All the Days :: True Love

VDay2014

When you are inextricably trapped, stuck, incarcerated by 9 inches of snow and a 45-degree driveway, it tends to bring out the best, worst, ugliest REAL in all of us. If anything was hiding just beneath the surface of a quiet, nicely polished veneer of calm in any member of my family, well…after three days of lots of togetherness, it’s all hanging out now.

I would love to say that we embraced this time together in true Brady Bunch fashion with lots of sing-a-longs, board games, and crafting…well, there was some crafting for about 15 minutes…but that would not have been US – The Popes. Instead, in one room there was a three-day marathon of ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ and in the other was non-stop channel surfing between the World Fishing Network and the Outdoor Channel (I want to meet the heads of these two networks and have a heart to heart with them – WHY ARE THERE SO MANY COMMERCIALS? WHY ARE THEY SO LOUD? WHY DOES THE BACKGROUND MUSIC DROWN OUT THE FISHERMAN TALKING SO MY HUSBAND HAS TO TURN IT UP TO HEAR THEM????). And in the corner was me. With my ear plugs in.

In all honesty, I am quite proud of how we handled our unfortunate incarceration, there were no major melt downs until the end of day three. Sadly, it was Valentine’s Day and we were all just d-o-n-e. So instead of the day representing how perfectly our love manifests itself every single day (insert raucous laughter right here), it was messy. No cards. No candy. Flowers never arrived. Lots of frayed nerves and very little capacity to hold anything in. We were a group of people whose filters were eroding faster than the melting snow.

Valentine’s Day was probably better represented in our home the other 364 days this past year:

  • the day when Popey shoveled those 9-inches of snow off of said 45-degree driveway;
  • every single day for four months when Popey had to work 14-hour days, 7-days a week out of town;
  • the days when a week’s worth of filthy-sweaty-construction-site laundry had to be washed, dried, folded and packed up to leave again in just six hours;
  • the days when a week’s worth of food had to be cooked and packaged as individual meals to send to work with a man who didn’t have time to stop and eat or even go through a drive-thru;
  • the days of sleeping alone in two cities because work and family don’t cohabitate for us;
  • the days of mothering through the tough, rocky emotions of three teen-age girls alone;
  • the days of crazy long beards;
  • the days of crazy short hair;
  • the days of just plain C-R-A-Z-Y;
  • the days of just plain;
  • the days when he said, “Let’s go out to dinner,” because he knew I was spent;
  • the days when I said, “Let’s stay home for dinner,” because I knew he was spent;
  • the days we spent in bed watching TV together when he only had one day off that week and was too tired to do anything else;
  • the days when one of us or both of us realized we don’t understand the other one nearly as well as we thought, but we love anyway;
  • the days one or both of us realized we don’t understand ourselves as much as we thought we did, but we cling to the other one in desperate hope that they’ll hang in there with us through it (it’s possible that one was just me);
  • the days of getting up and doing all the things married people do when they are tired, lonely, feel misunderstood and misrepresented, and missing the fairy tale they thought they signed up for on day one when they said ‘I do’;
  • ALL THE DAYS.

The ordinary days of what true, messy, real love is. Most of the time it’s just showing up, even when you have nothing to offer, and doing the best you can and trusting Jesus for the rest.

And then there’s the day after Valentine’s Day while you are typing a blog post about true love, and the bedraggled UPS man shows up in the melting snow and ice to deliver the two dozen roses that were guaranteed for delivery on Valentine’s Day. And they are beautiful. But they pale in comparison to the brutiful mess we make every other day of the year.

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Thank you for loving me well Popey. For almost 27 years you’ve taken good care of me and loved me even when neither one of us knew how. I pray we have many more brutiful messes together. I know there will be more messes because I understand now what I didn’t on our wedding day – neither one of us have any idea what we are doing!

(And for the sake of my sanity – please turn down the fishing channel…uuuuggghhh!)

The Truth

Last week I found myself on the other end of the line of someone else’s crisis. After two panicked phone calls and several text messages that didn’t feel sufficient or comforting enough for someone coming unraveled (her, not me this time), I was suddenly overwhelmed by the peace of The Truth. And I heard God whisper to me that He is enough for me, and He is enough for her. In Him she is safe and well loved. And I can relax.

