Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eat Grit

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. 

Genesis 50:20

My husband and I have raised chickens for over 12 years. One thing we have learned is that they need to eat grit for supplying extra calcium and in aiding their digestion of food. Basically, they need to eat grit to be healthy. Recently I learned I do to.

I had a day filled with frustration from the moment I took my first step onto my bedroom floor. After encountering long waits, rude people, professional errors, and parenting conflicts, I was finally going to end my  day with my oldest daughter who had arranged for me to have my first pedicure as her mother's day gift to me. She met me bearing a beautifully decorated carrot cupcake and chocolate covered strawberries. I saw her culinary gifts and decided that perhaps my day would not be a "wash-out" after-all. We waited for over an hour when the business owner flagged a family of three, who had just arrived without an appointment, to begin their treatment before us. After deciding that I had had enough of this arduous day, I kissed my daughter goodbye and left for home with my small remnant of hope that my day would have some pleasure-my carrot cupcake. I pulled up into my driveway and began to walk toward my front door when my hand slipped and my eye-pleasing delicacy fell out of my hands, slipped out of its protective cover, and landed face down onto my driveway full of grit and dirt. Exacerbated, I picked up my soiled "ray of hope" and burst into my home spilling my grief onto my husband. What I decided to do next made the difference between painful defeat and soul nourishing pleasure. I pulled out a fork and began to eat the cupcake grit and all. I had never tasted anything so good.

Life can be full of hardship and pain. In those moments when pain appears to win out for the day, we must choose whether we will "eat" its grit and enjoy the blessing pain has to offer, or fall exacerbated at its feet and cry out in defeat. The story of Joseph, as recounted in Genesis, reminds us that God used the "grit" of life to build a nation that restored hope and life to countless tribes and people groups. The blessings of pain teaches us to extend compassion and mercy, to be thankful for small pleasures, to love more and judge less, and to realize that choosing our response to pain will make the difference between languishing or retaining the meaning of life to the very end. Eating life's grit opens our eyes to what is available instead of what is missing. It teaches us to live responsible with every choice we make. Pain teaches us that the opportunity for a good life rests in the manner in which we bear its burden. Eating grit reminds us that we have a choice; a choice to see how our responses dictates our experience.

Today, "eat grit" and and be restored to health.

Father, thank You for pain. Thank You for creating hope and restoring good in the midst of life's grit. I thank You that I have a choice. Today, I choose to "eat grit" and be spiritually well, amen. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Let Go of the Rope

I glorified You on earth, having accomplished [only] the work which You have given to Me to do 
John 17:4

My husband and I took off for our first fishing adventure for the year. We rushed to gather all our fishing paraphernalia, because we wanted to be on the lake before dusk. Arriving at the dock, my husband impatiently backed our boat into the water next to a boat that had arrived at the dock first. Since I am the one who always navigates the the pull of the boat when it has been launched , I attempted to question my husbands decision to release the boat away from the dock. As I was conveying my concern, and the fact that I would be thrust into the lake with the boat, my husband stated, "You will not get wet." I began to plead my case using another strategy, when he curtly interrupted me as said. "Would you like to back the boat into the water?"
I knew his statement was spoken in frustration, so I shrugged and said, "Okay" to his belief that everything would work out as he had planned. Within one minute, my concern became reality. Without any sure footing or a dock cleat to use, the boat was pulling me into the water with a force I simply could not overcome. So I did what any good-natured wife would do, I let go of the rope the boat was connected to. Suddenly the reality of my choice hit my husbands visual field. His brain and body went into "Rambo" mode. He shot out of the truck, threw his shoes off and high into the air, and lunged into the water chest high to save his floating boat. All the while, I simply smiled and gently stated, "Um, that is what I was trying to ask." Needless to say, this did not make our top ten most romantic moments, as his wallet and cell phone were still in his pant pockets. I guess he felt it necessary to spare his orthopedic inserts more than his wallet and phone. This should have been my first indication that talking to me afterwards would not be a high priority.  In the end, the boat was saved, the wallet and all its holdings were dried out, and the phone gained a whimsical bubbling sound ( I consider this a "new app" for his phone). 

What were the lessons learned? First, my husband understood the virtue of waiting and listening. He has declared his impatience was foolish and now has a new fishing story to share with his buddies and co-workers (although he tells this story different than I would). Second, I learned that letting go is often necessary and worth the risk. Often I have determined to hold on to a responsibility or expectation that "drowned" my soul and killed my spirit. I have refused to let go of a grievance that left me exhausted in mind and spirit. I have held on to friendships that have rendered me listless and lifeless. I have held onto beliefs that would later turn into anger and erupt onto my unsuspecting family. Letting go of the rope in that moment freed me. I was not meant or built to take on this force. What are you holding on to that is pulling you in to a quicksand of anger, frustration, fatigue, or helplessness. Do what I did and let go. 

Father, today, I let go of responsibilities and expectations that you 
have not ordained. I release attitudes and beliefs that are drowning my spirit and 
killing my soul. Like Jesus, I can only glorify You when I let go and only
do what you have created me to do, amen