Sunday, December 31, 2017

Safe vs. Good

I am sitting in church this morning, thinking about a million different things. In the midst of all the thoughts, something broke inside of me. Something that needed to break. 2017 was probably the busiest year for me. I can't remember when the last time was that I felt so busy. And I'm not just talking about work or things I had to do.

My heart has felt busy. 

Distracted. 

Distant. 

As I reflect on the events of 2017, I realize that it is the first time since 2012 that I've allowed my heart to wander.  Not to another person, but to, really, anything but God.  

He's there. But I've not been seeking him. 

I've been feeling this tugging for several months now. Something telling me I'm not in the right place spiritually. I'm in no way where I was 6 years ago when I was still trying to run from God.
But I'm also not where I was 5 years ago, when my heart was tender and I was always running to the feet of Jesus. Little by little, as it always happens, we allow life to get in the way. 

It was a difficult year for me, personally and professionally.

My neck pain, three years after a successful second fusion, came back in full force around May.  I have gone through physical therapy again, doctor visits, injections that didn't work, a new MRI, being told there was nothing surgically that will help my pain, regardless of the new deterioration in my spine.  I went from finally feeling like I could function at 80% back down to maybe 20%, if I'm being generous.

Work demands were at an all time high this year for me, and I felt like I was playing catch up most of the time.  Work has just been tough also, in the sense that we just don't know what the future holds for our company.  It isn't dire, but it isn't where we want it to be either.  I've had new employees come on my team (which has overall been a good thing) but it always comes with it's own struggles, I've had to terminate others (which was the worst experience), and I've had more actual work most days than I knew what to do with. 

The pain and work alone have created this distance between me and my heart, which in turn brings distance between me and God, but we've also had changes in our immediate family. Nothing really traumatic. But the kids are getting older. As a mother I've struggled emotionally.  I've had a lot of anxiety and have had to trust a lot more as my son started driving himself everywhere, my oldest has begun registering for her senior classes next year, my baby is in middle school, my son started a new job, and all the girls have been heavily involved in theater and choir.

It's a lot. Most days, I give as much as I can at work and there's really nothing left for anyone else. It's a sad state to find myself in as a wife and mother.  For someone who always just wanted to be a wife and a mother, it's hard not to feel like a failure.

This is the first time since 2012 that I've felt my own heart distance itself from Kris. Not because we are having problems, because we're not. We are both just busy and I've become swept up in it. I've felt it happening, and felt powerless to change it.

So as I sit here during worship, I find my mind cycling through all of these thoughts.  My heart is stirred to think on these things and acknowledge where I really am. I haven't allowed myself to think on how my priorities have shifted because I haven't wanted to truly see my faults.

It isn't easy, admitting to myself how I've allowed my heart to stray.  If I stop to think about it, I'll have to actually slow down and accept that I'm not where I want to be.  And if I slow down, I have fears and worries that make themselves known. So I stay busy. Partly because it distracts me from the physical pain I'm in, but mostly because I don't want things to spin out of control.

It's a catch 22. 

Because I know with certainty that my attitude is not right. 

And when I really stop and reflect, the truth is I have no control. 

Over any of it. 

I can't force the fears and insecurities away just because I ignore them.  I know from past experience the only way to deal with them in a healthy way is to confront them head on and then promptly surrender them.

If I had to choose just one word that I've run from in 2017 it would be surrender. 

Surrender requires that you slow down. 

Face your fears.

Your inadequacies.

Your true self. 



Surrender is hard. Our human nature fights against it.  And we often try to protect ourselves from the hard things in life.  It's okay for a while. By that I mean ignoring it gets you by for a while.

But it isn't the right way to live. It isn't what brings peace. Peace is something I have to fight for on a daily basis and I've strayed so far now that it feels a bit overwhelming to get back there. But my heart is crying out for peace.  I feel God in me, a physical presence as much as it is spiritual, whispering to my heart. Assuring me that I can surrender. That if I surrender, it will be good, not bad.

God has never failed me. He has never turned his back on me or decided he was done with me. He never will. It might not be easy, but it will always be worth it.  It reminds me once again of one of my favorites scenes from Narnia:

Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.
-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

No, he isn't safe. Trusting him with all my fear and pain and failures is scary. And it isn't safe, because being vulnerable is never safe. But God is good. It isn't just some cliche saying. He is truly good. What he can do in and through me is good.  And that good is so much better than how I'm living now.

A line from one of the songs this morning really spoke to me.  It is what finally broke me down and led me to writing this right now, so that I don't put it off any longer.  The song is called Spirit of the Living God, by Meredith Andrews.

We're leaning in to all you are
Everything else can wait

Everything else can wait. 

This is more important. 

It's the only thing worth living and fighting for and it's everything. 

He changes everything.