On not getting my own way

I haven’t published anything on here in the last six months, it’s a little bit me being lazy, and a little bit feeling like the world doesn’t need one more thing to read, one more voice, and a little bit feeling like I’m awful at writing.  But I gave myself a timeline of the end of October to either publish something or delete my blog, and so even though I don’t know the answer to those questions,  I am going to try and write!  

I have about 6 unfinished writings from the summer, this one I had only gotten so far as putting a passage of scripture at the top, but it’s as sharp to my soul today as it was in June.

He said to them, For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.   Matthew 17:20

is it just me or is Jesus setting the bar pretty low here?

Yep.  Yep He is.  I want to be offended and scoff a bit here,  because obviously my faith is HUGE!!!!    Much more like a whole, entire, watermelon, really.

BWAHAHAHHAA!   My faith isn’t even approaching mustard seed size on a lot of days.  So my response is actually more like HALLELUJAH!  Maybe I can pull actually pull this off!

You might think “wow! Can someone who has been following Christ for half her life struggle to produce even the smallest ounce of faith at this point in her journey?  That’s pretty bad!”

But it’s pretty easy actually.  It’s called not getting what I want.  

Jesus talks about seeds and trees and mountains an awful lot,  but I think faith, at least my real life experience of it, is more like a balloon.  A little less like a force to be reckoned with and a little more like something that pops under pressure.

The Lord God grants and arranges and speaks, and when I look behind me at His workings in my life I can see these huge sweeping movements of grace, movements made up of individual conversations and moments and thoughts and interventions – all forceful breaths into my balloon.   With each provision, each time he gives me the very desires of my heart, my balloon is fuller and fuller and floats higher and higher.  It’s quite impressive, really.

But then, something doesn’t go right.  I don’t get my way.  And that balloon POPS!  With the startling noise all the goodness and faithfulness and promises of my God are just absolutely lost on me.  Forgotten, as if they never existed.  How can I possibly think about moving mountains when this is what my life looks like!

And I question and panic and I doubt and I am so ashamed to say I shake my fist at God.

When there is still pain, still struggle, still a long. way. to. go. we forget the promise, forget the Giver, just like the Isrealites.

Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

When the path takes a sharp turn, when what we have built our lives upon now looks vastly different, we forget the promises, we forget the Giver, just like Peter.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see youin the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

There have been a lot of POPS! happening, and each and every time I find myself startled, and subsequently wandering around my living room, looking for the invisible bits of God that have vanished into thin air, but all I can salvage to hang on to are bits of torn latex.

That, my friends, is why Jesus does not say faith is like a balloon.  Balloons POP! but the Holy Spirit does not.  The Word of God does not.  God himself does not.

HALLELUJAH!  Maybe I can pull actually pull this off!

The bubble may burst.  Alright, the bubble WILL burst.  The diagnosis may come and the healing may be withheld.  The path may wind and go on for far longer than I originally signed up for.  The seat may be at the very end of the table and it sometimes sucks down there.  The scenery and plot line are not what I wanted or planned on.  They just aren’t.  And they rock my world in the worst way possible.

But the LORD who led his people out of Egypt, led them also out of the wilderness, and into the Promised Land.

And the Jesus who was best friends with Peter before the crucifixion, meets him again to cook him a nice fish breakfast on the other side of it all.

He approaches the girl who doubted and forgot, and in my empty hand places the seed, again.  It’s soooo tiny!  But it’s chock full of remembrance of good deeds, good promises and good hope and good power to go move that mountain.

Funk

What a great word.  It covers all manner of bad attitude, laziness, apathy, fatigue, anger and hormones.

If my daughter is having a bad morning, I say she was in a funk.  If I am feeling a bit depressed, I’m in a funk.

Keep saying it over and over again and it becomes hilarious and meaningless.  Funk. Funk. Funk.  Funk.   Sounds exactly like it should, maybe because it sounds like ‘stuck’ or ‘muck’ or ‘junk’.  Or that other word…

I was in a funk the other day on the way to church.  I am uptight when we are running late.  I am uptight when we are even approaching running late. So this Saturday Jon and I aren’t really talking and there is some tension, he knows I am in one of my moods (a.k.a funk) and I am manically  pressing every button on the radio to find a song that I like (purposely avoiding NPR even though I know that’s what Jon wants to listen to, because it’s possible I am not a very good spouse when I am in a funk) and finally land on Beyoncé’s Put a Ring on It.

