Refreshing Hearts One Sentence At A Time
Any day that I get to write is a good day. I haven’t gotten to write in the last few days because life has been outofhandcrazybusy. I know that maybe I do it to myself, but often, life just happens and everything conflicts in a slow-motioned fast-forward. Life whirls by as I do the slow motion robot on one of those moving sidewalks.
Success is so fleeting, isn’t it? I so often wish I felt more successful: successful at cooking healthy meals, working out, not drinking soda or eating the entire bar of chocolate, successful at writing a good book or having a blog post that gets shared and liked and becomes some kind of instant hit on the interwebs. I saw a picture posted today on my Facebook newsfeed that read, “Do you need a breakthrough?” And then the person posted the caption, “What kind of breakthrough do you need today?” The question and picture made me pause, if only for a moment while I put together lunch, made coffee, threw breakfast cereal in a bowl, cut up a banana, did not trip over any toys strewn about the floor, and brushed my daughter’s hair. The question floated around my head as I drove to work out.
I need a breakthrough.
My memory has been so bad lately and I wonder if it is me, if every mother goes through this, or if it’s the constant flow of movement, caffeine, and stress. Probably yes to all of the above. So as I lay on my bed this afternoon, tears rolling down my cheeks, tired and strung out from tripping over the toys, exhausted from chasing my tornado toddler, falling behind on the paper grading, hot from the sunny day, stressed because stress is causing a memory blockage and I can’t focus for more than twenty seconds on any one topic and I’m supposed to have my lines memorized for a play that I am in and cannot get this darn monologue memorized to save my life and I begin to question the validity of plays and theater and books and basically my existence and profession, and I remember that question: What kind of breakthrough do you need today? Cause, boy, I need a breakthrough. But can you have a breakthrough if you really haven’t been trying to accomplish anything in particular? Breakthroughs come as a result of hard work, effort, and focus. Breakthroughs come from perseverance, digging your fingers into the dirt and finishing that steep climb up the mountain, and pushing through the sweat. But do breakthroughs happen in the middle of a storm or afterwards?
Maybe this is just another day, another nobody writing another nothing composition of words. But writing is how I focus, how I create cosmos, how I figure things out.
Are you in the middle of a nothing day?
Can we share a box of Kleenexes together right now and just sit here for a sec? I’ve got this cold can of A&W Root Beer. I’d give you some but wouldn’t want to share germs so I’ll grab one from the fridge if you want. Or coffee. There’s always coffee around here.
This Sunday, because I have zero to do as a stay-at-home-full-time-working-in-a-play-who-gets-volunteered-a-lot-and-sings-on-Sunday-morning-occasionally-and-just-wants-to-be-writing momma, I am supposed to help lead the lesson on 2 Peter 1:12-21.
It has nothing to do with this.
However, the thought that I needed to work on that lesson made me get off the bed and sit at my computer, where I found a helpful Bible verse.
This morning I read a little Bible story to my daughter heading off for her 4th day of kindergarten. The story was about Joseph, who was sold into slavery, betrayed by his brothers – his family! – thrown into prison, and tested in every kind of way. In all of those moments, those dark, lost, hopeless, sweaty, broken moments, God was with Joseph and was working on a plan with a long-term goal. Joseph had to get to Egypt. He had to learn how to manage his time, his efforts, his talents, his possessions. Joseph had to learn how to focus. Joseph had to learn to use foresight and wisdom to manage a project that would save a nation from starvation. So maybe the best way to get him out of that very comfy position as Daddy’s Favorite With The Fancy Jacket, was to let him struggle. I don’t know. I don’t understand God’s logic most of the time, so I won’t second-guess it, but the scenario has been applicable for me all day today. As a teacher I see a lot of students who have had a rough go of life, dealing with deaths, illnesses, unemployment, suicidal thoughts, abuse, darkness, lost hope, and late homework. As a momma I struggle with not tripping over the ridiculous amount of toys strewn about the house, the full trash cans, the endless making of meals, the instructing of little minds, and the darkness of those poopy diapers. I don’t always understand the need for a gross diaper, but they happen. I don’t always react with grace and mercy when dealing with a slow driver in front of me, or an inconveniently long line at the grocery store, but they happen. I don’t always remember that God has a good plan, and that God is there with me, and cares about those momentous achievements and also those little silly frustrations.
Even as I make these lists with all of these commas, I feel ridiculous in my struggle and tears that I am even fumbling along. Look at Joseph and what he dealt with – imagine sitting in a prison in Egypt, not only abandoned by family but forced away to never look back or be held in a loving or safe embrace, collapsing on the hot, dusty floor, smelling the salty sweat and having no idea what lay before, and understandably trying to forget the past. Did Joseph have a pity party? I hope he did, for even just a few minutes at least. I hope he analyzed his situation and said something to the effect of, “What the heck?!” Did he just have certain measures of perseverance stored up?
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
Joseph had it hard, but to be honest, stress, forgetfulness, clumsiness, and exhaustion are all hard factors as well. Somehow, and even though we don’t get the illustrated version of the story, God kept Joseph in perfect peace. Does perfect peace allow for a root beer? And like, a few squares of chocolate?
As much as I do believe my life is just one little life, it has to mean something, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got the humility of a giant and the perseverance of a boulder. And any time I forget to use either, I usually find something to trip over or drop, and either one is probably one of the toys strewn about the house. Maybe that all will mean something some day. Maybe it will mean something today, and we can just relate to each other a bit more, and both of us can know that there is someone else struggling just the same, and it is okay to lay it out there on the table.
Struggle. Do it. Face it. Press on. Trust. Claim that perfect peace.
Allow the peace to settle.
Allow the pieces to settle.
My mind isn’t always steadfast, so maybe that should be the breakthrough today. When I know I am found short, quite lacking, I can face the embers and say I truly am doing my best, and my best is showing up to face the fire. Because I’m not alone in the fire. God’s there, and he sees it, and he will grasp my hand in his.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
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