So I simply sent texted the following:

“You are the righteousness of Christ. You are complete in Him. You have EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness. In no way are you deficient or ill-equipped to handle whatever comes into your life because you have Christ, the Creator of the universe (and you) living inside of you. And you really can do all things in Him. Not by yourself. He sees right where you are and is crazy about you. He doesn’t care if you handle things perfectly He just wants to do life with you. Every second of every single day.”

As I typed that message the words rang through me like a bell.

He is more than enough.

For me.

For you.

For all those we love.

In any storm we face.

Psalm 46:10a (ESV) ~ “Be still and know that I am God.”

While We Are On The Subject…

I didn’t intend for my last post to be so much about my mental health as I did for it to give perspective on my slower pace right now.

However, while we are on the subject…I would like to follow-up with a little bit of commentary on my Day in the Life of A Crazy Woman.  We all go through challenging, busy seasons.  Seasons when because of circumstances beyond our control we have to dig deep, trust God and depend on Him for our very next breath.

The specific day I described happened in a season when on top of everything else one of our daughters was dealing with a long-term medical issue (multiple surgeries, physical therapy, regular doctor visits and lots of pain) and my husband had returned to school in addition to his full-time job.

Unfortunately, a brief season turned into a way of life for me.  I lost hope and I resigned myself that all of my days were going to be just like the one I shared so I better just suck it up and keep moving.  I believed a lie that I was responsible for everybody and everything and that it was all up to me.  I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  Or more accurately, I was carrying it all in my digestive tract.

But God loves me, all of us, so much more than that. He gave me a gift that I would never have asked for and not one I would like to repeat. He let me completely fall apart.  One day not only did one of my many plates stop spinning, they all did.  At the exact same time.  In a very messy way.

And I was undone.  My “episode” was a blessing.  In a very brief period of time I got a clear glimpse of myself and my so-called-life and I knew I didn’t want it anymore.

That was eight years ago.

I didn’t know what my next step was, but it was a start on a long, slow, beautiful, painful journey.

So if any of the craziness in my last post sounded eerily similar to your own life, I would just like to say to you, God loves you and He’s got a better plan.

I am not claiming to be an expert on how to do this right, but I know I am an expert on how to do it wrong.  If a difficult, stressful, out-of-control season of life has become the definition for how you live your life, then I would like to suggest that you run, not walk, to your prayer closet.  If you’ve forgotten where it is, no worries, just lock yourself in your bathroom. Or you can just hide under your desk in your cube and call your Mommy, like I did.  Same difference.

Once you are there, just pour it all out to God and ask Him to reveal to you some ways you might be able to lay down your burdens.

If you think busy and chaotic are a normal part of life in 2014, and that I am just weak then talk to your friends and your spouse.  Ask them how they would describe your life, watching from the outside.  Ask them what it’s like to have relationship with you.

My friends would and actually did say that they had no idea anything was wrong because they thought I had it all together.  That should be one of the scariest things you ever hear from a close friend because NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER!  If we think we do, IT’S A LIE FROM THE DEVIL!

We were created to live a life in total dependence on the Father through His Son.  Period.  Anything else is an illusion of real life.

Hopefully you have lived in authentic relationship with your friends and they will tell you the truth.

Now if you read the crazy part of my last post and recognized immediately that my life was out of control and I needed help in the most desperate way.  Congratulations!  You are a healthy individual.  I would like to ask that for the sake of your friends, pray for them.  If you recognized someone else in my words, ask God to reveal His love and acceptance to her.

And ask Him how you can love your friends.  Love is not letting your girlfriends walk around with their dress tucked in their pantyhose, lipstick on their teeth, or their crazy hanging out all over the place. And if in fact, you have a sweet sister in your life that appears to have it all together…SHE DOES NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER.  She is very likely dying a slow painful death on the inside.  She won’t like it one bit, but she needs you and Jesus desperately.  She will be humiliated that someone knows the real truth about her.  But I promise she’ll get over it the first time she sleeps through the night without waking up with a panic attack.

You don’t have to have the answers, just point them to Jesus and trust Him to love them through you.

Abundant, reigning life in Him is possible.  He wants to show us how and He wants to live it with us.

I’m No Multi-Tasker

Years ago I remember one typical Wednesday evening leaving my office in downtown Charlotte about thirty minutes late.  My kids were little so I had to pick them up from afterschool care by six.  Obviously I was going to be late, barring a miracle right up there with The Parting of the Red Sea. Unfortunately, there was some unfinished disaster at work that I had been unable to resolve before I left. And my husband was running late from class. And he and I were both supposed to be at church by 6:30 pm so that we could practice with the worship band before service. And we had to eat.

