Monday, June 9, 2014
He stood there blowing more kisses as I drove away. I was late. I needed to make my appointment. It was a domino effect. I was late getting up and then I was late getting Dylan to the bus stop and then I was late getting Sean to school and I knew that that would make me late for my next two appointments. When I dropped him off he got out slowly and sauntered towards the school door. He wasn't depressed or trying to be slow, he was just enjoying life as he walked. When he got there he turned and waved at me. I waved back. He waved again and held the door open for two kids scurrying to class. He stood there in the door way and blew a kiss at me. I blew one back and then put my car in reverse, he blew another kiss so excited by this game, I blew one back and started to back out. Once more, he blew a kiss and I turned. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his face fall that I didn't return the kiss. He was late and I was late. I started to drive away with a twinge of guilt. I looked back to where he had been standing and he was gone. A stronger twinge of guilt. And then panic swept in, a big massive wave of panic. What if that was the last I ever saw of him? What if something happened today at school and the last time I ever saw him was backing out and denying him that one last kiss? Would I ever be able to live with myself? I knew that I could not. I started to cry. Clutching the steering wheel, crying, I circled the school with an internal struggle inside of me. Should I park the car and cancel all my appointments today and make sure everything is okay in the school? One should never give in to panic of every day life. But one should always give in to the leading of the Holy Spirit. But which was this? Life always seems to be a dance of " did He say… or am I just thinking..." I decided that it was the latter because of how it caught my emotions. If it's God it usually catches my spirit, but not my emotions so deeply.
I started to proceed to my appointments for the day but it got me to thinking. Sean knew that he had school to go to and he loves school and he loves his teacher. But he knew what he wanted in the moment and that was to blow kisses to me. He chose to be present instead of hurried. He was in his own little “not rushed and peaceful” world. In his mind, he has school all day every day for 12 years. Today, school could wait just a little bit while he blew kisses in the wind at me. I applaud that.
When I was was young teenager, I knew a lady in our church. I really looked up to her. I really aspired to be like her. She was always busy, always in a hurry, always running late. When she came to the door to pick something up, she would be insanely rushed - massive, thick ,curly hair blowing in hand wind as she whisked out to the car finishing up her story as she ran to her next appointment. She was always on the go and had several projects going at once. She seemed to have several balls up in the air and she was desperately harried and busy and loving life. I pictured my life like that years from that point. I pictured a baby in tow with little kids at my feet, talking on the phone while I was baking cookies. I pictured talking on the phone to person after person giving them advice and comfort and prayers while I was making supper and vacuuming the floor getting ready for company that night. I romanticized that busy life. It's exactly what I aspired to do and when I got married that is exactly what I did. Being in the ministry all of our married life, juggling ministry, home life, and work life and volunteer life and friendships, that's exactly what my life looked life for long seasons.
But I am writing a new story. And in that new story, I am not so rushed. And I won't make back to back counseling appointments in the evening like I did for so many years. And I won't make that calendar so full that I forget to be in the moment. I am beginning to learn not to jump every time I get a text message or notification on my iPhone for Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, those things can wait. They can wait. While I enjoy the moment.
Now before you think that I am advocating becoming a hippy and being late to all your appointments let me clarify. I understand that there are jobs and there is reality and there is the clock and all those things are important. But what I am advocating is to rethink our lives a bit. Because sometimes what we thought was so important aren't really the important things at all. And the things that we thought weren't that important are really the most important things in our lives.
It seems like in today's society, or at least in my mind, it seems that the more demands you have, the more people calling, texting, writing you, the more things you have to do or go to or speak at or be in charge of, the more you are IN demand - the more loved you are; the more valuable you are; the more important you are. My new story says that I am important even if my phone never rings, I am important even if I never come to anyone's rescue today, even if I didn't save anyone's life. Even if I didn't run myself ragged by running here and there trying to get way too much accomplished in a day, I am valuable, I am loved, and I am so important.
Yes I am writing a new story. And in my new story, I have time to blow kisses in the wind to my son.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
When I was younger, I received a very high electrical shock. I think I was 4 or 5. We were in Japan and something was wrong with the electrical system in our washing machine. I don’t remember a lot about it except that there was terror and there was pain and I couldn’t let go of the faucet that I was holding onto at the time. And I was screaming.
