Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The God Who Wastes Nothing

I woke up at 6AM to drag myself out into the kitchen. David wanted French toast. Sometimes he gets what he wants; other times, I doze off on the couch while he gets ready, before waving him out the door with a kiss and another "Bad Mother of the Year" badge.

Today, I won another badge. My head was killing me. My nose was stuffy, my body ached, and my boy got nothing but a weak, "Have a good day..."

I had a day full of important meetings with important people. It kills me to call in sick, but for reasons a little less than honorable. See, I still think that the world will stop spinning without me. Sick days are an indictment of my mere humanity.

What a wretched soul I am.

Regardless, not much of a battle ensued. I felt terrible. I sent a quick email and a few texts, took a handful of aspirin and crawled back into bed.

As I type, the day is long over. I am still in my pajamas; my teeth have yet to be brushed, much less my hair. It was that kind of day - purely nothing.

But so much happened while I did nothing.

I slept and rested through the morning and awoke with a brighter demeanor and less of a headache. I recalled the words that lingered from last night, as my husband prayed over me. He asked for guidance, for help. The opportunity for an answer to that prayer was in front of me, so I read.

I journaled.

I cried.

I sat in stillness.

I listened.

I finished the first section of Anne Lamott's Help Thanks Wow and accepted the simple theology therein. I need so much help.

And then I picked up Rob Bell's Drops Like Stars and took in the delicious, abstract, beautiful truth that came with a lot of empty space and ridiculously opulent colors. A gift from friends, I'd treasured the card but set the thing aside; it's the size of a coffee table book and the heft discouraged me.

But it's what a sick day seems made for; "Oh, look, here's a book that's probably too long and wordy to read on a normal day let's just take a look."

And there was this page, here, with this photograph. And on the facing page, these words:
When I'm meeting with my counselor and I use words like "mistake" or "failure" or "waste", he stops me. 
He then reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a sign and holds it up so I can read it - again.
And it is this, these words in the photo - Hebrew letters, first, and then the translation, which looks oddly sterile and somehow stripped of their power - but still ring true.
The God Who Wastes Nothing

And I burst into tears. Right then, right there, completely unbidden. Overtaken by surprise and sobs, holding my face in my hands. Sorrow.


What is this season I am in? For the past decade, I have been The Girl Who Wasted Everything - and yet found redemption and restoration. I was enveloped in grace and it moved me forward and into ministry and fueled my passion. Like some superwoman, "Grace Girl" - it was my calling card and my truth.

My identity.

A few days ago, I watched a bit of a message I delivered about 18 months ago; I was talking and preaching and singing and telling and the passion was real, the Biblical truth buttressing the experiential truth of my grace-filled life.

These days, I live in that grace, still. But.

There's more.

Or less.

Less drama, maybe. I am happily married, glad for the quiet moments in the company of my husband. Happy to be home in the evenings with my sons, content cooking soup and washing the dishes.

I have arrived someplace.

I'm not sure where I am.

And regardless of the fact that I feel I have "arrived", I still wrestle with my humanity, with my weaknesses and my failures and the million times each day I think I'm getting it wrong. I worry I'm getting it wrong. I don't know who I am trying to please, but daily, I feel as if I am coming up short.

And maybe that's it.

Maybe I've gotten it in my head that since I've arrived someplace, that I've now worn that SuperGraceGirl cloak long enough; that it's high time I ought to Have It All Together and be still and know he's God a good bit easier than I seem to.

Maybe I think I ought to be a little less broken by now.

Maybe I've forgotten that forward motion, new joy, security and real love don't really ever negate the need to ask for help. Anne Lamott says,
"There's freedom in hitting bottom...relief in admitting you've reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you're still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It's exhausting, crazy-making. 
Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through.  
It is the first great prayer."
I have forgotten this one thing, that the pivotal point in my life ten years ago secured me to a tether that held me upright while my help came. And the trajectory since then has been filled with other pivot points, thumbtacks in the map tacked to the wall of my life, stringing a path of ups and downs and all over the place moments of mistakes and disease and death and tears and joys and loss and gain.

That place of great unknowing can be my soul, every day. And God knows there is so much around me that needs fixing...starting with me.

Help. I need that tiny miracle.

Today, I got my hands on it, and it felt good. Soft and warm and taut with potential.

And my headache went away.


annie said...

Your writing is so beautiful, and fills me with longing.

Brandee Shafer said...

Well. Here's the thing. Not that you need my non-wise wisdom. But I think your desire to be better and more helps you become those things. It's like this: if I have a day in which I yell at my kids (and I do have them), I feel so durn bad about not being the mom I should be that I end up waking them up at midnight, crying into their hair. I'm not a great mom, but I may well be better than ones who yell at their kids all the time and don't give it a second thought. Consider the apostle Paul: he was a force for the Lord; yet, he wrote in Romans 7 all that stuff about not doing the good he wanted to do and, instead, doing evil when he didn't want to do it. We're all in various stages of jacked-up-edness, and I think one of your greatest strengths is that you know you're a mess. I love you for being a mess and even more for knowing you're a mess and the MOST OF ALL for being so wide-open about being a mess. You make a hot piggy mess like me feel just so comfortable and beloved. Really. You're beautiful. Come over, and I'll bake you a cookie.