All through the night while sleeping, my brain was still “On” apparently as I awoke with multiple thoughts immediately flying around. In my last blog entry, I referred to the adoption conference called “Joy for the Journey”. And how something was deposited. It’s like a computer “upgrade” that happens. You’re not sure what all is new yet though you see some obvious things right away, you know there’s more.
I woke up with An African Proverb on my mind.
Another reason I love the word “Journey” in the title of the ministry “Joy for the Journey”. The world in general, the adoption road, the road with kids with special needs, the one with teenagers, the one with hurting people … ALL these roads are long and hard. We must do it together. (All of my books written thus far have had the word JOURNEY in the title! Clearly, I love that word.)
I mourn the loss of the days my grandmother’s generation talked about. Group of women sewing a quilt together perhaps. They’d sit around and chat. Maybe one would say how they’re struggling with an issue. Another shares a brownie recipe. They laugh. They cry. They share. They bond. Community.
We’ve lost that in our modern age. My husband and I have a bit of a similar thing in our house church. But it’s not quite enough for my needs. And besides, what about all those people who have nothing like it at all. How do we create community?
I shared at the conference about what it’s like to get DISCONNECTED. I shared part of my story about how life circumstances and “Duty” came first and relationships came second. And I ended up isolated. Broken. Empty. But I got all my jobs done.
Most of that disconnect was my fault and the circumstances of life. But part was because we don’t do this any more. People see how busy someone is and they don’t want to bother them. Since when is a friend a BOTHER?? I think people need to see busy people and think how they can help share the load so they can both go further. But we need to retrain our brains to do that.
We spend time on Facebook … but how much of that is REAL versus pretending. We’re all guilty of that. We edit pictures to crop out the dishes in the background. We take 5 pictures until little Johnny is actually not glaring at us and we only use that one. And so it creates this IMAGE that all is well in my house when sometimes … it’s not. It’s just not. It will be. But it’s not fine yet.
And in our busyness of doing surface chats from afar, we think those will take the place of REAL connections. Of sitting together in one place. Chatting while the kids play in the background. It’s impossible to hide my proverbial warts when you’re sitting right there with me. You SEE them. You also see my needs and I can see yours. Maybe you have a missing piece to my puzzle and I have one of yours.
Now don’t get me wrong … some of my best friends I have never met. I know that sounds ridiculous unless you’ve experienced it. But it’s true. We have found ways to share the REAL but across the miles. We don’t just crop out the stuff we don’t want the other to see in the telling of our lives. We share it all. And those relationships have kept me afloat many, many times.
But there is something about being together in one place. Sitting. Eating. Our spirits connect in a different way. And after this weekend, I knew I needed even more of this. It feeds my very soul. And with that, I can be a better wife and mother.
And maybe in those meeting times, I discover I don’t have to be perfect. I can be real. In fact, I’m always fighting for and talking about this. If I go around pretending that everything is fine in my little world and you’re struggling, then it says to you that you are broken or less than. Maybe you think you’re not a good Christian or not a good mom or are failing in some way. Too little faith. Not enough prayer. Whatever. When the truth is … you’re probably right where you need to be. God has you in the palm of His hand and He’s working on you for His glory and His purpose.
In contrast, if you see I’m a good, Godly woman who has a loving husband and amazing kids. You see I’m a woman of faith with deep commitment to God and family … and yet … I’m struggling too. Then maybe, just maybe, it encourages you.
God is a redemptive God. He takes broken, messy lives and hearts and puts them back together in the way HE wants them. Years ago, in the middle of some really hard times, I wrote a song called “Catch My Tears” … Maybe I’ll dig it out and share the audio track for that. But there was a line in the middle that changed my life. I was given this line by direct inspiration from the Lord. How do I know that? Because I didn’t know this before I wrote the song.
The line says, “You have a purpose for my heart and You are shaping me.” Seems simple enough. But to me it was profound. It means that there is a very specific purpose in the Kingdom of God for ME. And there’s a shape I need to be in to fit that purpose. Right now I’m not in that shape yet. Therefore He is molding and shaping me into my Kingdom shaped Purpose. He’s working on you and your shape.And it hurts.
It means letting go of parts of “Me” and exchanging them for Christ shaped parts. The exchange is always worth it. And we always get the better end of the deal. But it’s a painful process. I’ve found in my life that the faster I get to the surrender part, the less the pain though. And in our minds, it seems backwards. I’m not saying I get there easily or right away. I’m saying I get there faster than I used to.
It’s the reason we can’t compare ourselves. Or judge each other. God is working on me and helping me become the shape He wants me for the exact purpose I have in His kingdom. Meanwhile He’s working on you for YOUR purpose and YOUR shape. We have no clue where God is leading YOU by the life experiences on your journey. But we can sure as heck support each other in the journey. And that is what it’s all about.On Jacob’s 15th birthday, he asked why he had kidney disease and was on the autistic spectrum (Not the words he used but what he was asking). And I told him this very thing. That somehow, having these things is what was going to help him get into the shape God wanted. (Now of course we also believe in healing and we claim his complete restoration daily … but until we see that healing manifested in Jacob’s life, God has not stopped using this to help shape him.)
As a redemptive God, He sees the way big picture and we see the flea sized problem in front of us. Of course it doesn’t seem flea sized to us. And He taught me … if my problems seem too big, then I have made God too small in my mind and I need to go magnify HIM. Hold HIM up, not the problem.
While we were going through some of those roughest of times, I felt like worrying … a lot. And God used a teenager in our church to preach a message about Jehoshaphat. Basically … God promised to fight their battles if they would just praise Him. And the Lord is faithful so that happened.
I realized … why can’t I claim that same promise?? So every time I’d start to feel the fear grip, instead of indulging in the fear, I’d set myself to praising. Sometimes I’d put on a cd and just worship. Other times I’d be up dancing and singing. Sometimes I’d sit at the piano and plunk out a tune. It’s how hundreds of songs were birthed. (Can you tell that I had a lot of fear and worry? LOL) And one of those was the one I just referred to.He was healing me through those moments of praise. He was equipping me in that intimate time.
This redemptive God also has a non-human view of time. I often thought He was late. VERY late. But He would always ultimately show me that His timing was indeed perfect. Just like a few months ago and there was the fire on our porch. I’d have preferred He just put it out with a gust of wind or a small rain. No need to bother me. Just take care of that please. But instead, I needed to be reminded of a few things I guess. So He told Dan to go look outside. And we have learned to be obedient. The fire was manageable. 5 minutes earlier and it would have been too small for Dan to notice and 5 minutes later it would have been in the house. Timing. Guess He’s pretty good at it afterall.And so it leads me full circle. I have to think about the timing of this weekend. Why NOW? Why was this community of Sisters brought together at this time? And what will come of this?
It’s not enough if we all just heard some funny or sad or inspirational stories. It’s not enough to have gathered. It’s not enough to have met new people. There has to be change in the way we think, the way we behave, the way we believe, the way we respond, the way we mother, the way we love, the way we live. This weekend has to be something that carries beyond a few days or weeks. It has to be a new way of living. We have to yield to the process of becoming the shape God wants us for the “us” sized Kingdom purpose. Warts and all.