Missed the first two parts? Grab I and II here.
When my husband and I were dating, he had this (irritating!) habit of asking what I wanted. Example:
Him: Where do you want to go out for dinner?
Me: I don’t care. [I really didn’t!] You pick.
Him, pulling over into a parking lot: No problem. We can just sit here until you know what you want.
See what I mean? Good grief.
Truth: I’m not great at knowing what I want. At least, not since high school. Before high school I knew what I wanted. But that’s when—due to some unhealthy insecurity and a mildly healthy desire to serve and surrender to what God wanted—I uncovered a great delight in pleasing. (My husband maintains that I can please with the best of them, but that lurking underneath is still a strong will to be reckoned with. He even goes so far to suggest that this strong will is attractive to him. I mean, can you trust this guy? Really?)
This has been gut-wrenching lately because when it comes to staying in Africa or moving back to the U.S., I actually did want something very much. I wanted to stay. And after giving up a lot of the things that don’t matter to me, it has at times felt almost a betrayal that God might ask me to give up one of the things that does.
For those of you who’ve been married: Do you remember what “just married” felt like? After the sound of the tin cans clanking behind the car faded, after you set your bags down in your together home after the honeymoon—what was it like?
Reality: No matter how much training you’ve had, one flesh takes a lotta work. My sin settled in our little 500-square-foot apartment right alongside our stacks of wedding gifts. And when my sin collided head-on with his? Well, let’s just say sometimes I wished our duplex walls were a little thicker.
Why does it seem like everyone else my age is promoted, and I’m stuck in Gruntwork Land?
I should be married by now.
I am so. Tired. Of the little kid season. Why did I quit my job?
He started at the same time as I did. How did he get so much further ahead?
Who goes back to school at my age?
I had no idea w hat I gave up when I got married.
What was I thinking?
Everyone else has a baby.
Why in the world did I major in that? I jeopardized my entire career.
Ever feel like your season of life seems…off?
Do you remember the moment that first made you wonder if He truly loved you?
I don’t know if I remember the first one. But I remember the first big one, and I can trace the crooked, faltering lines of the rest of them through my past. (Fear has its way of searing itself upon the conscience.)
For me, unbelief usually blossoms as fear; as worry. My unbelief stems directly, stealthily, from its taproot in my heart. He loves me? He loves me not?
Perhaps I should ask you what it is always good to ask myself: This year—or, just today—what makes you afraid?
On many of the Wednesdays of 2017, I’ll be helping my friend Barbara Rainey, on everthinehome.com, explore what she calls “prayer lessons”: ideas to pray for ourselves, our most critical relationships, our communities. Today’s post begs God to fill us with belief, to root us—always first and immovably–in His love.
I hope it encourages you today, wherever this finds you.
Has God ever given you what you asked for—and then you wonder if you asked for the right thing in the first place? Have you ever felt punished…by prayer?
Last Sunday afternoon, while on his bicycle, my eleven-year-old was hit by a motorcycle.
While he was applying his brakes, sliding on rust-colored mud into the intersection, I was at home, deciding I would take a Sunday nap. I’d barely closed my eyes when one of my children called my name. This happens quite frequently, as one might imagine, and my husband has lightly chided me on contributing to our children’s entitlement with my jumpiness to their needs. So I waited to see if they’d come get me. I don’t remember what finally tipped me off that this was not the typical, “She won’t share the biiiike!”
I didn’t expect the stranger at the gate, or my weeping son, clutching his shoulder, a small tear in the new shirt his grandma had brought over from the U.S. The sight of his mangled front tire unsettled me; somehow torqued metal seems to accentuate the gravity of an accident, alluding that our limping bodies don’t tell the whole story.
We weren’t clearly “called” to Africa. That I know of.
Maybe God will correct my thinking in the future. But there my husband and I were in Little Rock, with four little kids (youngest two and a half), contemplating whether or not to, you know, sell 70% of our stuff and wheel our bags to a continent I was sure was just buzzing with malaria and typhoid. I say that—but honestly, I was thrilled. Africa is a dream come true, one I’d put on the shelf in the “maybe God will explain why” category of my mental Dewey decimal system. And as we discussed it, I don’t think I’ll forget what my husband said one night.
This week, my parents are arrived in Africa! Though this is their third trip since we’ve lived here, it’s still fraught with so much giddiness and anticipation. Rather than living life together as we hoped, our time together seems scrunched into the few weeks every 18 months or so where we live in the same place, same continent.
I’m crazy-blessed with wise, gracious, sold-out parents who pour their lives out for Jesus. But I’m sure it mystifies them, as it does me, that their success as parents means their dreams of closeness to their kids are stacked together with their hopes for eternity. I wrote this post for everthinehome.com awhile back, and it is gratefully used with permission.
It was past eleven this past Monday evening; my children’s fingers curled limply around the edges of their mattresses, and my husband contentedly read in our bedroom.
But my legs were crossed Indian-style on our thinning rug in the living room, the glow of a screen reflecting on my face: time to talk with my Mom, overseas in America. My four sisters and I are flung onto four separate continents around the earth’s axis.
I’ve written before about this whole idea of our opportunities versus whether we’re actually called to do something. Oh—and about the true cost of my overcommitment.
And I’m happy to report that I have proudly mastered these concepts in full. And it seems I’ve still got a looooong. Long. Way. To go.
Long story short, this weekend found me sitting for 2.5 hours in the car with three kids—which is exactly as fun as it sounds—because of something to which I overcommitted in the first place. Before I left, I’d had to say no to seeing a friend for the last time before she left for two months; had to say no to a peaceful holiday with my family, despite my worn soul, due to my lack of foresight.
The funny thing, as I reflected in my consternation and yes, tears, is that I didn’t even think about saying no.
I’m amazed at how many Westerners respond to the question, “How’s life?” with, “Busy!” And I’ve gotta loop myself in there. Our spirituality ups the ante of our “opportunities”: Who wants to say no to something God might be putting in our paths?