Last week’s blog must have left many of you thinking, “She is a ‘basket case’ these days;” I have received more feedback than ever before! Thank you for your concern and mutual understanding of a mid-life mother juggling life. Praise God “He holds all things together!” (Colossians 1:17)
This week both of my daughters were sick so I have had to plant myself at home, and slow down. Therein, lays a grateful reason for illness. We missed our former churches 25th reunion which saddens my heart, but God has a way of trimming our schedules from time to time.
Many of my mental and physical challenges continue – I am still visiting my sports medicine doctor this week, hoping to see some improvement – maybe the pain is suppose to get worse before it gets better? My doctor gave me permission to start walking one mile every other day, alternated with swimming.
Feeling like a bird let out of my cage, I headed out for a walk around the track at the YMCA while my daughter swam. My hip was feeling pretty good, yet still a little tight. What was hard to watch were the runners effortlessly gliding by me! I’d look at them and say to myself with an underlying envy, “I am going to run again someday.” Cautiously ignoring my aches, I slowly moved my way around the track. Eventually I passed an elderly woman, straining to the best of her ability with the support of her walker. God always puts people in my path who are worse off than I am, for a little attitude adjustment. I started to give thanks for my legs, my doctor, and my lessening pain, yielding to the whole healing process.
Then yesterday after I saw my doctor and felt pretty good. I needed to drop by the grocery. I was determined to cram one more item in the brown bag for ease of carrying; the handles broke right as I was walking out, in front of all the checkout lanes, and out tumbled my items – syrup, Jello pudding, and bread …thankfully not any eggs! The lady at the end of the check out where I had to gather my things…gave me quite “the glare.” If looks could speak, I’m sure she thought, “she better get herself together.” Instead of letting it get to me, I just had to laugh and let it go!
For some of our “rest” time, my daughters and I have been roped into watching this season of American Idol. Why is it that so many people enjoy the show? (Although through the years it has gotten more edgy – right along with Hollywood, I guess.) I think there’s a deep seeded hope and happiness that emerges when we see the unlikely given a golden opportunity – to be chosen as likely. We love seeing the unlovely made lovely; the unappealing made appealing, the lost talent – found.
I actually never pondered the message that we love in it, but it clearly represents the message of the gospel. There is a message of hope given to us as we watch those who take risks and are chosen. The difference would be within the gospel – all who are chosen receive honor.
American idol seems to touch our emotions as we watch a variety of people we can relate to. We laugh together at some of the contestants, like the elderly gentleman who sang, “Pants on the floor, pants on the floor” as he innocently poked fun at the youthful baggy-pant generation. We cry together at the stories…like the young boy who wants to make his parents proud by redeeming the mistake that lead to his imprisonment. We are moved to see the courage of a young girl with a damaged nerve in her face that causes her smile to slant – yet as she sang she rose above her insecurities. We see year after year, many are given the opportunity to soar that they otherwise may have never found. We catch a glimpse of a dream dreamed like Susan Boyles, the woman discovered in England who surprised us all – and brought life to the stage.
My husband shared a quotation with me recently by Alfred Adler, “The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.” This thought makes me wrestle with my “mind” issues or my perfect appearances. Why is it such a big deal to look like I, or we have it all together?
Deep down I’m a people pleaser and I don’t want to make mistakes because of my fear of what others might think of me. We want life to flow smoothly and be well planned but…this whole trying to keep it all together…mentally pressured to keep my check list, is to really protect my heart. So, I play it safe. I say less, do less, be less…so my heart is protected from rejection by others.
But as we see on Idol – life and hope is found by taking risks – not by playing it safe. (I am writing this lesson for me. If it blesses you, praise God.) Right now in my life, I can no longer play it safe. My books have gone to print, the money has been paid, and they are about to be cut lose along with who I am.
God always meets me where I am, and this week I read in My Utmost for His Highest – When God is your all in all, everything to you, people (and their thoughts – which we can never truly figure out) are merely shadows behind his presence. When God is Big in my life, the center, the core of who I am, then I am free….It’s okay to drop the groceries in the middle of the floor, it’s okay that we aren’t perfect, not remembering the plates for dinner after every one has already sat down…it’s okay.
Ya know why? It’s okay to be weak, imperfect because the message of the gospel – God’s mercy comes to us with hope. When we are weak, God can be seen stronger! When we fall, he can be seen as our Helper – “Let the beloved (that’s you and me) of the LORD rest secure in him for he shields him all day long. The one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders…” (Deuteronomy 33:12) All throughout scripture we see that God’s ways are not our ways. He turns ashes to beauty, a spirit of despair into a garment of praise. “He will make rivers flow on barren heights, …instead of a thorn bush will grow a pine tree, instead of briers, the myrtle will grow…for the Lord’s renown” (Isaiah 61:3, 41:18, 55:13).
May we get to the end of ourselves, weaned of all our dependencies so that our security rests in God alone. We are learning this personally and as a society – our security is not to be put in other people, in our money, and not in our circumstances.
As I step out with the book, little fears sneak in. I’ve thought often, “What in the world have I done?” I’ve put myself out there…all of me! But you know what God impressed on my heart this morning to battle my fear of falling or of failure? Depending on him may feel stepping out on a zip-line or walking on a tight rope, but there is a safety net and “underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27). There is the only place of rest – a place of acceptance and eternal approval. Our hope is to hear, “You are going on to the next level…”
Where can you risk your heart? Is it speaking with your neighbor and inviting them to church? Is it leading a Bible Study or singing a solo? Is it accepting God’s forgiveness for your mistakes and forgiving yourself? Going on a mission trip to help with relief in Haiti? All God asks is that you take one step at a time…and trust him. “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isa. 59:1).