Friday, October 28, 2011

Baptism by Bathtub

I cracked. I fell. I was empty, at bottom. I was in the bathtub, almost fully submerged, water over my ears so I could hear nothing. I asked the nothing to become God's voice and asked Him to speak to me. I laid there. I did not hear anything, exactly, but a peace came upon me. I got out of the bathtub, dried off, went into the bedroom and wrote in my prayer journal. The words that came out I know came from God. I want you to read what I heard and wrote down. Fill in the details with your own details, the things that you struggle with, the things that you most succeed at. And at the end of His "love letter," I hope you'll feel as loved as I did, as new as I felt - a new creation, emerging from the waters of the bathtub.

My child,
I love you when you cry 
over your beloved mother. 
I love you when you grieve 
over having to give up your beloved pet.
I love you when you feel like running,
hurting yourself. 
I love you when you don't think
you are a good mother, 
and think you can't love them
like you ought to.

I love you when you are passive-agressive,
selfish, impatient,
and mean.
I love you when you doubt.
I love you when you hate your life. 
I love you when you feel lost,
like you have
no one left

it is in your lostness,
your sinfulness, your
very bottom,
where you finally
look up
and see Me,
that I have always 
loved you, always been there 
by your side, 
though everything.

I love you at your worst
and I love you at your best,
when you hold your stepson in the morning
and rock and rock and rock,
when you cradle your husband's head
and guide him to Me, 
when you watch a client at work 
with awe and delight.
I love you when you seek
Me out in everything you do.

I love that you puddled into the bathtub tonight
and lay with ears and body submerged
and asked Me to speak to you.
I love that as you listened to the sound
of water going down the drain,
you imagined your burdens draining as well.
I love that you felt peaceful.
I gave you that peace.
Because you deserve it. 
Not because you are perfect
and will never fall again,

but because you are human
and, in falling, you continue
to look for Me.

I love you always,
in all ways,
to depths you cannot imagine.

How do you feel after reading that? I feel strongly that God didn't mean that for me, alone. He meant it for my husband, my stepchildren; He meant it for you. 

We are human. We will fall. But in the falling, we must cry out, look up to God. 

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

~Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

Look at that: a song of ascents. Ascend upward...look upward...

and just maybe you'll want to take a bath sometime soon...

and listen.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Giving Up

My pot has been about to boil over for a while now. Full-time custody of three kids very suddenly has sent Husband and I into a tailspin and knocking on the email doors of many friends, asking for advice and help.

Yesterday, it just became too much. The many ways in which I have lost my different identities - woman, writer, wife - and the identity which has become convoluted - stepmother - have turned me round and round until ashes, ashes, I have fallen down.

I've fallen.

And so I asked my work for a mental health day today. And, kindly, they agreed.

I was listening to Matthew West's song, "Strong Enough:"

"I know I'm not strong enough
to be everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough..."

And I realized it. I give up. Yes, I give up. I wanted to scream it out my window: I GIVE UP!!!!
But in listening to West's song, I realized it wasn't that I was giving up and waving the white flag and leaving it at that. Instead, I was giving up on trying to control the situation....and giving it to God.

We hear that phrase a lot, don't we? It's become a kind of cliche: Give it to God. In our culture, we think that means just letting go and letting your worries drift into nothingness. 

But we who believe in God know better. And even those of us who believe in God, but who suffer and need reminding, must know: we may give up, we may release the burden...but in giving up we hold on to the One who can take it all on. The only One who can handle it all: yep, you guessed it. God. 

So Lord, I know I'm not strong enough to be all these identities on my own. I'm not strong enough to handle three unique children each going through their own emotional growing pains. I'm not strong enough to handle trouble in my marriage due to stress, lack of time together, etc. 

I just can't do it, Lord. 

If you give up, do you think that's a failure? Do you feel bad? Do you feel less of a person?

Don't. If you give up...and give over...and hold onto Him who can carry it all for you...

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  
Matthew 11:30 will find life all the more sweeter to live. I try to control so much. I try to make the kids not have temper tantrums; I try to make traffic run easier; I try to control Husband's moods....

I give up, Lord, and I give it to You. For you can make all things new. 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17 

Only You can make me be what You call me to be, Lord. 

I bow before you. I look upward instead of inward.   

May you release the tight clutch you have on life and in opening your palm, may you see butterflies flitting up to Heaven. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tacos are Yummy, but...

My 4-year-old stepson is now in Awana, which is like cub scouts for God. His 7-year-old sister is in it as well, but I'm going to mention something that he did recently. He learned and memorized his first Bible verse:

"God is love."
~ 1 John 4:8

He says it really cute. I wonder what it means to him. Then I wondered what it means to us. I meditated on the word, "love," and realized it is a far overused word. We say, "I love tacos" and "I love my spouse" in the same sentence. Do you see something careless in this?

God took his Word very seriously in the Bible: 

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalms 12:6 (KJV) 

 and that makes his words holy. I am trying to be more intentional with my words. I praise God more - not just for the good things, but for the struggles which allow me to lean on him and to glorify him through my perseverance. I count my blessings. I use words of affirmation toward Husband, which, in turn, helps him feel appreciated and supported. Sure, tacos are yummy, but the love of God calls me to share is so special and dear to me; the love I have for God is so enormous, when I say, "I love..." I recognize the weight it carries. 

How heavy or meaningful is love for you?