Almost four weeks in and I thought I would see how you are doing.
In the beginning, things shifted so fast and the response was like a threat of a hurricane or a possible power outage because of a winter advisory; this was our crisis context and everyone stocked up on food and essentials 🙂 Four weeks later, we have had to replenish our pantries and we have a better idea of this new normal. Maybe for many of you, life hasn’t become too uncomfortable. I have heard of new gardens being planted and home projects rising to the top of the list. However, I also know of many who are leaving their family’s serving others so courageously while their significant others are braving the homefront. Well done and many prayers for you.
Maybe, like me, you might be resting and recovering from a long, over-extended, several seasons long of over-stimulated, worry-filled hustle from one urgent need to another. Those are too many words to say –I was done. I had zero bandwidth to handle many of life’s basic decisions. I felt like everything was spiraling out of control.
I think it is wise to stop and really consider how you are, and also those around you. Maybe you are busying yourselves to distract from the present reality or avoiding the reality all together trying to maintain sanity. Think about how quickly you might have drifted into autopilot or old habits. Someone asked me how we were doing and I responded that it felt like summer. My early intentions of order and reclaiming my children quickly shifted into summer routines of late nights and later mornings. My familiar.
I, like so many of you, want to steward this time carefully, I want to emerge from the house, a better person, more devoted to God, my family, and my neighbor. Devoted in the ways that actually matter. I want my children to be better people, more devoted to God, their families, and their neighbors. Devoted in the ways that actually matter. Yet, where do we begin? How do we cultivate something new that will yield something different and lovely?
Earlier this week, I was reading scripture and praying. I was reflecting on the Holiness of God. In the quietness of my own heart, I was seeking God and asking Him for many things, “be Holy, as I am Holy” was this topic of my devotional. I reluctantly offered a soft question to the Lord, “is my marriage holy? Is the relationship with each of my children holy?” I could not go any further. I asked the Lord to make me willing to hear His answer. To engage in the hard work of purification feels like a “do better” assignment. I am tired, I want to rest and wait for this pandemic to end. I want to busy myself in organizing my house or getting my boys on a schedule of chores and more discipline. I want to skirt this issue and put it off to another day.
The next morning, as I was reading and praying again, I was reminded (and maybe avoiding the Lord about holiness) that He is made perfect in my weakness. I was encouraged in my own insufficiencies, that this is the environment/context for the Lord to do His greatest work. Most likely, the reason why it seems this topic of holiness is so hard is that it is so important. These relationships matter the most to me on this earth. They scare me the most. I have dreams for them, expectations for them. I have sought God the hardest for them. I have shed the most tears. They are my weakest spot. It feels hard because it is hard. They reveal so much about me and my relationship with God.
So imagine how encouraged I was as I connected my previous day of asking, rather gently, for the Lord to show me where I needed to pursue holiness in my relationships. It is easy to sing about the holiness of God but it is another thing entirely to consider my own holiness. My natural response is shame or condemnation because so often I do not measure up. However, to know that it is not me trying to do better but rather me letting Him have control, to yield to Him, “not my will but thy will be done.” These may be the hardest words to come out of my mouth.
How is it with you? Honestly? Having everyone under the same roof, while it is wonderful, it is also the perfect environment to really see how we are handling each other. It shines a light on the true condition of our own hearts. Are we lazy, hiding, afraid, bitter, worried, tired, ignoring, or undisciplined? Are we kind, loving, gentle, patient, joyful, peaceful, and practicing self-control?
It is hard to re-engage our people into meaningful conversations. I remember Chad telling me to work on asking the right questions when I was complaining to him about getting our teenagers to talk and open up. So I googled it. Anyway, being intentional with your people is crucial in that you are not doing this to satisfy some need you have for connection or emotional validity. Rather, this is about softening their hearts that they may hear God when He speaks to them, connecting the dots of God’s provision or activity in their lives. Maybe, most importantly, helping them to see God’s nudge of faithfulness and love for them, maybe you need to be reminded, too. It is also important to pay attention to the people in their lives so you know how to pray. Do you pray for their friends? Their co-workers? Important opportunities?
During this holy week, as we remember and lift high Christ and all He has done for us, be willing to look upon His gaze and take courage to consider your own heart. Would you softly ask the Lord as David did, in Psalms 139:23, to search me and try me and see where there is any unclean thing within me and then ask as he did in Psalms 51 to create in me a clean heart and to renew a steadfast spirit within me and to restore to me the joy of Your salvation?
It is hard to consider, but the longing or emptiness in our hearts will not be alleviated with the return of our work and freedoms. The emptiness will only be filled with yielding to the Lord and letting His strength prove Himself faithful in the scared, fearful, controlling places of our hearts. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Roman 12:2). He has certainly helped us with the first part by pushing pause on the world as we know it and now for us to allow Him to do the second part of transformation. Let us do this together and come out on the other side more devoted to our God and to our families and to our neighbors, and I would bet, we will be more fulfilled and effective with God’s plan and purpose in our homes and communities.
Our relationships will be stronger. The fight will be worth it.