Last night I went to bed ticked off (and if I wanted to risk spoiling my Baptist, patent-leather image, I’d say pissed, but I won’t). I threw things (a pillow, but still.) I stomped on our house plans (mature). I cussed. And, I even asked my husband to “pray with me” knowing that I could say things to God about life and about said husband that might provoke an argument if they’d just been said straight up. Sort of like letting your husband listen to you rant to your best friend, but knowing he has too much propriety to stop you mid-rant and set you straight. That, too, was super-mature.
There was the normal stuff – you know. The washing machine broke. “Hey, honey! What’s that sound? Sounds like a the shower is on in the laundry room.” The kids need money. Like $339 for Cross Country Camp. $25 for the team Lacrosse gift. Water shoes for the Scouts outing this weekend. Even the dog – $48 for a grooming. (My hair should be so lucky.)
There was the deep stuff. Living in the reality that many friends and people close to me are either pregnant or having children. I am (truly) happy for them. But, that baby thing is the biggest button on the tenderest hot spot in my marriage. Us – no babies. Lots of reasons, but it’s a hot one. I’m picturing Christmas-future. My stepchildren off with their mother (because two kids make a family, right?) My son off with his half siblings (sharing DNA creates a sure bet for family Yuletide commitments.) Me and Doug with our stockings and coffee. Silent night – great. Silent Christmas morning – enough to make me want to adopt three babies right now. (I do realize that this is selfish projecting I’m doing here, but I am setting the stage, so allow the indulgence, please.)
There was the Clarkston related stuff, too. I’m up to here (picture top of red head) with open scenarios that have a lot of moving parts and no clear resolution. The UNKNOWN. Makes me feel deep empathy for those poor, brave covered wagon women who had the one pot clanging from the rope at the ceiling as they anticipated…well…just anticipated. Sometimes it is hard to fill in the blanks, and the vast unknown creates a hole that feels filled with fear. Worse when the fear is punctuated by the incessant clanging of the ordinary.
We got our house plans yesterday, for the umpteenth time. I’ve been mentally working since late September on variations of living scenarios. For about three months, this process was fun. I became an avid Pinterest pinner of beautiful rooms. I became a novice architect. I forwarded house plans to friends and family with abandon. “Do you like this kitchen?” “Do the boys need separate vanity areas?” Now, though, the process of landing on a “just enough, but not too much” plan feels symbolic of the BIG lesson that I’m apparently not done learning. It’s the lesson of the circus.
This morning, my longsuffering husband gave me a hug rather than a smack, and I answered him with a torrent of words. (Best C.S. Lewis marriage quote is from Screwtape, “Make full use of the fact that up to a certain point, fatigue makes women talk more and men talk less. Much secret resentment, even between lovers, can be raised from this.”) The man was fatigued. I was, too, and so the words flowed. He answered my torrent with a fantastic analogy. He said he feels like we’re moving out toward a calling from God, but that we’re pulling a full compliment of Ringling Bros. behind us. So many heavy train cars. Big elephants. Tall giraffes. Hyper monkeys (picture my dancing $48 priss-pot Havanese designer-dog). A heavy, fat tent. We’re in the circus and travelling heavy. Doug said he wished, “that we could be nimble – able to let that line of train cars go and pump off into the sunset on a diverging track on one of those hand operated track thingies.” (see photo, I don’t know the name.)
This was my husband's idea of freedom this morning!
True. The house question is simply symbolic of the deeper questions…needs vs. wants…faith vs. action…simplicity vs. abundance…kids needs vs. kids wants…margin vs. passionate activity. How many train cars do we have? Oh, so many.
But, this morning, the message for me in my quiet time with God (who was, miraculously, still graciously listening after I pulled that marriage-related passive aggressive prayer stunt last night) had to do with a verse in Psalm 65. “Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple.” (v. 4) It was a bit of, “Hey, Karen – my house, MY house. That’s where you live – all the time – no matter what’s going on with YOUR house. That’s the place to be. Dwell, dear daughter. Be satisfied. It is good to dwell with Me.”
This morning, Doug and I both needed to be reminded that God’s not really relying on us for anything. The vision He gave us of being ambassadors for the cause of loving the stranger is His vision. It’s His purpose (from, like, Pentatuch time) and He will accomplish it. The journey of shedding the cars and following more nimbly is the journey He wants to work in us. Perhaps we’ll open our embassy-home (house plan number 234) to fellow sojourners and tell them how HARD it was and how FAITHFUL He was. It’s really hard for a “rich” man to enter the Kingdom. All those train cars distract and pull and even stink. Jesus’ eye of the needle comment to His disciples after that sorrowful young man walked away was compassionate and full of truth.
As I’ve prayed gospel prayers over the last several weeks, He keeps showing me that the essence of followership is trust. Everyone in the gospels who was touched with miracles, provision, insight, truth, and passion for Christ TRUSTED Him. They believed Him. My mini-fit over the panic of not knowing and losing control of my tidy little (big) life (string of train cars) needs to be answered with the soothing sounds of His grace. Trust me. Dwell here. My house is your house. I will cause you to approach, dwell, trust, and be satisfied. I’m in charge – even of the disposition of the circus.
Believe, daughter. Simply believe.