Friday, November 29, 2013

Dry Bones (Complete)

It’s a beautiful fall day.  The windows and doors are open and the twins are outside playing.  It’s been like this for a week.  I’ve needed this, sunshine without the sweltering heat of a Texas summer.  Fresh air with a hint of cooler weather to come; it’s still not cold enough to keep the mosquitos and flies away, so we’re not to my weather nirvana, but we’re close.  And close is good.

Close means soon the garden will be tilled and the dirt allowed to rest till spring.  It means the yard won’t need mowing every week.  The weeds won’t need pulling.  The outside work will be set aside for another season, and I can rest from that work.  That’s not to say more won’t start.  The holidays are close at hand so projects inside need to be started and completed in the next few months.  List made and items checked off.  But it’s different from what I’ve been doing and that makes it exciting.

It’s in the everyday activities that I find rest.  And though resting while I work doesn’t seem possible, for me and many others it is.  Doing the same thing every day makes a good life seem dull.  Change, even subtle, can help transform a mindset that has grown bored with life.  It still requires the person to see the beauty in the everyday, but it is possible.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Recently the husband made a decision that will affect the whole family.  It didn’t come to him easily, changing churches never should.  But after years of watching our church family go, we can’t sit back any longer.  We feel disconnect from God and like the dry bones described in Ezekiel, we have been bleached from the sun, lying brittle in the valley.  Our cries to God are now faint whispers and though our faith is still strong, our hope for change is not.  

Ezekiel 37: Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 

The problem is we’ve never left a church.  We’ve moved away from ones we’ve loved.  But never have we left because our church left us feeling empty each week.  And though we know the church shouldn’t be what fills us, that only God can do that, we shouldn’t leave feeling emptier.  In the past our preachers guided us with sound doctrine and excitement for the Word.  Our church family would love us through our hard times and celebrate with us through our victories.

We’ve not felt that here for years.  As hard as we’ve tried to find our place in the ruins, we can’t.  Nothing about our church is steady.  The people, the programs, even the times keep changing.  Though some change is good, watching people pass through the church like the seasons is not.  We’re exhausted and resentful; it’s no longer a place of learning and renewal so it’s time to drag our dry bones to another well.   

Ezekiel 37: I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

I embrace change.  I enjoy the newness that comes with each one. Whether it’s the seasons or a new city, I like the starting over.  What I don’t like is the barrenness that I’ve been feeling; the wanting to cry out to God, but choking on dust.  My soul feels empty like there’s nothing left for me to give.  And I know… I know that the enemy is using this time to pull me away.  But he can’t have me.  

This season has no doubt been a test of my faith and though I failed many and stumbled through a few others, I still know there is a sovereign God who looks after me.  He cares for me and who sees my need.  Perhaps these past few years I needed to see what the void felt like.  The disconnect that others feel but I couldn’t understand.  Maybe, like so many other things in my past God is allowing me a chance to relate to someone in my future who may feel the same way I did… still do.  I pray I don't miss the opportunity.  

Corinthians 1: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trading Fear for Faith (Complete)

The Mama Bear mentality; I see it a lot in the blog world and my everyday life.  I understand the need to protect our children and to do our best to make sure those that have wronged them are set straight or punished.  I get it… I do.  But is that what we should be doing as moms?  Are we to defend them with claws bared and teeth showing?  Or are we to show them how forgiveness looks?  No claws, no teeth, just a healthy understanding of how the world works and a heart that has no room in it for hate and anger?

I pose these questions after a very trying week; a moment that started out as a simple inconvenience, later a sad revelation and finally the mouth drooping realization that my trust was misplaced.  And some of the fault was my own.  Not because I allowed someone to scam me or others, but because I knew there was something wrong.  I felt it to my core but didn’t face it because the reality is I spent the better part of my working life in an area where I dealt with these same things.  I didn’t leave the job because of that.  Truth is I liked that part.  The discovery, the puzzle pieces and the final call you made confirming all that you suspected with proof in hand.  

But this wasn’t work.  I wasn’t paid to find the bad guy.  Instead I happened upon it because of an emergency where I was needed in order to keep things afloat.  And more importantly I had to be the one to stand between the ugliness of the world and the reality of my daughter’s everyday life; a safe haven where she can be herself, the crazy kid who sees music and feels art.  And I wanted to be that shield.  I still do.  But I can’t, at least not always.

The easy thing to do is get mad.  Anger comes fast for many, slow for others but either way it still shows up as a burst of raw energy.  You can release it and in that moment you don’t care about the damage you leave behind because you feel justified.  You think there are no consequences because in your mind the person who betrayed you and your child deserves it.  It was coming to them; karma and bad vibes, the reckoning of their misdeeds.  

But I disagree.

Mind you, I don’t want to, but I have to.  The simple truth is we’ve all wronged someone at a certain point.  Many of us might shake our heads in denial but others can instantly think of a moment in their life where they made a decision they thought they’d never make; a time where emotions played a factor in their judgment even though their brain screamed no.   

And if that moment hasn’t happened to you, it will.  And many times those tough decisions come after you have children.  When you’re faced with the task of raising another human and you think you’ll do it all right, but go to bed at night thinking of all the things you did wrong.  Even on our best days we wonder how we could have done it better.  

Sometimes we forgo faith and chose to cling to fear.  Fear we understand.  Like anger it’s an easy emotion.  It usually comes when we feel we don’t know the answers.  We have all the questions, but no solutions.  So we do the things we never thought we would.  We try to fix it with whatever we have available.  We call it our wits and pride ourselves in using our survival skills but the truth is we don’t trust our faith to guide us.  

We look for the easy path, we grab what is closest to us and convince ourselves that the consequences either don’t matter or won’t catch up with us.  We’re too busy patting ourselves on the back instead of humbling ourselves to others or to God.  It’s not easy.  I know that.  I’ve never prayed to be humbled.  Humbling isn’t pleasant and it’s certainly not something I would ask for.  But when you open your heart, take the leap and allow God to guide your steps… humbling happens.  

Psalms 118
Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.   What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

As a person who has made poor choices, who has hurt others without knowing or without thought of consequences, I can tell you that when a Christian makes a decision based on fear instead of faith, he will always be humbled.  He will always face consequences.  And he will always regret his decision.

As a Christian who has been on the other side of someone else’s poor choices, hurt feelings and standing in the destruction created by others, we have to choose forgiveness.  As much as we feel justified in straightening someone out or handing out punishment, we don’t have that right.  We gave that up when we put our faith in God. 

Faith allows us to fight fear with forgiveness.