I’m at this picturesque coffee house overlooking Lake Austin this afternoon, on the patio. My Honey is driving the Duck (and will probably float by in about an hour, hopefully giving me a quack and a wave!). Our kiddos are either at the gym working out or at their jobs working. We’re all meeting later for dinner at a
new spot called Unity Vegan Kitchen Shady Grove. So, I have about 5 hours on my own. I have my computer, my phone, a few bucks for an iced chai, and a view that is simply lovely.
For the past hour, since we walked out of church, I have been trying to figure out what to do with my time. I had already decided to write, but the leading up to that is a little intimidating, to be really honest. I do this thing where I impose a level of perfection on myself that simply isn’t possible for me and has the exact opposite effect on my writing than I would like it to. My heart is to share my junk, in all of it’s
glory ugliness humanness, with the hope that others don’t feel so alone. I also pray that others will reach out and let me know that I am not alone in my junk. Win-Wins are good stuff.
My life is in a good place right now. I mean there is still SO much brokenness in my life, especially in some of my most intimate relationships, but I believe that this is what is right now and there is nothing for me to do about that at this point except pray and wait in love. So, there is peace (as well as sadness) in that part of my life, but in the other, more functional parts of my life, there is so much good and I’ve waited for such a long time, so I’m a little bit ecstatic, on the regular.
I’m setting aside time with my Father daily – okay, about 6 days a week. It isn’t what I believe it’s supposed to be yet, but that’s okay. It’s a relationship, it develops with time. There is ebb and flow and all the while He and I are creating memories, knowing there is grace, love and an entire array of other ingredients that make our relationship sacred. When I lived in Michigan, I got up and spent time with Him daily for years, but when everything fell apart here, little by little I lost my desire to spend time with Him for so many reasons. I didn’t want to be transparent with anyone, because of the betrayal I had experienced. I felt as if He chose not to protect me and then just watched me wallow in humiliation and brokenness. I doubted His existence on some level. In my anger, there was arrogance.
So many times over those first few years in Texas I would get up early and open my journal or my Bible and feel nothing but empty. There were a few rare occasions when I felt His presence and I’d go on a 2-3 day roll before falling into complacency once again. Each time my hope faded a bit more. Hopelessness is an oppressive enemy.
I began to realize that this struggle reminded me a bit of my struggle with exercise over the years. I’ve never been a big fan of the latest craze kind of exercise, especially when it came with a big price tag attached. I found a long time ago, that once I am emotionally ready, I just have to put one foot in front of the other without a lot of thought. If I consider things too much, I will talk myself out of exercise in a New York minute. So, about a year and a half ago, I started setting my alarm for 5:20 and walking out to my chair in the corner of our living room and spending time with my Father. It was not especially pleasant at first, but it began to feel familiar after a couple of weeks, and that was enough to make me continue getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button for the next few weeks. It was probably almost a month before I felt like I was connecting with Him and His Word again. There are times when I don’t follow through – like the first
couple of weeks month of school because I’m absolutely exhausted, so I extend myself grace and choose to feel grateful that I managed to wake up early 1 or 2 days that week. Because I don’t beat myself up, the guilt-monster doesn’t get the best of me, so getting back into my routine happens because I look forward to my special time with Him instead of because I feel guilty for not doing what I’m “supposed” to do. The great part about that is that the barrier of guilt is not there, I will keep on keepin’ on because I want to and He really only wants me in relationship with Him because I want to be there, not because of that other junk!
Last summer it dawned on me that I needed to again apply this to daily exercise. So, I started, but doing both in the morning before my 7:15 a.m. report to work time, was not going well. I considered doing one or the other in the evening, but I was just TOO EXHAUSTED for this kind of commitment once I got home from 9 hours of mostly 6 year olds needing my constant attention. Back to putting one foot in front of the other without a bunch of thought. Now I set my alarm for 4:20 a.m. most mornings. I learned that if I do my workout first, I somehow don’t have time for Him and that’s my priority. So, I spend time with Him, do my yoga practice and then
jump step on the treadmill while watching something awesome, like Bethel music on youtube.
I haven’t lost a ton of weight – and let me tell ya, I would love to, but I feel better every day. I take my supplements, I eat pretty clean and I’m taking care of my physical heart. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I’ve decided that instead of beating myself up and getting stuck in the should’ve’s, I’m going to rejoice in the now and the ripple effects all of that will have on my later.
During this desert time in my life, I believed in God, but I didn’t follow Him. I’ve felt a bunch of shame during the last few years because I wasn’t the example I used to be for my teenage children who are now young 20-somethings. We weren’t serving at church, we weren’t including Him in most of our decisions, and my root of bitterness felt as if it increased exponentially at times. But, here is what I did right: I kept taking my family to church. I kept trying to spend time with Him. I kept looking for a small group or a way to connect with other believers. I kept trying to be in relationship with Him. When I was lost and almost void of hope, I kept on putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes obedience is the best we can do, and my life is proof that He honors that – my mustard seed of faith and my watering can of obedience were enough.
It took years before I found Him again. He was there all the time. My heart just wasn’t ready, yet. I gave up a time or two, but He waited for me to be ready to try again. I’m sure I frustrated Him now and again, but still He loves me without condition and He did the whole time I was a broken child.
My desert time was almost 7 years long. I often thought I would never feel the joy and fullness that comes with living for Him and knowing Him intimately, again. I couldn’t fathom being grateful for those dark and empty years. But I am. I don’t understand the why of it all and I may not ever. I just know that I am happier than I have been in what seems like forever and it has lasted a long time. I understand that I am blessed with a season of joy right now and that there will be more seasons of “not joy” in my life. I am proof that He is faithful and sure that I am His.
I know there are others walking through the desert right now and as much as I wish I could take their hands and walk them out to the beach or a lush, green field ripening with peace and joy, I know that all I can do is send some hope into their journey and assure them that He is walking beside each of them, grieving with them and loving them endlessly, no matter what comes.