Spring has delivered sunny days and breezy nights. We've capitalized on the cool evenings and have been sleeping with the windows open. The cool drifts of fresh air in the early mornings is delightful. It makes me want to curl up under the blankets even longer. But, no matter how great that moment feels, there is one thing that will get me to hop out of my bed at light speed...the screaming.
The high pitched siren, met with intense whining gets me to my feet. If you are thinking to yourself that I am a proactive mother dealing promptly with my children, don't. I do not fly out of bed to interrupt and redirect the fighting, to ask questions and defuse the situation, to capitalize with a Mr. Rogers-style lesson in morality. Nope...I RUN...to shut all the open windows. No one should ever have to hear the sound I am experiencing, especially at 6 am. I work to get those windows closed so that when I start in with MY screaming no one outside will hear. I don't want people to know that sound is coming from my house, my offspring, my mouth.
This phenomenon has been heightened recently. The empty lot directly behind our house is now being occupied with new homes. They have been making their way around the street and have now begun to lay the foundation for the house directly behind us. Before, when the scream explosion would happen, I ran to the windows imagining the neighbors on either side of us, sitting on their patios or sleeping with their windows open, and that sound entering their serene space. But, there was also the hope they were inside with the windows shut, and the sound landed only on the grass and trees. Now imagination has given way to reality - I know there are people out there because I can see them, and I can hear them. No more hiding.
I despise this pattern of behavior in me. I twinge every time it happens, yet, I do it over and over again. I want to fight hard to keep the mess inside. But lately I have noticed some fatigue setting in from all my effort trying to portray a life that is put together. I know in my guts the futility of trying to live like this. Accolades from others only causes me to tread water longer, becoming exhausted and getting nowhere fast. I have a sense that I am not alone in this. This is the condition of the human heart - the desire to be well thought of, to be affirmed, to be impressive, to stand out - and we will perform in order to achieve these things.
"Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can't see it. So quietly submit to be painted- i.e., keep fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk- don't keep on looking at it." - C.S. Lewis
I know in my mind the truth of God's grace and His love for me. I have heard that I don't have to perform for Him enough times that I think I believe it. I think I know the truth but I'm not sure all the thinking has produced change. My desire to be strong and capable stands in the way of allowing this truth to penetrate the walls of my heart. I do not want my desire to strive, work and prove to block the thing I am despertely needing. Grace can solve the condition of the human heart.
"Have you not heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40: 28-31
Let it be.
These words water a deep place inside of me. A place so dry that it is cracked and breaking. The truth of this passage has the power to change my reality. When I receive His grace I can then extend it to my children. The grace you get is the grace you give. I don't want to live in the conversation of fear and failure any longer. It takes a conscious choice to let Truth interrupt the conversation that has been looping on repeat. I am weak, but He is strong. My weakness showcases His strength.
“….'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work though me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
God's word leads me into living a life where I'm not pretending. He leads me toward living a life of integrity - one where the inside and the outside look the same. He empowers me to say no to living a divided life - one messy, closed-off, and hidden and the other composed, buttoned-up, and polished. Again and again I have seen God pursue me in the midst of the mess. He isn't embarrassed by my screaming fits. He doesn't shush me and shut me up. He moves towards me. He loves me with a love that can heal all my broken places.
"You are always there for me
You listen every time I speak
You look into my eyes
You see the things I hide
And say that You will never leave
Your promises I can not break
And I know You will never change"