We were not a family that went to the doctor so it’s not a surprise that we didn’t go to the doctor to make sure that everything was okay with me. Mom just cuddled me and prayed for me. But something happened to me from that time. I was a child with severe nervous problems. As an adult, I can only describe them as panic attacks. There were episodes where my stomach felt sick and I was afraid I was going to throw up but it consumed me. I was terrified of throwing up. And it wasn’t just every once in a while. There was a season in my life that it happened everyday. And if I didn’t call my dad to pick me up from school, I wanted to because I always thought I was sick. It wasn’t always that. Sometimes I would think that I was going to pass out or faint or die in front of everyone. I would be humiliated and ruin everyone’s day doing something so far out and so horrible that it would be etched in their mind forever. And I would have no control over it. Its a hard thing to describe but as a child those were very real fears that I combated daily - sometimes hourly.
There were chunks of my childhood that literally passed me by as I was dealing with whatever was going on in my head, or my body or my emotions. I learned to deal with the debilitating fear. I learned - but that fear was never far from me. It was easily called upon and I never really knew when it was going to come out of nowhere and consume me or wreck my day.
There was one day in Japan… I was really excited. A minister from the States was going to come and speak to our little church in Japan. I was so excited. But there was a problem when i got excited. Excitement almost always triggered that debilitating fear. It was always a fear that I would ruin it somehow. I would throw up or faint, or lose control. However irrational, the fear wasn’t something that I could just talk down. It was very real and very terrifying and it overtook me.
I was eleven. I went to the bathroom, and I fell in a heap on the floor, crying. I remember this as vividly as I remember yesterday. Feeling the cool tile on my legs. Lifting my hands up to the sky in desperation, I cried, “Lord, when are you going to hear the cry of my lonely soul and see the desires of my heart?” The cry of my soul was to be free. The desire of my heart was to be free. I just wanted to be free. With all that I had within me, as a child of eleven, I just wanted to be free.
During an episode, my right hand would shake violently. This day was no different. I couldn’t control it. I sat there sobbing for a bit. I waited until it subsided, until my hand stopped shaking, until I could face the world again. No one would know the moment that I had in the bathroom. I got up and splashed water on my face and walked cautiously out of the bathroom. I tried to busy myself so that I wouldn’t get another episode like this.
That night, we went to the meeting and I was sitting in the front row, as I always did. The minister walked up to me, looked me in the eye and pointed his bony finger right at me. “The Lord wants to say something to you.” I looked up at him, for a moment terrified that I would have another episode but a peace settled on me as I met his stare. “ The Lord says, ‘Daughter, I hear the cry of your lonely soul and I see the desires of your heart…” Word for word what I had cried out to the Lord in sheer desperation just hours before. It was in that moment I knew that I would serve the Lord forever.
My nervous episodes didn’t disappear immediately, as you might suppose. I was not delivered from them that night instantaneously. But there was something about the fact that God knew me. He knew me so intimately that he quoted word for word what I had said - I knew that I could make it. I knew that it was going to be okay. God knew me.
There was a woman in the Bible that said the same thing. Her name was Hagar
She was carrying Abraham's child and although it was at Sarai’s suggestion, she began to be a bully to Hagar. She wasn’t treating her well. Hagar couldn’t take it anymore and she ran away.
I can imagine what she felt like - afraid, devastated and totally alone. But while Hagar was on the road an angel of the Lord met her. He gave her a message from the Lord. He told her she was going to have a boy. He told her the future and he told her to go back to Sarai.
What the Lord told her was hard. They weren’t easy things to hear and he had asked her to do something incredibly difficult. But suddenly her world was different because God knew her. She built an altar and said, “The Lord sees me.” You see, God didn’t change the circumstances in Hagar’s life. But the revelation that God saw her, changed her life; it changed her perspective. She was justified in running away. She was going through some awful things. She wasn’t just being weak. But she could obey God in returning home, she could live in those circumstances again and bear it, because God saw her. Really saw her.
Today, as you read this, God sees you. He sees you if you are lonely. He sees you if you are terrified. He sees you if you are broken. Even if no one else sees you. Even if you feel like you are carrying your burden completely by yourself - you are not. Because God sees you.