Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Saving to the full, whole life

When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful —- that even hurt — this is a gift.
We are being given a gift.
These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God — in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.” - Ann Voskamp

I needed that reminder today. It's starting to get to me - the stress and anxiety of this season. Our schedule alone is enough to send us over the edge.  I fought this kind of schedule for years. I used to be a super mom junky. I desperately wanted to be this amazing multi-tasking, on-top-of everything, crafty, cute, super mom. I had a very hard time realizing that I in fact am not that. I failed time and again and made so many broken promises and dropped the ball so many times. Not usually with the important things, but any lack of follow through meant failure to me. So, to be back in this spot of trying to make home cooked meals when we are busy 4 out of the 7 evenings of the week and 5 out of the 7 days of the week and building traditions with my boys and teaching them all that I want to teach them, feels like relapse. I don't want to be in this fast-paced life. I am literally counting down the days until some of these commitments will be over.

 And that very much ripples into the rest of my anxiety. Time. It is really quite cruel. I look at my first baby and he is 10 going on 16. There are far too many moments when he sasses back and isn't always the best role model for his brothers. But then there are the moments when I listen to him and am amazed at how he processes this life and when I watch him and my heart swells with pride at how loving he can be. I don't know where ages 5-10 went. Sure, I remember moments and look back on pictures, but it's not etched into my heart like those early years were. And I can't press pause or rewind to try to catch up on what I've missed. And now, we are very much considering putting him into school. There are so many pros to putting him into the school that we are looking at. The school itself is absolutely amazing. It embraces the same educational philosophy that we use in our homeschooling, but without the distractions that come from 2 little brothers. Plus, we wouldn't spend so much time arguing during the day. But then I think of my life long enemy - time.  I want to have as many moments as I can before the next 5 years fly by. I don't want our days to go from school to homework to sports or errands to dinner to bed. I want to go on field trips and watch him play with his brothers and discuss Patrick Henry and WWI and II. I want to take him to nursing homes and bake with him and fix his lunch and teach him how to clean the dishes and fold his clothes and share with his brothers. I don't want to let go of the time because it has a hold of my babies and is merciless. 

And then we are on the road to adopt. The unknowns are consuming me. How is schooling going to work with a new child and a preK child being homeschooled and a child in private school? How old will our child be? How do we need to change our house? Will we get a girl or boy? Will we get siblings? Will we find someone here or will God lead us to do international adoption? How will all these changes affect all my children? And all of this is stressing me out. I know, it's not like the how do I feed my child or what if I don't survive this car crash kind of stress. I shouldn't complain because in the scheme of things, there are much more stressful situations.  But it's still there getting under my skin, affecting my patience and peace. So daily I have to choose to get consumed in the questions and the decisions and the uncertainties or draw into God so that I can intimately know Him. And really, I need to acknowledge that all these questions really point to one bigger question: Do I trust God? 

I was thinking about all of this and was about to make a mental list about what I should focus on. I first asked myself ,"What are the things of eternity?" I didn't answer the question because my mind immediately went off on a tangent. I then thought that that question is my thing; my catch phrase. It's been this new lens with which to see the world. That led to thinking about how gratitude is Ann Voskamp's thing. She blogs about that all the time. I then started thinking that my catch phrase was more in line with truth. (Please note - this is where I started, not ended. Please also note, I know how incredibly prideful that thought is and am working on that character trait.) My thought process went something like: if you look at what is of eternity and what isn't then you can know what to kind of discard. It's a great coping mechanism for stress plus it points you to the things of Christ. It helps me to "set my mind on things above, not on earthly things." But then I started thinking about how that sounds like some self-help exercise. Or maybe it felt more like it. See, I am perfectly capable of mentally and emotionally categorizing stress. It's always been easy for me to decide to emotionally discard something and move on - with or without God's help. And the result is there are areas where I am just indifferent. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does not help me to intimately know God. My mind then went back to Ann Voskamp's thing: gratitude. I started thinking about how a grateful heart gives joy, not indifference. It gives hope. I went back to her book, One Thousand Gifts, and found this:

"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan" (Luke 1:15-16 NIV). Yes, thankfulness, I know. Next verse. "Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?' Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'" (Luke 17:17-19 NIV)
Wait. I trace back. Hadn't Jesus already completely healed him? . . . I slow down and dig. I read Jesus' words in Young's Literal Translation, "And [Jesus] said to him, 'Having risen, be going on, thy faith has saved thee.;" Saved thee? I dig deeper. It's sozo in the Greek. . . Sozo means salvation. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. . . And when did the leper receive sozo - the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks. . . 
I would never experience the fullness of my salvation until I expressed the fullness of my thanks every day, and eucharisteo is elemental to living the saved life. 

I hope I'm not infringing on copyright laws by quoting that much. But do you see it? Yes, I need to "set my mind on things above, not on earthly things." But I need to first filter everything through the lens of thanksgiving. Even the earthly things, the hard things, the unknown things are gifts from God. Time, this life, these experiences, these lessons, all of it is a reflection of God's grace. He graciously created us. He graciously saved sinful humanity time and time again. He graciously worked out a plan to redeem humanity. He graciously created me and you and my children and my future adoptive children. He graciously reveals His glory to all of creation - and he uses you and me to do that. And sometimes that is hard. And sometimes He uses the temporal earthly things to accomplish His purposes. So, when I thank God for it all - the stress, the anxiety, the uncertainties, the heartaches - I am given full life. I am given salvation here on earth that extends into eternity. And that is where I need to set my mind. Time is no match for my God who uses it and manipulates it to heal and to draw His children to Him. So, when I look at these stressful moments through my lens of thanksgiving, then I find that I have a God who is trustworthy. I find that time is irrelevant. I find that all the unknowns still are what they are regardless of my finite knowledge. And that gives a much deeper peace than simply discarding the hard. 

I am behind on my Joy Dare, but here are some things that I am so thankful for:
A weekend filled with soccer and blue skies and sweet boys.
My sweet friend coming home from the hospital. 
Praying children.

A husband and sons who start my Valentine's day off just right.

Time to write again.
An enlightening adoption class