Every day I waver between believing this COVID situation will all be over soon resulting in the return of normalcy as we knew it OR right now we are all witnessing society being reset in some kind of slow cataclysmic wave. I am not exaggerating when I say that every day my feelings shift back and forth in this regard. This emotionally charged shifting sand of feelings is primarily ignited by social media scrolling and by consuming regular news media neither of which are particularly reliable or healthy.
If I am not careful my mind will take me six months into the future, and depending on the day, that future may include sitting and listening to my daughter play cello with her orchestra OR sitting in my house in a hazmat suit holding her as she watches her college dreams slip through her fingers. My mother heart worries about my sons and whether they will ever go back to school and march with the band. Fear can consume a lot of my time if I let it.
And yet, I cannot control the future.
We don’t know the future.
While it is annoying that we cannot see where this is all heading, it is probably a mercy that we can’t. Our human minds can only handle bits of tragedy at once, and speaking hopefully, perhaps we are moving toward blessing rather than tragedy. Why does our mind take some of us to tragedy so swiftly?
The last time my husband and I were facing a big change in our life I listened to a song over and over and over, and it comforted me. You can listen to that song here. I hope it comforts you to know that you are not alone in your shifting sand faith.
I’ve learned that my faith shifts depending upon what I consume. Like the fable about the two wolves living inside a man, and the one who survives is the one he feeds, fear grows when you feed it. Make no mistake. What is happening in our world IS scary. Whether we are being controlled by the government OR whether we are all bound to contract a serious illness, both are terrifying prospects. In both scenarios we, the public, lose. And I don’t know what the solution is to either reality. I cannot control it. Neither can you. What I can control is whether I live in fear or whether I live in faith.
Am I suggesting we visit Walmart without a mask and lick the credit card scanner? No. Am I suggesting that we trust everything out of the mouth of the government? Absolutely not. I am not even telling you to avoid watching the news. But…
If you will grant me this moment in your media diet, and listen to the voice of someone who struggles with depression and who has family members who are enslaved by anxiety, be mindful of how much you consume and be aware of what beast lurking within you are feeding. And the beast within will tell you that you need to be well-informed. And the beast within will tell you that you have everything to lose. And the beast within will tell you that information will help you maintain control. And I tell you, as a survivor who still wages these battles every day, the beast lies.
Be informed, turn it off, and make your own educated decision based upon hope and not solely based upon a daily charged tweet, post, or newscast. Remind yourself that people make money off of those mediums, and sensationalism sells big.
Be aware that nothing you own is truly yours. Give it away.
Be aware that the people around you are of God’s concern, and He loves them more than you do.
Be assured that you do not even have control over your next breath. Appreciate the next inhale… and exhale.
(None of that is a comfort to those of you clinging to sides of the fear pit trying to get out. I know how it works. This is not intended to comfort; rather it is a reality check. You might even feel angry right now after being told to turn off the TV. Anger is born out of fear.)
Things ARE changing. Good things are happening within that change. People are stepping up and speaking out. Look for the good. Seek out what NEEDS to change in your family system and in your church system and in your work system, and be a part of that growth. Notice that families are walking together outside. Notice that the sky looks bluer. Take your next breath and be thankful. Be grateful to live in a time where you get to watch all this unfold. Both the tragedies and the blessings bear witness to God’s plan and provision. You may be part of His plan, so support the sick. Protect the endangered. Pick up the phone. Love your people. Make the pain of this change worth it. Breathe.
Today I thought about heaven again. Most of the time when I dream of heaven I dream of a perfectly temperate place full of perfect flora and fauna perfumed with lilac and the occasional whiff of apple pie. I’ve never imagined inheriting a mansion. A cozy cottage happily situated in a wood is more my speed.
But today as I dreamed of the peace place promised to me, I imagined a banquet table loaded with delights like the world has never seen. Those seated at the table surprised me, and I questioned my thoughts as one often questions how much grace God can offer sinners who don’t sin exactly like you do. I laughed at my own imagination. Seated around the feast were the warring politicians of today all smiling and peaceful passing potatoes and the like. Right, Lord. Like those two would be at the same place enjoying each other’s company, here, in heaven. Right. Surely they are stopping that guy at the gate.
As I looked around the table I noted how each guest was a scoundrel while on earth; not one pure heart was represented among the lot.
Then I realized that I was sitting right there with them sharing turkey with the villains.
As I focused in on another face, it was someone who had deeply wounded me in the past. I’ve struggled to forgive this person. Forgiveness is work for some of us. Grudges are easy. But there he was, my adversary, enjoying the ambrosial banquet.
My adversary in heaven was stripped of his failures. His mistakes were no longer visible to my eyes. He was there, as was I, in perfect form whittled down to whom the Savior intended us to be, all love, all joy, all peace. And I loved him. And I knew God loved him. And I was humbled.
Back here on earth we have our separate corners. We have our own parties, our own people, our colors, our flags, our precious opinions and hills we die upon. But in the great beyond, there are no corners. There is one shared table, one shared Savior. Will we sit down with those who we’ve hated? Will we share dinner rolls with our murderers? I believe that is more our choice today than theirs.
In heaven, a perfectly normal scene could be an abortionist seated with the man who blew up the clinic.
In heaven, a Nazi sits comfortably with a Jew.
In heaven, your party is nothing. Your Savior is everything.
In heaven, the abusers and the abused share in the same divine helping of grace and a heaping dollop of mercy.
