I am procrastinating on the laundry that needs doing and choosing instead to write. Like most blogs, I am not always sure what needs to be said until it is out there. Today I am feeling compelled to get vulnerable and real about the past two days. As is often the case, when my family reunites for the weekend, in either Boise or Sun Valley, there are high expectations. Since the gang was coming to the mountains, I was psyched for a good old family snowshoe in all the new powder that has hit us. I will spare you all the details, but things did not go according to plan in the least. Tears, mood swings, anger, and the emotional roller coaster sent us all outside at different times and only one of us on snowshoes. I came away feeling discouraged, sad, angry, ashamed of my own lack of maturity, and completely off balance. By the end of the evening, the voice of fear and shame were loud and strong, causing me to question my ability be a good mom, wife, pastor, anything. I felt lacking in faith, stability, skills, and worth. I felt struck by a wave of darkness, with the journal entry to prove it. I was ready to throw in the ministry towel due to my own failings and find a job in Boise cleaning houses or working retail. (Nothing is wrong with either of these possibilities, by the way. For me, it would be a Jonah thing right now.)
Let me rewind now to a few days ago. I was on the phone with a dear friend of mine talking about overcoming fears and how joy often comes on the far side of listening to God’s voice instead of the liar in our heads. She questioned why Christians seem to present as these unflappable bastions of strength and wisdom? Why aren’t we honest about the struggle of our lack of faith? Why don’t we let people in when we are feeling spiritually weak? I think it’s because we all want to present the best sides of ourselves…kind of like Facebook. We want to post interesting things that involve ours or our children’s successes. We want people to see photos we like of ourselves, not the selfies with the blemish or double chins. We are afraid that if people see us as we truly are, they will no longer love or respect us. This is especially hard for Christians because we “should” be at peace knowing we have a God who loves us unconditionally. Jesus loves us so much that, as my pastor shared this morning, he wiped the shit off our feet on the eve of his betrayal. (Pastor Mark may have used a different word.) In theory, we should not succumb to despair or dysfunction or other such demons, right?
Here’s the thing. We are HUMAN. We are in process. We are both faithful and faithless, and right where God wants us to be in the sanctification journey. The Lord is not disappointed with us when we give into frustration, fear and shame, but will definitely throw us lifelines to get us back into the life abundant which we are made for. (I got that lifeline this morning when I was up early watching this. Thanks Brene – you are a gift.)
Can I fast forward to the highlights of my weekend to prove a point? We did not stay in the hard place of Saturday morning. We crawled off of the roller coaster ride admittedly reeling a bit. Last night we gathered around a cozy fire, and I found myself soothed with the voices of my family reading “The Princess Bride” aloud to each other. We got up this morning and went to church where God continues to be at work in the midst of messy, broken people – working to restore us and remind us of the redemptive truth of His Word. We played music with friends, hugged people we know are going through their own moments of darkness, were encouraged by both strangers and regulars, and drove home filled up. We made tacos together, followed by a round of decadent cinnamon rolls, smiled at each other and laughed. When Randy and the kids drove away a few minutes ago, I felt the emptiness that comes when my heart is wrenched from my body because part of it goes with them.
Family is both the deepest pain and the greatest joy of my life. We ride the ups and downs together. We marvel at the steadiness of one member and the wisdom of another. We are outraged at the beasts around and within us. We hurt and heal each other. For those of you on your own journey with the people God has placed in your life, my prayers are with you. No day is the same, thank goodness, and the ride can be wild. Let the God of grace and glory continue to inform your ups and downs and lead you on. Share your story. Keep it real.