Thursday, April 19, 2012

Darkened Room

The one bad thing about having a blog is that I have to watch how honest and transparent I am. If I had  hemorrhoids, people definitely would NOT want to read about that. (And I really don't, by the way.) No one wants to read about a fight that I'm having with my husband ... no one wants to hear about family problems ... no one cares about health issues. Basically, people don't want to hear all of that stuff. However, my life is full of issues that I keep quiet and under wraps, and those are the issues where God is stretching me and teaching me. I need to be sensitive to my family and to my readers so that no one is particularly offended or appalled at what I'm sharing.

My problem? I tend to be overly honest and transparent. My face, body language, and voice inflections gives my feelings away. And if you hang around long enough and I semi-trust you, I'll wind up bearing my soul to you. If I've done that and you've been frantically looking around you for a way of escape, I'm issuing a blanket apology right now.

Currently I'm dealing with some fear issues. Out of respect for someone I love (privacy, not telling too much, blah blah blah), I'm not going to go in to any details. But let's just say that the routine, structure, predictability, and security of life is being shaken right now. And, if you know me, you know that I absolutely L-O-V-E routine, structure, predictability, and security.

This is the picture that God has given me. It's like we're walking in a darkened room without knowing where the light switch is. The fear of falling and getting hurt immediately comes over me. Okay, I'll be really transparent and honest here -- it's the fear of the boogey man that I KNOW is hiding in the corner waiting to pounce on me. So, there are two options: 1) Freeze where I am and panic; 2) Grab on to a hand of someone who knows where the light switch is and let them guide me.

Notice that the first option was to freeze and panic? That's because that is my first response. I usually can wind up terrifying myself with all of the "what-if's" and wind up hysterical. The problem with this response is that I'm still in the dark room, I'm not making any advancements or progress, and the pain will not only be probable but inevitable because I'll wind up flailing and trying to make it through without knowing what's ahead of me. Nothing good is accomplished and I'm absolutely alone in what I'm going through (unless the boogey man is there and that's still not a good picture).

The second response is obviously the one that God is wanting me to choose -- both for my benefit and our relationship. God doesn't need to reveal His plans to me so that I can give my approval, but He does want to make the journey with me. I may not understand all that is happening or even why it is happening, but God is capable. My heart understands that. My job is to trust and follow while He leads me through. My security is not in the light switch (revealing what I want to know), but the Guide Who leads me through the darkness. I learned many, many years ago that He is sovereign, can be trusted, and is my salvation. By placing my hand in His while He leads me through the darkness of not knowing and fear, my faith and our relationship is strengthened and grown. And He reminds me that's what ALL of life is about ...

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He willl never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Carrying My Mattress

It was May 3, 1999. I ran through the house, adrenaline pumping through my body. I was barking orders to my children, hurrying everyone into the small half-bathroom in the center of our house. The largest tornado in the written history of the world (at that time) was heading toward our town, and I was admittedly panicked. Of course, it could have been a teeny tiny little ole tornado and I still would have panicked (I've never learned to be comfortable around those things!). And I live in the heartland of Tornado Alley -- go figure!

In spite of my freaking out, I herded our children (and dog!) into the bathroom, then scurried back to get a mattress off of one of the beds to use for protection from the possibility of flying debris. Later, after the danger had passed (the tornado wound up changing direction and went a few miles south of us) and my husband came home from work, I was relating what had happened and discussing with my family how fear and adrenaline can make you physically able to do things that you normally wouldn't have the strength to dol. I had run through the hallways of our home carrying a large, bulky mattress oveer my head ... single-handedly ... all by myself ... all alone ... I was Superwoman!! Ta da!!!!

Our boys literally collapsed in laughter when they heard me recounting the story of my panic-stricken night, because it was so different from the one that they had seen. In my frenzy, I thought I had been given a super-human strength. Seriously. I remember thinking I could have probably lifted a Volkswagon that day. I was that hyped up with adrenaline. In reality though, I discovered my youngest son had been carrying the mattress behind me. I was basically just balancing it, even though I thought I had been doing all of the work. No wonder it seemed so easy! Now, every time we hear that a tornado is heading our direction, this is a favorite story that has to be re-told. Woo hoo. "Mom thinks she's strong enough to carry a mattress all by herself" ... "Mom freaks out when tornados are around" ... "Let's laugh at Mom -- AGAIN!" So glad I can be the entertainment for our family.

The most interesting part about this incident, however, is the dead give-away to my fleshly character. My nature is one of independence. I want to be able to "do it myself". I want to lean totally on me and what I'm able to do. I want to count on my strength to save me or those I love. How often I've tried to "carry the mattress" of my life and my circumstances! How often I've tried to do what only God can do.

I've been created with a need to be dependent upon God, to be in fellowship with Him. When I lean on anything but Him (including me!) for my strength, I am only fooling myself. Just as I couldn't carry that mattress through the house on my own strength, so I can't be the right type of wife or mother (or Nammy!). I can't generate my own peace and security. I can't be a godly witness to those around me. I can't see in to the future to know what paths or directions to take. I might be able to accomplish a little towards these goals, but without God's strength, the road is harder, the heartbreak is stronger, and the mattress is definitely waaaaaaay heavier. What I am able to do on my own is second best to the blessings God has in store for me when He is allowed to work in and through me.

There is not a whole lot that I can do on my own that will truly excel and succeed, but there is everything good that God and I can do together!!

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness"
2 Corinthians 12:9