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Nothing and no one can exist outside of You...


I had a long night.  

My husband woke me around midnight because Joel needed a diaper change and wanted me to do it.  I stumbled up the stairs and changed him, completely on auto-pilot, with only the light from the moose nightlight in the hall.  Aaron goes, “How do you do that in the dark!?” I don’t know. I’ve done it a million and a half times over the past 3.5 years.  You get good at stuff.

Then Travis wakes just after 4 a.m.  I feed him and put him back down, but he cries and fusses and flops around like a fish just caught.  I go back upstairs no less than four times to cover him back up, unstick his legs from the crib, pat, console, cover up again.  I collapse back into bed, praying he just sleeps.  I look at my phone: 5:45 a.m. flashes.  Surely he has to pass back out soon.  And he does get quiet and my breathing calms.  Good.  Maybe I can get another hour, if I’m lucky.  I pass out cold.

Fifteen minutes later I’m awakened by the voice of my oldest on the monitor.  Are you kidding? I rush back upstairs and he’s wide awake, asking to get up.  I let him get up in an effort to not wake up the baby again.  I drown myself in my first cup of coffee and munch on scones as I troll Facebook.  I shoot off an email to a good friend, whining about my night.

And then I read a blog written by one of my best friends who is currently serving as a medical missionary in Uganda.  I keep drinking my coffee and nibbling my scone and then I’m crying.

She tells of a sweet little boy that needed care desperately... and who was turned away time and time again.  I was torn apart by the unfairness of it all.  By the cruelty of his situation.  By the Holy Spirit working in my friend’s gut to push her to try one more option for this little life.  And most of all touched that God cares so very much about every single one of us.  Moved by His grace... and a little ashamed by my own selfishness.

Sometimes we don’t realize it.  We live in such a privileged country that we don’t always understand or see the stark need staring us in the face.  I whine about my long night getting up with my healthy children.  I complain about being tired, even though I rested for a few hours on a clean pillow in a warm bed in a safe and secure house, with no threat, no danger, nothing but the chilly harvest wind blowing against our tightly sealed and working-properly windows.  

I plopped my healthy toddler on the couch with his blanket, started Veggie Tales, started a cup of coffee, fired up the internet.  I put on glasses that enable me to see and comforted myself with the knowledge of a few things I am grateful for and that I get to see a good friend today.  And then I read Ashley’s blog and I think... oh, Lord.  Forgive me.  Just forgive me.

Forgive me for my anger and my frustration over a long night.  I signed up to be a mother and this is part of that road.  Forgive me for my lack of gratitude and grace.  Forgive me for taking blessings for granted, for wasting resources, for losing time.  Forgive me for caring so much about my level of exhaustion that I snap at my three year old when he wakes early or the way my thoughts first turn to getting someone, anyone, to sympathize with where I’m at on this dark and cold morning.

It is plain shameful.  There is no other way around it.  You can justify being stressed out or angry or tired or burnt out or whatever.  You can justify anything.  I wouldn’t be impatient if it weren’t for this or that person or job or request.  I wouldn’t be stressed if I had this or didn’t have this.  I wouldn’t be angry if that person would just apologize.  I would be happy if the person in front of me would just give their car a little gas and get on down the road.  

As Nichole Nordeman sings so perfectly, “We are blessed beyond what we could ever dream, in abundance or in need...”

The truth cripples.  My spine shrinks and my shoulders sag a little.

How could I get so off base?  And yet I see that it happens all the time, to everyone around me.  Look at the current status updates.  How many are praises?  Positives?  And how many are, honestly, the whinings of an adult who should know better?  I realize that being in Africa is going to look differently than being in America.  But shouldn’t we, as Christians... shouldn’t we look kind of the same, regardless of where we live or how we’re blessed?  We are so quick to whine and so quick to sympathize with, let’s be honest, the things in life that in reality we all should just put on our big boy or girl pants and deal with.  

We all get colds.  Many of us have allergies.  We all get tired, stressed out, anxious, bored.  We are all busy and we’re all insecure and we’re all trying so darn hard all the time.  Sometimes it’s arrogance that makes us want to believe that we’re the only ones who has ever suffered in this way, been this sick, this taxed, this sleepy at ten in the morning.  But we’re all human, we’re all fighting battles and we are all in desperate, hungry, starving need of Jesus.  More of Jesus.

He is the cure.  The answer.  The way.

He is truth.

He is life.

And I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to be petty or selfish, and yet so often I am.  In my own beautiful home, with my amazing husband and my adorable boys... so often all of the blessings begin to look common and expected and not at all miraculous.  And how often do I sit down and think how undeserving I am?  How gracious God has been?  How terribly grateful I am, that I am overwhelmed to pray, to worship, to give thanks? 

I know we all mess up. I know we’re only human.  I know we’re frail and busted up.  I know we get broken hearts and broken arms and negative test results when we want positives.  I know we all learn to wait, to long for, to grieve, to let go, to comfort.  We get lonely, we get depressed, we get lazy.  We’re quick to cast judgement on any and every situation, but how often do we give ourselves such a harsh and honest diagnosis?  

I am probably not going to stop being tired today.  I may have this headache caused by fatigue for the remainder of the day.  Maybe Excedrin will take it away.  Maybe it won’t.  I might have another cup of coffee.  I’m probably not going to stop feeling physically drained today.  

But I can forbid my physical state to effect my spiritual one.  

I can stay grateful, even when I’m tired.  I can praise God even when it’s dark out and my body wishes I was still under the blankets, snug and unconscious.  I can deny myself the seeming “right” to whine and to be pitied.  I can forbid that behavior by not drawing attention to my physical need.  I can praise and I can worship and I can give honor back to God because He has blessed and blessed and blessed.  Regardless of how my night went. 

It is true.  I am blessed in abundance and I am blessed in need.  Because I always have Christ.  Nothing can ever remove Him from me, or me from Him.  He is where I am secure and where I am found, where I am understood.  Whether I am exhausted, whether I am sick, whether I am grieving or sunk low in emotional darkness and can’t see my way out... He is there.  Blessing, guiding, waiting.  Forgiving.

The reality of my night, the effects it is having on my physical body is very real.  It’s most likely going to be a two-cup of coffee kind of morning.  But it’s also going to be a good day.  A grateful day.  To my God I am going to say, “Please” and “Thank you” and “I’m sorry”.  I refuse the notion that I deserve something other than what I have.  All that I need, all that I have been given, the way this day has been ordered... it is all in His line of vision.  All that I really need, is all that I already have.

I don’t need "more" or "different".  I just need to truly wake up... and see.



For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize 
with our weakness, but one who
in every respect has been 
tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us then with confidence
draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help in
time of need.”
~  H e b r e w s   4 : 1 5 - 1 6 


Comments

  1. so convicted. i've been lazy about choosing joy or gratitude lately...thank you for the line "I refuse the notion that I deserve something other than what I have." nailed.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your comment! (I tried to post ages ago and it won't let me respond - silly internet!) I love how you said that you've been "lazy" about choosing joy or gratitude - perfectly said! So often it is just pure laziness - it's easier to just stay where we are and pout. *smile* Wish so much we could have coffee together! Come to Indiana and hang out with me! <3

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