to help him to be brave.
He was still afraid, but my boy walked brave today.
And as I left him, I was reminded that I need to move forward and walk brave too.
Because God has never taken me anywhere that He has not been right by my side, holding me close in the shadow of His wings. In every single place we have lived, God has brought deep, meaningful friendships my way- life long friends who are like sisters to me. I find myself encouraged to pray, to present all of my fears and concerns to the Lord.
I am still scared. I’m pretty sure there will be more people who don’t like my husband. There will be those who will write me off without seeking resolution. I will be uninvited, unfriended, unloved. My kids will be excluded.
But I don’t want to stay mired in my fear, anchored to my hurts. I know that there is so much more that God has for me. So many ways he wants to use me. I need to stop letting fear hold me back.
And so today, I choose to move forward. I choose to walk brave.
Wanna grab some coffee and have a chat?
It is never finished this job of mine. The laundry pile grows into mountainous proportions. The dishes sprawl all over the counters no matter how hard I work to keep up with them. Papers and markers, canvases and paint, placemats and playdough. They accumulate and cover every possible surface.
It all overwhelms.
Sometimes I long for the finish line. Can I just complete something? Anything?!!
“It is finished” ~John 19:30
Jesus’ words ring in my heart this morning. All of these things that I run after, trying to complete, striving to manage, attempting to get done and never quite getting there- what if I saw them through Jesus’ eyes?
“For the joy set before him, he endured the cross…” ~Hebrews 12:2
Jesus completed His work, because his eyes were not on the suffering He would endure, but on the joy set before Him. He willingly went to the cross, because of me. And because of you. Because he knew that we could not finish this work of “fixing” our relationship with God. We can never catch up or make it right no matter how hard we try.
But He could and He did. It is finished. He accomplished what I am incapable of accomplishing and in this there is great comfort. It is done!!! I am able to have a relationship with the God of the Universe and I don’t have to do a single thing. I just get to live out what Jesus has already accomplished in me.
The tasks that have been given to me pale in comparison to the work that Jesus has already completed in my life.
(I can’t write on this subject without hearing Francesca Battistelli singing “Strangely Dim” in my head. So, I thought I would share it with you today. Perhaps it will encourage your heart as it always encourages mine!)
Linking with a beautiful community of writers who write for five minutes every Friday. This five minutes is sometimes the only time of the week when I feel capable of finishing a blog post! This week Lisa-Jo has shared that she is passing on the Five Minute Friday baton. If you have followed me here for any length of time, you know how much I love and admire Lisa-Jo. She has had an impact on my life in ways I can’t even express. But she has come to her finish line and I look forward to watching her experience the joy that God has set before her! Join us? Head over to Lisa-Jo’s Place and share your 5 minutes on “finish”.
The porch was crumbling,
boards creaked underfoot,
paint peeling, forgotten shutters from yesteryear.
My hand shook as I pulled on the door,
it ached at my touch.
The loneliness hung in the air
thick as the dust and the cobwebs,
all spectators to the decay of a home once alive.
“Is anybody here?”, I questioned.
anybody, anybody, anybody
No response other than my own tremulous voice.
My tears came hard and fast,
for what had been lost,
for the emptiness,
for the lonesomeness these walls breathed.
I felt it deep, the alienation, the seclusion, the left alone.
It was my story.
I had tried to write it differently.
Come on in, I had beckoned, you are welcome here, I proclaimed for all to hear.
But what was once vibrant had lost its luster,
What was once alive was now in shambles.
“Run after me, Love me, Pursue me!“, I screamed into the silence.
And then I heard the response.
Run after Me, Love Me, Pursue Me!
And I remembered that I am not alone.
It was nearing the end of our vacation. We had spent a wonderful, but HOT week at family camp in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania followed by a whirlwind trip to North Carolina to see long time friends and celebrate a baptism. As we made our way through more Pennsylvania mountains, past the amusement park that we hoped to go to the next day, and down previously unexplored roads, I could sense my husband’s exhaustion growing. He was ready to be home.
So when we pulled up to a rustic log cabin with a fire pit, but no bathroom, with a loft for the kid’s beds, but a thin mattress for ours, I knew it was not ideal. I had made the reservations, so I knew what to expect, but while my husband enjoys camping, he prefers to be prepared for it.
We were not prepared.
My thoughts when I reserved our cabin was that this would simply be a place where we could sleep, close enough to the amusement park, so that we could easily travel between the two if the baby needed a nap. I had not anticipated any emphasis on the camping part. But my husband has a make-the-most-of-any-situation mentality (which I love!) and so we purchased fire wood at the overpriced camp store.
We took a walk around the campground and enjoyed time with our family.
Ethan learned how to light a fire. The kids carved sticks with stones, we enjoyed s’mores by the campfire and Daddy played guitar.
After the kids were in bed, my husband and I had some time to just be together. Time to reflect on our vacation, time to talk about ministry, time to simply BE. It was good. Very good!
But we didn’t sleep well at all. The mattress was even thinner than I thought possible. It was hot and bugs were buzzing around our heads all night long. Our kids are restless sleepers and so they were running into the walls and rolling around constantly. This left me terrified. I was afraid that one of them would roll right down the stairs or over the side of the loft. At one point, I went up to check on them and the littlest was out of his sleeping bag and at the top of the stairs. This discovery did not help my fears that had suddenly moved from the irrational realm to the completely possible!
My husband woke up with a headache and I woke up questioning myself. Had I made a complete mistake in renting this cabin? Had I just ruined a perfectly wonderful vacation by my poor decision?
But the kids woke up happy. They were completely oblivious to the the things that had plagued their parents and excitement for the day was the only emotion that reigned in their hearts (oh, we can learn so much from our children!).
We opened Gibson’s bubble set and then something beautiful happened. Our neighbor saw the kids playing and brought over another bottle of bubble solution. Since we had come to the campground unprepared, I had asked the neighbors for help the night before. It has broken down any barriers that might have been there and built an unexpected camaraderie. It was a beautiful way to start the morning and a reminder to me to keep looking for the beauty, to stop dwelling on the difficult.
Bubbles are a wonderful thing. They lighten moods, give a whimsical feeling to a day, cheer hearts, make us laugh. It was a perfect beginning to what turned out to be a beautiful day. We had an amazing time at the amusement park!
As we pulled into the campground for our second night, it was with completely different attitudes. We now knew what to expect and while it might not have been ideal, we were willing to look for the best, because we had just had an amazing day.
We spent some time reading our summer reading series (The Growly Books by Philip and Erin Ulrich) and enjoyed some funnel cake. And once again, the kids slept soundly (except for a middle of the night bathroom trip!).
As we prepared to leave the following morning for the final leg of our journey, I was reminded that so often we look for the ideal situation and when our experience is less than our ideal, we are disappointed. But what would happen if we chose to live differently? To instead see every situation as an opportunity for finding beauty in the mess, for discovering the joy in the unexpected, for searching for that diamond in the rough?
This is how I want to live. It is what I want others to say of me. She makes the most of every opportunity! She seeks beauty in all situations! She trusts God when things are not “ideal”!
How about you? Have you had a vacation experience that was unexpected? How did you handle it? What did you learn?