A few seconds into her…

All the single ladies, All the single ladies

as if on cue, Jon and I started dancing simultaneously (as much as our seat belts would allow).  We are so cool.  I know we don’t always look it, what with the bible commentaries and diaper bags and NPR listening, but we totally are.  I dare you, where ever you may be right now, to put on that song and try not to dance.  I declare it CANNOT be done.

Soon we were singing together, with all this amazing hip hop wannabe attitude, our poor children suffering in the backseat…

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.
Wha-oh-oh-oh-oh-ooh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

That Saturday all it took was a little Beyoncé to get me out of my funk.  Sometimes it’s not that easy.

I have felt in a writing funk lately which is making me ask all kinds of hard and interesting questions about purpose and creativity and The Holy Spirit and vulnerability.  I actually swore off writing completely the other day but then Relevant Magazine asked me to write something about GMOs.  I don’t care about GMOs actually.  I mean I know I should care about them and am thankful other people do, but I just don’t.  So I wrote my perspective on these BIG ISSUES and the editor replied that it wasn’t at all what he was looking for but liked it anyway so published it.  He sort of hacked up my rambling first draft but I”m not complaining.  You can read it here.

So then I thought I wouldn’t actually swear off writing since somebody liked something I wrote.

Does that make me a narcissist? 

Again, more questions of purpose and creativity and the Holy Spirit and vulnerability.

I get in funks with prayer and Jesus.  I get in funks with housework and lesson plans.  I get in funks with my husband and my health and my emotions.  I get in funks with writing and cooking.

I have a list of things I would tell to someone else if they were feeling like this, so I am going to play staff worker with myself.  This may or may not be healthy.

Hey Kirsten,

You don’t need to feel a certain way, quit trying.  Emotions can be deceiving.  You don’t need to understand everything either.  Just figure out what the next step is, even if it is a baby step.

Often times you are certain that the big picture laid out in expansive detail is EXACTLY what you need to move forward, to feel normal again.  But answers don’t usually come that way.  Jesus won’t always tell you precisely how things will unfold, but he will lead you in a next step – which is much more manageable for our puny human brains anyways.

Jesus my entire house is a disaster area, I don’t know where to begin. What is my next step?  (I pretend not to hear if the answer is laundry or bathrooms…)

Jesus I am not feeling connected to you.  What is my next step?

Jesus I am so irritable with my husband and kids.  What is my next step?

Jesus I am not sure why I am writing or if I should bother to continue.  What is my next step?

Secondly, remember HOW you connect with God.  God is life.  God is light.  Beyoncé is fun but God is better.

There’s this book called Sacred Pathways, which outlines different ways in which we connect to God.  I haven’t actually read it or remember all the different “ways”  but knowing how you connect with God the best, how you notice his presence, how you worship is helpful.  You are unique.

When’s the last time I went for a hike?

Lastly, quit keeping things to yourself and tell a friend.  I know, I know, you’re an introvert and an internal processor and don’t like to ‘burden’ other people with your funk.  But when you share with another human being, one who loves you, whether it’s a deep dark secret or those pesky hormones taking over, you feel less alone and your problems seem smaller.  That’s worth something.

When’s the last time I sat down and asked somebody to pray for me and with me?

I am thankful that I don’t suffer from depression, just the occasional funk where I am stuck in some muck and junk (sorry, a lot of Dr. Seuss being read around here…) and can’t write another word or put my best foot forward.

But in turning my face to God, his light and his faithful care overwhelm, so that joy and delight can be the true markers of my life, even when the funk threatens keep me down.

Psalm 43

Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.

Thin Skin

Do you ever feel stuck?

Do you ever want to give up?

Do you ever question your value?

Do you ever wonder why God made you the way He did?

Do you ever doubt?

Do you ever question?

Do you ever feel tired?

Do you ever wonder if you’re wrong?

Do you ever feel alone?

Do you ever feel misunderstood?

Do you ever feel foolish?

Do you ever hear lies?

Do you ever believe lies?

Sometimes I do.

And that’s why today, while peeling potatoes, I cried.

So I did what everyone should do at all times.  I went to my Father.

And I remembered that he paid for my sin, not in bits and pieces but in full.  Thank you Jesus. 

And I remembered that he gave me the Holy Spirit, not in bits and pieces but in full.  Thank you Jesus.

And I remembered that he loves me, not in bits and pieces, but in full.  Thank you Jesus. 

And I remembered that he gave me an invitation, not in bits and pieces but in full.  Thank you Jesus.

And I remembered that today as I cry while peeling potatoes, tomorrow there would be new mercy for me, not in bits and pieces, but in full.  Thank you Jesus. 

The Faithful One

Thank you Jesus. 

