Thursday, April 17, 2014

Put away your sword.

Many of you know that my family is walking through the unknown right now.   Let's be honest, anyone within five feet of me (including the poor unsuspecting person behind me in the check out aisle)  runs the risk of hearing about it.  And while we always are walking through the unknown to some degree, this particular season has been really really hard for me.

So here is where I get weird.

I have these notebooks, you see.   Lots of notebooks.

And when I am feeling overwhelmed by the helplessness of not knowing which direction God may lead us; I write.  I write scenarios. I write budgets.  I write out pages and pages of  outlines for how life could possibly pan out with Plan A, Plan B, and Plans XYZ.  I research different career opportunities and what kind of education they might require.  I try to calculate how big or little a pot of gold we might have at the end of all these rainbows.

This is one of my quirks.  I've always been a dreamer and a planner.    And usually it's okay.  My use of lined paper to dream typically breaths a freshness and an excitement to my every day life.  Usually.  But lately, with so many  things unknown, my doodles and flourishes are turning into frantic chicken scratches that become less and less legible and more and more unreasonable as they progress.  

 Because I'm just looking for a way.   For a Rescue.  It is killing me to not have control right now, and I am fighting back with my notebooks and my internet research and obsessive over-thinking.  And it's turned my anxiety barometer up to unreasonable decibels.  It's all I hear.  All I can see.  All I think about.  Which is why I wrote I'm Showing Up.  The tension between my self and my Spirit has never been more palpable to me, and I knew that I needed to try, with His help, to be present in my everyday life.

But praise the Lord, He is not done with me yet.  There is always more.

So just this week, as God and the Bible and all things holy would have it, I have been studying the arrest and trial of Jesus with my Bible Study Fellowship (holler!) group.

And our boy Peter.  I'm really identifying with him these days. He sinks in the water.  He cuts a dudes ear off.  He denies his best friend.  Who IS THE SAVIOR OF EVERYTHING.  Peter has knee-jerk-self-preservation reactions to the chaos in his life.   He cannot, for the life of him, subject himself to the pain or walk through the fear to get to the other side of redemption.  

Peter wanted to fight the process.  He wanted to fight the not knowing.  He wanted to fight what had to be done in order for the story to be redeemed.  He could only see pain and persecution and imprisonment in front of him.  He could not see through to the other side.

But Jesus knows this about Peter.   Earlier that evening, Jesus had spoken these very words over His beloved friend:

Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? John 18:11

Because Jesus.  He knew.  Jesus knew that the sword would only get in the way of what had to be done.  And Jesus drank that cup,  walking through the fear to the Other Side of Redemption.  Through death and into life.   Bringing the abundant and forever life to all who believe that Jesus is who he says he is.   And that Jesus can do what he says he can do.  

But do I?

 Do I believe that Jesus is who he says he is?  
 Do I believe Jesus can do what he says he can do? 

Then why the swords?  Why the notebooks?  Why do I wield my pen like some sort of magic eight ball that will choose the story that is easiest and that looks the prettiest?  It really comes down to asking those simple questions of myself.  Do I believe Jesus?  Do I trust Him to walk us through this?  Do I believe in the Upper Story...what is happening in the kingdom of heaven that my eyes cannot see?

My answer is yes.  My answer is yes.  

Our pain and our trials can be redemptive if we choose to feed our faith instead of our fear.  If we choose to walk through the unknown and keep our eyes on Jesus instead of swinging blindly with our swords and writing frantically in our notebooks we will get to where He's called us to.  He will show us a way.  And He will use it and us to bring glory and honor to Himself.  Because that is what it is all about, amen?

Peter.  Put away your sword.

Rachel.  Put away your notebook.  

So I am.  No more notebooks.  For now.   I am trusting that Jesus is who he says he is.  I am checking in to my everyday life and investing all my energy into living in the unknown.   And wow.  It is totally unknown.  But I want to draw strength as I wait up on the Lord.  I don't want my anxious thoughts, my best laid plans, or my need for control to dry up the joy that the Lord has set before me.  

I'm done feeding my fear.  

He is risen indeed.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm showing up

I have not written in a really long time.  And wow.  I'm really feeling it.  I have a lot to process.  So many thoughts.   I HAVE ALL THE THOUGHTS.  However.   I repeatedly find myself in a face-off with my laptop every time I sit to write.  She stares at me, taunting me with her blank screens and that darn-it-all blinking cursor.  Write something.  Write something.     I am silently praying and willing all the thoughts to run down my arm and move my fingers to type something concrete.  Something meaningful.  Something beautiful.  But even as I  try to make these words come to life I am aware that writing is not going to magically just happen to me. 

Because writing.  It's a discipline.  Because working out.  It's a discipline.  Because the study and application of the Very Words of God is a discipline. Because loving Greg and loving my girls is a discipline.

Because really.  All I want to do is eat chocolate chip cookies and sleep all day.

Historically discipline and I have had a love/hate relationship.  Meaning I will spend three hundred dollars on Paleo foods and buy the latest cookbooks and read all the blogs and then two weeks in Greg will find me in a closet with a loaf of french bread and a stick of butter growling at him to leave me and my friends in peace.  Or I will have a vision for chore charts with matching stickers for the girls and after three days their charts are collecting dust under their dirty (and unmade) beds.

When it comes to discipline, I am all bark and no bite.


Well.  Just recently I hit a breaking point.  My body felt broken and tired.  My mind was so worn from my discipline plans starting and ending.  Starting again and ending again.  But the worst. The worst was my spirit.  My spirit felt weary and defeated.  I was tired of myself.  Tired of hot and cold.  Tired of dieting or pigging out.   Tired of my plans.  Tired of feeling like parable of the seed that falls on fertile soil only to pop up for a few days before withering away.  I was withering away.  

And that is where God always meets me.   At the end of myself.  Without fail.
My Jesus.  He met me.  He softly spoke over my heart: I will teach you a better way still.

I slowly began to realize, through prayer and Scripture and countless conversations with pillar people in my life that maybe, just maybe, there is a better way still.   Maybe it's not about discipline.

Maybe it's just about showing up.

Showing up to the gym even if all I can do is walk for ten minutes. Showing up to friendships where I've been a little checked out even if it's over e-mail or text.  Showing up before God, even if it isn't a life altering Jesus encounter every time.  Showing up for my girls even if it's just reminding myself, over and over, to be present and to look them fully in their little faces when they speak with me.

I want to show up to my life.  BECAUSE I JUST GET ONE.  I want to be as alive as I possibly can be in every moment I can be given.  I feel so done with crazy diets, blanket statements and making impossible-to-keep standards for myself.   I want to learn to be broken but to be present.   To choose progress over perfection.  To check out of the ideal and into my imperfect reality.  

Showing up.  Even if I feel a mess.  Showing up broken and vulnerable instead of scheming how put together I will be if I follow steps A, B, C.  Showing up and not making it about winning or losing but just about being.  Showing up with a patient heart that leans towards understanding that is not my own.  

Slowing my step.  Deepening my breath.  Eyes wide open.  Ready to do this.  

Because, if I'm being honest with myself, I know that is the only way to get to where I want to go.    Slow and steady wins this here race, and I am all in.  Even if it means crawling at times, this train is moving forward.  Inch by inch.  Showing up along the way.      

So.  I'm back.  I'm showing up on my little corner of the interwebs (as Greg likes to call it) and I am saving this space to not be polished or witty or perfect or even make sense.  I'm going to continue to show up, because I know that God wants me to use words for Him.   And as I fumble and struggle and mentally flip the bird at my computer screen I know that He is present and He is satisfied.