It's Saturday night. I'm sitting in my van, in the parking lot, about to go into the grocery store. It's 8pm. I'd hoped to go earlier in the day but my allergies are terrible and the allergy pills that gave me great relief from the itching and wheezing knocked me out for several hours midday.
I've been feeling irritable, anxious, out-of-sorts today. The kids are so busy and bickering with one another. Thoughts of leaving school in less than a month fill me with sadness though not regret. I know this is right but I know it's going to be a hard adjustment and I fear the impending loneliness and separation from my community.
I feel I've been called to a time of hidden-ness, of deliberately stepping away from the busy-ness of the outside world and to focus my efforts and my love and my work on my family. I know this means days could easily pass without me seeing a single person who doesn't share my last name.
Notice me! See me! Don't we all want to know we matter to someone? That someone out there cherishes me - you - us? That your life matters? That you are known, are loved, are going to be remembered. We want to be eternal. I think we have that hunger because that's what we were made for. He made us to love us and for us to love Him and enjoy Him and abide in Him forever. We are made for connection; designed for intimately deep heart-stretching relationship. We are made by Love to be love to one another.
My biggest struggle with temptation always revolves around my desire for affection, connection, encouragement, depth. Those are good things.
But it's the temptation to take short cuts that is the problem: to want to spend my time only with people who like me and who see the world as I see it; not wanting to put in the time to build up and heal the broken, difficult relationships that I am called to attend to. The temptation to wallow in feeling frustrated and sorry for myself when those desires just are not met. That sense of entitlement to such affection, interest, appreciation. I want quick and easy answers to my deepest fear of being forgotten, left behind, unwanted.
It's the selfishness of seeking to receive that which I ought to be solely concerned with giving instead. 'Cause when you can focus on that, then you are free, then you have love. Instead, I look for short cuts, for self-selected metrics to measure my worth and keep my insecurities at bay. The plan sounds brilliant but it only fuels obsession and anxiety...because I'm looking in the wrong direction.
I know I need to lay this down, I know this comes up in my heart because my greatest love, my Lord, wants to show me His way, to true intimacy with Him, the one I was made for. That constant seeking of approval, of acknowledgment, of recognition and praise is really my heart crying out for Him.
Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him... So I interpret restlessness as a sign that I'm not actually resting in Him. It's always His way of reminding me that I'm depending on myself, on my pride, on my vanity for my worth. That I'm looking outside of Him to be filled with something only He can give. Looking to save myself.
So I will lay it down, cross my arms over my head and step back, force myself to trust in His wisdom and to relent.
And as I step back I look up to you; Lord, I am unworthy to that you should enter under my roof...and yet you still desire to enter, into the midst of my unworthiness. It is our emptiness, our nothingness that makes room for Him to enter, to dwell, I in Him and Christ in me. He promises us that by the world's accounting we will be forgotten, derided, over-looked, neglected, humiliated, looked-down upon. We will lose everything and everyone that matters to us. We will be crushed and reduced to abject nothingness. Because it happened to Him first.
Why do I find solace in this thought? Why does the promise of rejection - that which I dread - fill me with joy? I think it's because I know-with a degree of certitude that is rare for me-that He was there in my lowest lows, in my heart-aching-broken-down-misery. That when the air was sucked out of the room I found a flame still flickering in the darkness of the room despite the lack of oxygen. There He was unquenchable. That is when I knew Him. That is when I knew what Love was.
And how do I keep managing to forget THAT but not forget myself?
Lord, wrench me from this black-hole of self-preservation and jolt my heart and catapult it back onto loving others.