Thursday, June 16, 2016

When We're Not Measuring Up

Preface: I wrote this a couple of months ago, and hesitated to post it as I’m passed the feelings.  However, I know they’ll be back for me, and they might be assaulting you today or in the future.  So… here’s some truth from my heart to yours…

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

“Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
No one can recount to you;
Were I to speak and tell of them,
They would be too many to declare.”
Psalm 40:5

The Lie: If cleaning this pile of clutter is my biggest accomplishment today, I need to reassess my value.

The Lie: 

Often, life’s told me that I wasn’t measuring up to my potential; and, what do I do when I need to recharge my guilt level in this respect?  I dwell on a poison of choice: I’m not working hard enough, not challenging myself, not producing enough, producing less than my best… 

Sometimes, Satan really knows how to hit at one of the cores of our perceived identities: the work we do.

Growing up, even when I knew I was making God-led choices, they weren’t always easy choices.  I faced a few uncontrollable, limiting factors (as many of us do); however, I was optimistic about the future.  When I was young, dreams dangled abundantly, waiting for me to clasp one: anything was possible, and I was willing to follow God anywhere.

Now… I feel each decision like hardening clay, setting the foundation of my life as I grow older.  Not only are some options off the table, I no longer feel as adventurous as I once did: tangible pieces of my life are at stake. 

So, I’ve been wrestling.  First, I doubted myself as a new teacher & entertained the tantalizing thoughts of paths forgone.  I chose to give my life away to service, which often is met with thankless days, but enough reward to encourage me.  At the same time, I remember dreaming of a way it might be possible to stay home with my children one day, simply fulfilling that call to be a godly woman and maybe that long dismissed leaning towards youth ministry. 

My reality: the baby needs "things"... always.  And I am the "thing" fulfiller.

My Reality:

Here I am.  Living the dream.  

Basking in the glamour of dirty diapers, snotty shirts, and fever-filled sleepless nights.  I never imagined fulfilling my dreams might leave me feeling so empty.  My purpose is to wrangle a sick child all week?  Seriously, Lord?  Even a run to town for an errand would make me feel a little like a person, but homebound we’ve often found ourselves this winter.  Many moments, I feel saturated in the blessing of my beautiful girls… singing songs… playing with Daddy… endless smiles.  Other days, I feel the only example I’m setting for them is as house wife and church mouse.  Even though that always seemed like a dream to me, I wonder if it's a life I want for my girls. 

Before you comfort me with the meaningfulness of raising children, or scold me for my ungratefulness, let me just say…

I know.

I know.  I know how lucky I am.  I know how many would envy my life.  I KNOW how my former self would be ecstatic to know my deepest urge - to grow a family on a farm and show teenagers how to love God - would be met.

But when we meet in a place of complete honesty… that doesn’t mean we don’t still wrestle in our blessings. 

We all have people who envy our lives.  So, what do we do when those demons slink into our hearts forcing us to wonder how our lives might have been different… if we’d tried a little harder… if we’d just measured up? 

The past few weeks, amidst round after round of sickness holding us hostage in our home, I’ve been wrestling.  Wrestling with God: is this is all there is?  Is this my greatest contribution?  Is there more?  Or shall my mind melt to mush with yesterday’s still soggy cereal in the bottom of the high chair?

The truth: everyday, she wants to be me.  I definitely have my work cut out for me.

The Truth:

As I wrestled, I hadn’t made time to really focus and clearly bring the issue to God (i.e. I was complaining, not listening).  So yesterday, zombie-eyed, staring into my picturesque backyard as I administered yet another breathing treatment to a sick child, I lamented to God.  Why would He give me potential, and I waste it away?    

As I indulged in regret, God retorted, in a singular, clear thought:

“Who are you to question the value of the work I’ve given you to do?”

And… that was pretty much the end of the conversation.  Touché, Lord.

I listened as His message echoed with “Who are you to measure the worth of the purpose I’ve laid before you?” and “Are you able to see the big picture?  Can you see my plan and the way all the work of my people interacts together?”  (And even more… who am I to judge His plan for my children? Maybe I’m setting the perfect example for what lies ahead of them.)

If anyone else had talked to me in that tone, I would’ve been immediately turned off.

But that’s one of the beautiful qualities of God.  If you’re brutally honest with Him, He’ll return the favor.  Instead of becoming bristly, I felt the tension in my core release… peace.  Peace over these weeks of wrestling.

The future: I don't know... maybe I could figure it out if God's plans led me back here for a little wrestling... #paradise. 

The Future:

I’m not underachieving.  I didn’t miss out on fulfilling some great adventure.  I’m living a great adventure – and who knows what lies ahead?  Well… Someone does… and I’m resting in His knowledge of my future as I go about my days.  Content.  Fulfilled.  Dare I say, measuring up?  But the purpose of my work was never about how it made me feel in the first place, was it…?  I’m not sure why I doubted God when throughout my life I've repeatedly prayed to be used as He would have me.  I’m just thankful God’s answers are timeless, and I’m seeing myself by His measuring stick today.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
My Savior and my God.”
Psalm 43:5

“This is what the Lord says:

‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, for in these I delight,’” Jeremiah 9:23-24

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