This morning I tossed a medium-size kitchen rug into the washer, and I fully expected my Maytag Dependable Care, Quiet Plus, Heavy Duty, 3 Speed Select, Super Capacity, 14 Cycle machine to let that rug have it. A short time later I went back in to discover the washer turned cattywampus (how much do you love that word?) and about four feet out of place – in the middle of the blasted room. By all appearances, roles had been reversed and the rug had done a number on the machine.
Does your life ever seem like that? You should be runnin’ it, but somehow it is runnin’ you. Did I just hear a “Yeees!” through my screen? Well, that has been my experience of late – for about the past month (yes, it does seem to have coincided with the start of the school year, go figure…). I have been feeling like a wilted two-day old balloon; you know the kind that just barely hovers above the floor. And there has been a pin hole in my balloon with pressure being applied to both sides to squeeze out all of the remaining air. Do you know that feeling?
So I sat down in a moment of solitude and listed what I perceived to be the pressures depleting my balloon: the need for other people’s approval – the need for certain people to like me; guilt and regret associated with my grandmother’s death; the needs of my children and my husband; frustration with myself over poor choices regarding food, time management, discipline of my girls; and just the mountain of To Dos that are ever swarming in my head.
Somehow I felt immediately less burdened when I put my pen down. I crawled in the bed (yes, at 9:30 am – my girls were at school) and peacefully rested for an hour. When I awoke, I lay there – very still and snug – and treasured silence. The verse that I had encountered twice in the past two days gently broke the surface of my stillness to say, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). And it was at that point that I got it.
I had been praying and reading Scripture every morning, but – I came to realize – they were selfish prayers of request – with little to no praise or confession and no silence for listening. The static of self absorption, sin, and busyness was blocking our communication.
I came face to face (again) with the reality of impossibility. I cannot be all I want to be nor can I do all I want to do. I cannot be super mom, writer extraordinaire, merry maid, household manager, super-healthy woman, selfless wife, blah, blah, blah… Because I am a finite being bound by space and time. But I serve One who is not. He is infinite and limitless.
Apart from Him, I can do nothing.
I was trying to give and serve, live and do out of my own emptiness.
In Him, I find love, grace, peace, and mercy and FROM HIM I can give love, grace, peace, and mercy. I can give out of His abundance, not out of my own poverty.
And that’s really a great place to be. I can know joy here, and I can know peace here. There is a whole bunch of freedom to be found in accepting the impossibility of my own desires. I still cannot do everything and be everything that I want to be. BUT I can be and do everything He wants me to. And I can know that He will perfectly equip me for His purposes.
Unfortunately, I do tend to allow my own expectations and desires to leave me cattywampus every now and then, and we have to readjust the load just like I need to go do right now to my own washer. Oh dear, I forgot all about that…