Both Hands

“That is NEVER going to be me” I say to myself while perusing some of my favorite blogs on Tuesday night.  “I am NEVER going to write a book.  I am NEVER going to speak at a conference.  No, not me.   I am going to sit on this couch and just peek through a crack in the window to occasionally catch a glimpse at what other women, real women, talented women are doing for Jesus while I remain here in my little, insignificant life in which I can’t even get my two children to behave”

Insert:  90’s Jennifer Knapp Christian-angst music and a bar of chocolate.

When Jon is working nights I love taking time to read the voices of other women who are passionate and gifted and funny and Godly but for some reason tonight I noticed a commonality amongst the several sites I visited that poked annoyingly at a painful place deep within. Not only are these women passionate and gifted and funny and Godly but they are also published.  And on speaking schedules.  And raising more kids than me.  And apparently living in a world in which there are more than 24 hours in each day.  (Oh, and gorgeous – because this really couldn’t be a legit female-comparison blog post without talking about body image, right?)

All of a sudden these writers, these women, with whom at one point I felt a sense of sisterhood, seemed far away and foreign and secluded in their own club that I wasn’t invited to.  The Successful Christian Woman’s Club.  Or something.

Me?  I am a card carrying member of the  “all-alone-in-my-pajamas-by-8:30-sitting-on-a-couch-surfing-the-internet-and-crying-while-listening-to-Jennifer Knapp-doing-nothing-of-value-with-my-life -club”.  My club doesn’t even have a coherent name.  Waaaahhhh.

For a lot of my adult years, when telling Jesus that he can have my life what I mean, at least partially, is Hey Lord take diligent notes while I give you my ideas on how this suits me best.  Thanks.

In the past this has been holding on to sin with one hand while trying to hold on to Jesus with the other.

Then it was holding on to security blankets with one hand, and to Jesus with the other.

Lately it has been holding on to success with one hand, and to Jesus with the other.

But for all of my hand-holding, I just can’t see success in my life, at least not on this Tuesday night (alright, it’s entirely possible that a flooded bathroom, a surprise pimple and some good old fashioned hormones were at play here. It’s okay.  Jesus meets me on the mountain top, and he pulls me out of the pit, amen?)

On this particular Tuesday night I just can’t see what I think I should see from my 32 years.

I can, however, see the many accomplishments and talents of other women.

I can feel my two year old hitting me all day.

I can see my three year old acting like an angry teenager.

I can remember that girl I didn’t disciple well.

I can read all the words I wish I had written, but in fact they belong to someone else.

I can inherit the legacy of women before me, but sometimes my choices look so different from theirs that I wonder what those that come after me will be left with.

I know what I see, and what I don’t see.

God what do you see?

As I turned down my music and exhaled all my pride and insecurity for the Lord to gather up and make new and make holy and make light I prayed for wisdom and vision.

God, what do you see?

What do you feel? What do you hear?  What do you have for me to write?  What do you have for me to inherit?  What do you have for me to pass on?

He answered all my questions, and spoke to my need for success and affirmation, in this way: by tenderly taking my clenched fist and, one finger at a time, carefully unwrapping it from that heavy suitcase (full of book deals and perfectly groomed children) I have been lugging around.

Just as I couldn’t make it work holding on to sin with my left, and Jesus with my right – nor can I hold on to anything, success included, while fully following Jesus.

The Lord wants both of my hands clinging to his robe for healing.  The Lord wants both my hands raised high in worship.  King Jesus wants both of my hands open, palms up, so that I might receive the bread he has for me to feast on.

Today

Today I…

Re-scheduled my c-section for tomorrow instead of next Tuesday. There were a lot of factors that went into this decision and there is a part of me that feels like I lost, or quit, the battle of Natural Childbirth v. Way to Many Unnecessary C-sections and feels ashamed and defeated. Part of me just doesn’t care anymore and can’t wait to have this baby!

Taught my last Spanish class for a long time. It was sort of anti-climactic. It’s the end of the year so I am ready to say ‘good-bye’ but I know I will miss it. My students were going crazy not knowing the name of our little one, but as long as I promised he would not be named Francis or Ben (I have no idea where they came up with these two particular names) they seemed satisfied.

Have thought of about 50 more things that need to get done before the baby gets here.

Have decided to let go of about 45 of those things, knowing the world will not end if I don’t wash the curtains in the living room, even if they are covered in Chloe’s hair.

Am going to spoil Evangeline a little bit more before she gives up her position as an only child.

Am daydreaming about meeting my son tomorrow.

Am going to pray for a safe surgery and a healthy delivery.

Am going to go finish packing my hospital bag now…