(There are just so many things wrong with those first few sentences! And it feels really strange that I’ve never written in this space about singing with church worship bands for 18 years of my life…material for more posts!)

On the ride down from my office in the elevator to the parking garage I closed my eyes, ignoring all of my co-workers and friends, and mentally prioritized the challenges I needed to take care of ON MY DRIVE HOME (the all caps are just to reinforce the insanity of the situation).  So when the elevator doors opened I practically ran to my mini-man, jumped in and pulled off almost before I had time to close my door.  I then proceeded to cut other drivers off –you can read “other drivers” as “people who were as worn out, spread thin, beaten down, exhausted and frantic as I was”–as I wound my way up and out of the bowels of the prison I worked in.  (Just so you know, all those pretty, shiny, glass and metal buildings downtown wherever you live are an illusion.  They are really prisons where the bars are invisible but daily people slave away without ever feeling like they accomplish anything, trying to keep their heads above water and not get fired…or maybe that was just me).

As soon as I shot up out of the parking garage like a cannon ball and had cell service I called the school and let them know I was going to be late.  Then I dialed the local Italian restaurant near home and ordered a pizza for pick-up. When they asked for my name I just told them I would be the woman running in the door like her hair was on fire. As soon as I hung up from that call my phone was already ringing. My boss and I then spent the rest of my drive hashing through some “life and death” issue that had to be resolved before I went to bed that night.  I think whoever invented the technology that allows us to be 100% available 100% of the time should be shot. And for goodness sake, what life and death issue can a bank really have? It’s just money people!

The rest of my trip was a total blur, but I remember standing on the stage at church at 6:30 pm, exactly on time, quite proud of myself.  I had faced multiple challenges, but I had masterfully used my multi-tasking skills and conquered all obstacles. I am pretty sure my kids ate in the van and I seriously doubt my husband and I said anything to each other on the way to church, but we made it.

We made it, but I had to work until midnight when I got home to meet a deadline. And then I had the privilege of getting up at 6:00 am the next day to start the whole thing over again, after waking up all night every hour on the hour because of all the ANXIETY!!!

In case you are reading this and thinking, “Wow! That sounds like my life,” or “Wow! She’s insane,” please know three things: 1) that scenario happened multiple times a week in my life during that season; 2) it’s not a life; and 3) that specific incident happened only a few short weeks before I had what I like to call an “episode” when I cried uncontrollably for three days and I had to be on antidepressants for several months just to function.

It was terrible and it was torture.  If I was with my family I was worried about all of my problems at work and how the world was going to fall apart if I didn’t solve them.  If I was at work I felt terribly guilty about my failure at being a good wife and mother.  And I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough to serve God.  Multi-tasking gave the illusion of life by keeping me so busy that I didn’t have time to stop and think about everything I was missing…like breathing and laughing.

All that to say, I used to hold a graduate degree in multi-tasking, but no more!  The other day I was trying to turn left at a busy intersection at night and I had to turn down the music and cease all conversations in the car so I could concentrate and make the turn safely.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that lately it’s been difficult for me to pause and put my thoughts down in this space.  I have TONS of them, my brain never stops and I feel like I am in constant conversation with the Lord, but my thoughts haven’t flowed out of my head and onto the blog as frequently as I would probably like.

My sweet Madelou pointed out that since the beginning of 2014 she and her sisters haven’t had a full week of school (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm) because of exams, holidays, and our CRAZY NC weather.  Plus our dog died. Plus my husband’s work schedule has changed multiple times. Plus…a hundred other things.  So I have just naturally been more engaged with my family.

What I really appreciate about this season is that as God has healed me with His Love I don’t feel the pressure to make things happen. I don’t feel like I have to write things down and publish them. I am free to be in the moment.  When I am engaging, embracing and enjoying (most of the time) each moment I move through and the people I move through them with, there’s less room for multi-tasking.  There’s nothing to prove, just plenty to be.

Someone asked me the other day about my slower posting frequency lately here on the blog.  I love this space.  I believe that one of the ways Christ uniquely expresses Himself through me is in writing.  But recently He’s been expressing Himself in other ways through me and I am just going with the flow.

Discovering what it means to be Fully Alive (or Totally Crazy)!

Restfully abiding in Him, trusting Him for all the outcomes, or lack thereof.

Amen.