Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Life Dismantled, Life Content

"LOL I'd love to," I texted her. "How about when I am done doing all the other things I am supposed to be doing to make my life better? If I add one more healthy practice to my life I may quite literally fall apart."

My Sister-Friend had a great idea to do a healthy regimen together that would hopefully help us feel better with our kaleidoscope of illnesses. A great idea, really. And if I didn't feel like I was a Lego mom carrying various and sundry tasks all designed to improve the quality of the lives around me, maybe I would have been up for it. But one more thing to remember, and my head could pop right off my plastic shoulders. One more thing to carry and I'd be the Venus de Milo of motherhood.

I'd like to blame it on New Year's optimism- this draw toward anything that will make us feel successful and satisfied. Maybe this year I will follow through on my Bible reading/diet/exercise/ business/schooling/etc... and then I will be happy. But I have known that feeling at other random times as well, and this journey I am on can feel like wandering in circles around the desert wilderness. I just can't quite make it to the promised land.

So maybe you have felt this way, too. Like you know you should be satisfied, but it's just beyond your fingertips. And that maybe when you accomplish this, you can take a break and be content.

Here's the thing: it's not going to happen. Not for any meaningful length of time at least. Not with that perspective.

That aching we have to be enough- that is a God-shaped, God-shaping chasm in our lives that He daily and persistently fills. And He doesn't need us shoveling whatever self-help tricks and tips the world gives us into the place only He should occupy.

If you want to believe you can achieve great things because you are awesome- go for it. You are awesome and gifted. Many impressive things have been accomplished that way. Mega-businesses, mind-boggling inventions, huge political platforms have been built on this mentality. And they have done some good along the way.

But if you want your life to contribute to something that will last long after this world perishes; if you want it to have a purpose beyond the paycheck, then Jesus gives us one answer: Take up your cross and follow Him.

God is not in the business of making us a better version of who we think we should be. Like we have any clue who we should be. Dear God, thank you for not fulfilling my 16-year-old-self's vision of who I thought I should be.

He is in the business of resurrecting a child dead in their trespasses.

When I feel like God is dismantling my life, I have to bow to the One who I know is acting in love toward me. Because God never acts outside His love for us. Ne-ver. And if He is demolishing what I keep trying to rebuild, then I need to just sit down and let Him do His work because He is working from different (and infinitely better) blueprints.

God's plans may not contain what we determine to be glamorous in the moment, but that doesn't mean He isn't working out something beautiful and amazing and one-of-a-kind.

So if you have to mop floors? Go get it.
You have to wipe poopy butts? You rock it.
You have to pay bills? Own it.
You have to put yourself out there? You got this.
You have to be nice to people who cause naughty words to come to mind? Smile like a boss.

Whatever you do- "work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (Col. 3:23) It is unbelievable how much more satisfying life is when we remember who God is instead of trying to invent who we are. And when we try new endeavors from the starting point of confidence in Christ rather than ourselves? That's where progress is celebrated and setbacks are just that, setbacks; not foundation-shaking catastrophes.

We can try new things. We can learn and grow and take risks in the security that God is with us and equipping us for work that is beyond all we can imagine. We can be satisfied even as we struggle.

In a world that thrives on people's lack of satisfaction, cultivates it even, we have the promise that contentment can happen here because our God gives it abundantly. We can stop clasping our hands around our things and our plans, and open them to receive His gifts. He has given us His Son. He knows the desires of our hearts. He is with us. Isn't that the best starting point for anything we try to do?

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matt 5:6)

That is my 2017 prayer for us. May we seek God's righteousness first and be blessed with the satisfaction that looks at the good, bad, stinky, annoying, frustrating, feeble, failing, ugly, beautiful around us and says, "I have learned in whatever situation I'm in to be content." (Phil 4:11)

With love.

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