I was already succumbing to the crashing waves of demand for various reasons and then reading about the futility of life seemed to bring on the tears.I am remembering my dear friend Ketty (in the left of the photo in her bright red jacket!) as September 5th marks the one year anniversary of her leaving us for a better place.
Overwhelmed by the thought of the few years I have left with my kids around. Taken with the reality of the struggles they have in their own attempts to maintain a personal walk with God. Wondering if I will ever have enough hours in the day to do all I want to do with them--instruct, laugh, work alongside, train, pray with/for, teach.
Praying for the neighbor who is caring for a tiny 7-month old Down's syndrome child who is very sick and has been even more sickly of late. Being concerned for the strain on her as she attempts to fully provide for him with all his needs and then carrying the weight of desire to walk in wisdom alongside her.
Waking up this morning to two dead rabbits that belong to the same neighbor, but were in our domain of attention while she was in the hospital with the 7-month old. We failed to put them away last night and a wild dog helped himself to a rabbit snack. Geoff had burial detail before 7 a.m. and then delivered the horrible news to her once she arrived back home after an 8-day hospital stay. Being the tellers of such bad tales was not on my agenda when I saw morning light a few hours earlier. The "if only" haunts were prevalent this morning as we all wished we'd remembered our furry neighbors last evening. (Buying new rabbits and delivering them helped shave off some of the painful burrs, but the loss delivers intermittent waves of regret for our irresponsibility.)
Sometimes the mistakes we make are just too much to bear.
As I was engaged in the mundane work of cleaning up yet another of life's messes this morning I remembered popular bumper sticker sagacity, "Life is hard and then you die." (I blame my reading of Ecclesiates each morning this past week for such optimism.) I quickly changed it to an arguably more depressing rendition, "Life is you making mistake after mistake and then you die."
Now before you pronounce me clinically depressed, listen. It is what you and I do with the mistakes that make all the difference.
Cry and whine?
Cry and Wine?
Cry and blame?
Cry and shame?
Pray and HUMBLY ask to be bolstered by His strength.
Humility is a theme that has come alongside the Sabbath focus for Geoff and me. We've had some nasty run-ins with our own failure to HUMBLY confront situations in family and friends. We've also watched as some ugly pride reared up in the words and actions of others have left a wake of confusion. And we have regretfully been a part of leaving our own path of destruction with words and attitudes levied at those who truly needed a bit of correction, but not in the way we delivered it.
What do you do when the weight of life seems too heavy, when you've been a part of laying burdens on others due to your pride--delivered offensively with either harsh words or attitudes, or when others' mistakes really do hurt and leave many addled and in want of health again?
I haven't yet mentioned the numerous extra relational things on my to-do list today that have been left undone because I am trying to rid my head of a migraine which is now going strong on 3 days. The pain and need to rest horizontal threatens to well up within me another dose of "you're not good enough because you're not accomplishing all you could today while you nurse a silly migraine." Today I am not meeting with girls in David family who have asked for mentoring; not having that tough conversation with someone who has asked for my guidance; not being present with someone who is grieving; and not able to walk alongside my own kids today; this one day in the short amount of time we have together on this earth.
When I was up for a short bit earlier to deliver this week's spelling words to the kids (yes, I still attempted here and there to accomplish some school instruction, but I wasn't very successful), Acacia went to the bookshelf to retrieve a dictionary and in so doing she knocked off and broke the frame around our picture of a Laguna Beach sunset. One of our few sources of visual peace we keep on the bookshelf to remind ourselves, in this land-locked country, of God's creative beauty in the ocean. The reality of the brevity of the lifespan of "stuff" sent a heat wave up my spine as I instantaneously pondered the futility of the energy required to keep all the "stuff" looking nice and functioning well. Again, I found myself feeling very, "Ecclesiastical."
Then I remembered as Acacia was in tears over her mistake that the only thing, THE ONLY THING, that really matters AT ALL is God Himself. As I hugged her and told her that what had just happened was really not a big deal, I was reminded that God alone is our comfort and the reason for which we live at all. These are the verses I reread today and I share for encouragement, ''Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments. For this is man's all."
Of all His commandments, it is His commandment to FORGIVE that is staring at me today. To forgive myself and others when we don't measure up.
It is God who can help me find true humility--Who can help me find hope in the midst of my mistakes--Who can deliver me into life when I feel surrounded by death and struggle--Who can help ME to rest and have true Sabbath in Him, laying down my efforts to accomplish good, and instead walking in His righteousness. Why? Because He Himself is humble, He is Hope, Life, Rest, Righteousness. It is this same God who has forgiven me all my sins and has commanded me therefore to forgive all those who have hurt me. And then, to bless them.
Yes, to bless. What did Job do after being mocked, berated, criticized, wrongly judged and blasted by his three "friends"? He obeyed God and prayed for them. "And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends." Lord, let me do the same to those who hurt me and even to myself when I can't see any of my stupid mistakes warranting redemption.
Let me pray for others and myself to know forgiveness, even to speak it out loud to them and to myself if I must and then pray a blessing over them (and receive one for myself.) Jesus gives me such comfort in His words, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
So, when life seems too heavy, too much, a mound of mistakes and failures--others or my own--let me learn from Him. Let me rest in Him and be hopeful because He was, He is, and He will always be in the midst of my life, my kids' lives, my neighbors' lives and your life. Amen.