Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A vision of hope in the midst of chaos

Been doing a lot thinking about hope lately, largely in part because I feel like I haven't had much to spare.  Since my first doctor appt. for Little Lobdell, I had to go off a new depression medicine that I began taking in September.  (Read here for how that medicine has been a means of grace to me.)  But now, it's not an option.  And it has been hard.  It has been hard to look down the road more than a couple days in advance without immediately falling into despair or becoming so overwhelmed by emotion that I feel totally numb.

As he always is, Tommy has been so kind and supportive.  Saturday night was pretty yucky and instead of trying to fix it as I'm sure he wanted to do, Tommy just took my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, "Trust me."  Trust that when I can't see clearly, he will see for me...Trust that when I feel all is lost, he will remind me that it isn't...Trust that when I'm pretty sure I'm the worst person in the world, he tells me I am loved.  What a gift that man is to me.

But even the most loving support doesn't take away the heaviness of the burden that is depression.  So, on kind of a whim yesterday as I was writing in my journal, I asked God to heal me.  If not forever, than for the next 18 months.  (I can't have the medicine if I'm nursing either.)  I suppose I hesitate to ask for healing for the same reasons that everybody else does: doubt, fear that God will say no, fear of how I will handle a "no" if it comes, etc.  But, I am setting that aside and I am asking for healing.  My family is praying with me in this, that God will set me free from the weight of this burden so I can be the Jesus follower, the wife, mommy, pastor, and friend that I long to be.

I preached out of Mark 4 the other day, the calming of the sea passage.  As I was preparing for it, I was reminded of all the chaos in our world, stuff like depression, death, cancer, broken relationships, etc.  All of this chaos is not God's will for the world and one day, he will calm that sea, and ultimately as we are told in the Revelation to John, there shall be no more sea at all, thanks be to God.  But, I am praying for a glimpse of that glass sea for this season of my life, a glimpse into healing and restoration.  God, remember me and act on my behalf.  All glory to you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The irresistible temptation to REACT

Reacting vs. Responding....my conundrum of the day.  And by 'day' I mean the past year and a half.  I am discovering how different these two words truly are.  But let me clarify my terms.  I understand "reacting" to mean the quick, almost involuntary, elicited corresponding action to someone else's behavior.  In contrast, I understand "responding" to mean the intentional and informed corresponding actions to someone else's behavior.  As of late, I have been been confronted with the almost irresistible temptation to react instead of respond on several occasions, the first being a relational crisis between two girls and the second being an unfair (and untrue) rumor about my husband floating around, being perpetuated by church members no less.  I have to confess that on the first occasion, I gave in and reacted based on the "crisis" and wound up tangled in misunderstandings.  The second, I am still fighting off as we speak.  In fact, this blog post is occupying my fingers so I don't dial the phone.  There is nothing I would rather do more than react to these people's foolish (and sinful) behavior as quickly and thoroughly as possible, which would mean some seriously stern phone calls.

But I am checked in my spirit.  I am learning (slowly but surely) that when I feel that irresistible, urgent, almost frantic need to react to someone's behavior, my motives are usually self-oriented and punitive in nature rather than other-focused and redemptive.  If I am frantically searching the house for the phone and directory, trying desperately to find someone's number as quickly as possible, I am in serious danger of reacting instead of responding.  Bummer, because reacting is so exciting and easy justified as the just, Christian, maybe even pastoral thing to do.  Responding feels so sleepy and 'mature.'

Yesterday, I taught a membership class and we talked about Christian holiness.  In discussing the topic, I use words like empowerment, obedience, restoration, and radical optimism and always sum it all up with the term 'lordship.'  Who is in charge and who gets the final say?  So I am convicted.  Am I more anxious to react in order demonstrate my righteous indignation and exercise my pastoral authority than I am to wait, listen and respond in accordance with the voice of my Lord?

So, where do you stand on the issue?  Is 'reacting' ever justified?  How do we discern the appropriate times to react immediately as needed from the (likely more frequent) times when an intentional, prayerful, delayed response is more appropriate?  And why on earth is reacting such a temptation???  Enlighten me folks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Uncomfortable spaces...

I haven't written in awhile, mainly because I've been keeping a big secret and I didn't think I could blog without spilling the beans!  Tommy and I are expecting our first baby September 10th!  We are excited/scared/anxious/thrilled/freaked out/happy all at the same time.  If you would have asked me three or four years ago if I wanted kids, I would have given you an ambivalent "eh, maybe."  At that point, school was my priority and the two seemed incompatible for me, an academic woman in ministry and a mom? But as I continue to mature and deepen my understanding of my call, of womanhood, and true gender equality, being a mom doesn't seem so incompatible anymore.  Even though I feel like crap half the day thanks to my lovely little grape-sized guy or gal, I have a sense that this pregnancy will be empowering and, instead of detracting from who I always thought I wanted to be, it will shape me in unexpected and powerful ways.

For now though, all the lovely language of empowerment and womanhood takes a backseat to feeling kinda crummy, both physically and emotionally.  All the nausea and tiredness was expected, but I didn't expect the waves of feeling completely overwhelmed by everything and anything.  It seems like the simplest things, like choosing a VBS curriculum, can send me into a spiral of despair and anxiety.  Good times.

I have been reading 2 Samuel and I read today about poor Uzzah, the guy who tried to prevent the ark from falling was struck down by God for his efforts.  Not my favorite passage.  But, as I reflect on my own (slightly irrational, pregnancy-enhanced) anxiety, I wonder if I'm like Uzzah.  Instead of trusting God to do and preserve God's work, I feel the compulsive need to get my hands in there to make sure it all goes smoothly.  And somehow, I justify my sin of worry and anxiety concerning God's work by attributing it to my deep care or my role as shepherd or whatever.  But if I'm honest, it comes down to a lack of trust and an unwillingness to live in the tension of unresolved issues, waiting on God to make the way clear.  When I resist that uncomfortable space, I make decisions based not on God's instruction but on my own fear-based anxieties.  The reading from God Calling today said this, "You cannot be anxious if you know that I am your supply."  May I submit my anxieties time and again to the One who will meet all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.