I should be cleaning my bedroom closet right now. My suitcase is still sitting outside the door, packed with dirty clothes from two weekends ago. There are piles of clean folded clothes that have toppled three or four times just this morning. My shoes, which are normally stored towards the back of the large walk-in closet are piled atop the suitcase. I should me in there right now, putting life back in all its proper places. It’s been a slow and deceptive process. One shirt left out of place once is a small thing. But repeat over time, and you end up with a closet like mine.
Instead of sorting and putting away, I have chosen to lay in bed, with my minimally charged computer. I’d like to say my intention was to sit down and process life by writing a blog post. But, I’d be lying. My goal was to watch last Thursday night’s line-up of tv show dramas that I missed. It’s only because the site has insisted on making me wait a full week to watch any of the latest full episodes that I have resigned to this…writing about life.
I think I hesitate to write due to shame. Yes, my closet is a mess right now, and usually my closet is a reflection of my life. The feelings I have as I look at that mountain of neglect recall to mind the state of our life almost two years ago as we contemplated entering “Family Rehab.” While the circumstances were very different, we were having very similar conversations. “I am just so tired.” “I haven’t seen or played with the kids all week.” “Crap, I forgot to buy more lunchmeat…we have to stop by the store for Lunchables on the way to school.” “I don’t think we can keep up this pace.” “Something has got to change.” “How can I do all of what life is asking of me when I can’t even unpack my bags?” Back when we first found ourselves in this discussion, we ended up making very drastic changes to our circumstances, taking our children out of school for the year and slowing down the rat-race.
However, this go-around, I am less concerned with the possible solutions and more concerned with how we ended up feeling just as fatigued and just as overtasked. We have been in Life After Rehab for less than a year, and ALREADY it seems as though we are questioning everything again. We have relapsed.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).
I have over-committed, over-worried, over-feared, over-worked, over-stretched, and over-looked. God has put us in a place where the tendency to do these things is all too dangerous. Maybe we are too weak for all this. Maybe we are not fit for the challenges that lie ahead.
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?,” (Romans 7:21-24).
I want to have all my crap together. I want to be able to love and serve those around me…not at the expense of my marriage or my children. I want to unpack my bags without guilt or shame. I want to trust Jesus…with this place, with this season, with this family, with me.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
I am ungodly: NOT like God. I am unlike Him, in that I cannot do it all. I cannot clean the closet, bake the birthday cake, fix the brokenhearted, and foster spiritual maturity in 4 young children, all while maintaining the energy of a Super Bowl cheerleader. It is for this reason that He came for me, died for me. My circumstances, even if they dramatically change, don’t change me. I will always be weak. I will always be unfit for the challenges that lie ahead. I will always need Him…His death in my place…His right timing.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (Corinthians 12:9-10).
I want to be content. I want to feel the sufficiency of His grace in the midst of fatigue, doubts, and the big-life-questions about purpose, plans, and calling. I want to “want to”. My entitlement and human interpretation of “justice” fools me into believing my discontent is somehow right and holy, that my circumstances are unfair. So I want to “want to” be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. That list resounds with “unfairness”, yet Paul is content. And this I long for.
A few quotes ring in my ears…because I’ve recently recited them to others. Now they boomerang back and ricochet truth in the echoes of my doubt-filled heart.
“Bloom where you are planted.”
“Distrust of God is a horrible blotch. Discontent exceedingly injures mental and spiritual loveliness.”- Charles Spurgeon
“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” – Elisabeth Elliot
“Idolatry is a slow and deceptive process…I’ll say it again: Idolatry is a slow and deceptive process.”
I have slowly been deceived into discontent. I have been worshipping idols of personal comfort, tidy closets, and somehow believing in a god who has forgotten my desires. That god does not exist.
Here is what is said of my God:
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 86:5 says, “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”
Psalm 33:13-17 says:
“13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.”
He sees me. He knows my desires. He fashioned my own heart. I need not trust in warhorses…my little idols…they know nothing of me. It’s a slow and deceptive process.
I pray that recovery from this relapse, as well as the cleaning of my closet, is not as slow.