In heaven, forgiveness melts what tore us apart. Oh, how I wish we could share in that banquet now, where all is peace and joy and love. And I suppose if we cannot come to terms to eating with the villains and the saints, then we have another choice altogether of where to sit though the seats in that abode are not as comfortable.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
I heard from God today. I’m often so entrenched in my own selfish bubble that I miss some really sweet messages of comfort. Today I got it. I hear you, Lord. Thank you. And, man, did I need it! Right on time, as usual.
It goes without saying that raising children in the faith today feels impossible. From every direction my kids’ heads are turned away from the path of the cross. For the most part, Hollywood mocks morality as well as the authority of parenthood. Unfortunately, my kids witness Hollywood on every screen in their life from their pockets to the theater. Politicians cheapen Jesus using him a vote manipulator. Churches struggle with entertaining or emoting my kids into belief. Our school teachers, while I know they believe, are limited in everything they say and do. My children’s best friends in school are not believers. From every angle, a walk in faith for my children is often lonely and confusing.
I am burdened by this. My heart aches thinking about it, primarily because I know that the two people at the helm of this family ship are so very faulty. Dave and I try hard to be good examples for the kids, but we fail. Daily, we fail.
My kids sit in a front row seat at my sin showcase.
Time is so precious, and I have so little of it. Getting in bedtime prayers and attempting spiritual conversations at our twice a week family dinner are generally our biggest opportunities for spiritual connection with the kids. The older they get the more difficult it is to find the time to ask them probing questions and get into faith discussions. And every year that has gone by has stolen one more family meal time. Instead, we shuttle people to rehearsals, practices, lessons, and meetings and talk in the car. The car is a great chance to try to get into their heads, but it too, is so minimal. Time never stops, but we refuse to let time steal every opportunity from us.
God knows that my heart is heavy with the burden of sharing my faith with my children and today I saw this…
“He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” ~Matthew 13:33
I have three children. I recognize that biblical translations of this particular verse vary in the interpretation of the “three measures of flour”. And I’m not going to attempt a huge theological exposition on this tiny parable. Nevertheless, for me and my heart, what I read in these few words was the encouragement that my best efforts to work the word of Christ into the hearts of my three children won’t be all in vain. Small dividends will pay off. What God spoke to my heart today is that regardless of limited time and my giant glaring inadequacies, Christ uses my efforts to reveal Himself to my children. My limited and fallible attempts at sharing Jesus will result in growth. Thanks be to God!
Be comforted, parents. There is hope in Christ. Our attempts to share Jesus with our kids can pay off big, not because of us; rather, in spite of us.
I stood beside a quiet lake with the Lord.
I asked Him what purpose my life holds.
He smiled at me and looked down.
He chose a stone and threw it into the middle of the lake.
The circles started small.
Until the waves kissed the shore at every edge.
“I see, Lord.” I replied.
“You want me to be the lake and feed the forest around me.”
“You want me to nurture any living being I can.”
“You want me to supply every need to this forest of trees.”
He responded with a simple shake of his head and smiled.
“No, child. I want you to be the rock.
Your life is but a vapor, a small moment in time.
You are the rock, but your life will create waves of change.”
I have gay friends whom I love.
I have family who voted for Trump.
I have family who voted for Hillary.
I have pro-life friends and pro-choice friends.
I have atheist family and Christian family.
I have Muslim and Buddhist friends.
I have Hispanic loved ones, some who are undocumented members of this society with American children.
I have friends of all colors and some who dye their hair green.
I have military men and women in my family.
I have pacifists in my family.
Today. Today I feel torn in half.
I feel and see pain everywhere.
I read words that should never be written.
I see sights that I’ll hide from my children.
I hear good people saying hate-filled things.
in their rage,
in their mourning,
in their triumph,
in their pride.
Today. Today feels like my parents are divorcing and I must choose sides.
And I won’t. Because I love you all.
At any given moment some of you would hate me, it would seem, because of my associations. Hate me for not choosing a side. Hate me because I’m a believer. Hate me for having certain friends. Hate me for not picking a team.
And I won’t. Because I love you all.
As always, the only side I stand on is love. The only theme of my life that I want to wear is love. The only association, the only fraternity, the only pledge, the only offering I have is to love. Love you all.
Today if you are emboldened to hate. You have already lost the battle.
Today if you are paralyzed by fear and hopelessness, you are turning your back on the great provider and His plan.
Today if you are sad, I understand.
Today if you are rejoicing, I get it.
Please don’t forget. Your actions today, your words today, impact tomorrow. And there will be a tomorrow.
Don’t let today wound tomorrow.
Let love be in your words even in your pain. Let love be in your actions… always.
A middle-aged woman stood in front of her mirror one evening before bed. She was saddened by her reflection and thought back to her younger days. Suddenly, in the mirror she could see her Lord standing behind her, yet when she turned around she could not see him. They began to talk. Looking at her reflection she sighed and said,
“I’m getting wrinkles, Lord.”
He replied, “You are growing in wisdom.”
“I’m so tired.”
“In me you will find rest.”
“I’m not as pretty as I once was.”
“To me, you are my perfect work of art. You are special and one of a kind.”
“I’ve gained weight.”
“I’ve always provided.”
“I lost my job today.”
“I won’t stop providing.”
“People confuse me, and I’ve lost a lot of friendships over the years.”
“I’ll never leave you. My commitment is unending.”
“I’m not sure my children even love me.”
“I’m not sure my children love me either. I love you.”
“I’m scared sometimes when I’m alone.”
“You are never alone. I’m here.”
“You are good, Lord.”
“Thanks, for saying so.”
With that, the woman smiled at her reflection, took a deep breath, and went to bed.