Thursday, June 26, 2014

Something Amazing...I Guess

I love Wednesday night prayer meeting. I love the mid-week fellowship, the casual nature of it and the sound of the soft voices sincerely entreating the same God...together. Sometimes tears. Sometimes laughter. Sometimes nothing but hope. Many of the prayers are years old awaiting a miracle. Many are new and swiftly answered. 

My impatience and passion is being tamed. Waiting is very hard. I'm not even sure always what I am waiting for. The future is wide open and totally out of my control. Sometimes I pray for anything. Any one of the prayers to be answered...just so I can adjust my position and get feeling back in my soul. Sitting still for too long makes things fall asleep. Things need to be shaken and moved. The pins and needles aren't unbearable, but they are very annoying and uncomfortable. 

In the meantime, I am supposed to serve, worship and live life. I know that. I'm just not very good at it. Thankfulness is critical in these fidgety moments. Learning to be thankful for quiet, static, slow-cooker times of life. God is always good. 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Pursuit of Flinchless Failures

"Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure." -G.K. Chesterton

 I had the privilege of speaking at our homeschool conference with a lovely bunch of hard working moms. I thought hard, planned well and printed off my outline and handout...both of which I left at home on my desk. Only 30 minutes before my time slot, my forgetfulness dawned on me, as I sat in on a fellow speakers impressive and confident presentation. A little heart palpitation...a little hard breathing...a little sweat...a lot of mind meltdown. It was the end of a tiring day, so my body was weak and now my mind was even weaker. Trying not to look obviously stressed, I gracefully sat my way through the end of that session and made my way to the quiet room I would speak in...feeling a bit like I was in beauty pageant swimsuit competition. Awkwardly high heeling my way across a stage, feeling bare and on the edge of disaster.

The room was solitary. The open window brought fresh air for my struggling lungs and the quiet stilled my thoughts. It was a perfect setting for recovery. I rested on my knees and laughed at the realization that the subject of my presentation was "How to Handle Failure". God was just giving me one last, real-life lesson on the topic I chose to learn and teach about. I drew a fat stick man figure on the room's whiteboard...with curly hair...upon which I jotted down the main points of the subject matter that I had studied. This four armed, faceless figure would guide my eyes through the presentation. This, along with scattered jokes, honest disclosure, the comforting and strengthening Holy Spirit and the friendly faces of kindred spirits got me through the soul stretching crisis.

A fool says everything that us in his heart. That's what Proverbs says. People like me need to find balance in how much and what to share with people. In this case, my heart needed to be wide open...but holding back so as to heed the Proverb. Vulnerability and humility were necessary to communicate the value of failure, to connect with real, live fellow failures and to give them permission to open up their hearts. Every heart has valves that open one way. Pumping oxygen craving life blood to the source of refreshment. Hearts were not meant to keep the blood inside, accumulating needy cells, until it is so stressed that it blows. Pretending that we've got it all under control and are doing GREAT all the time helps no one, including yourself. The key is finding that person or people that would be good, healthy listeners, deciding what and how much to share and letting God tell you when to speak those cathartic words of confession. Not easy. Some don't say enough and some say too much. The chosen listener must be safe in the sense that they will guide your crippled spirit to healing and not further hurt. Someone who offers a venting session, furnished with humanistic cliches, static excuses (that we often want to hear) and comfortable advise might feel good, but doesn't produce the fellowship of suffering that failure intends.

It's rather easy for us to see the value of physical exercise and to plan a regular work out routine. We can prepare ourselves for the strain it offers, accept the sweat and commit to the suffering. Knowing and seeing the health benefits of the thing make it worthwhile. It then becomes part of our lives. Something we embrace and value, even look forward to. Eventually, when we get past the early training and become acclimatized to the challenge, it doesn't seem as difficult most days. Those older and wiser than myself advise me of the truth of this. The trials don't seem so overwhelming as they age. The trust in God grows with every test, fail or pass, so the gray haired years become much less fearful. I'm not to the point of making failure appointments or scheduling trials for my soul work out, and we don't need to do that...they come quite naturally at the providence of God. What I am going for is less fear...more faith...embrace the trials...flinchless failures.

I still "kick against the goads". My flesh craves and wails for the pleasures of earthly life, but I'm afraid the bliss of ignorance is too far out of reach now. I know too much. I must be silenced. I silence myself and listen closely to that still, small, mind blowing voice of the One whose suffering we are called to share in. The fellowship with Him that can only be found in the suffering. Embrace the cross..the failures and the trials. Seriously...the victory, the strength, the laughable irony of it all and the closeness to Him are...dare I say it...worth it.