I’ve oscillated between life and joy and utterly grumpy the past few days. The impending change of our schedule from school days to summer days brings sweet relief and a sinking dread, sometimes all within five minutes.
I wonder when I’ll carve out time to write, prepare for the book launch, and hang out with y’all. I think about slipping on the teacher hat I wore before my children were born because now, as upper elementary students, we really need to work on math these coming months. I think about lazy days at the pool, sibling fights, and wondering if I’ll have a moment’s peace. I think about the attitude of my youngest and all I can think is “Dear God, please help us drop the drama and just love each other well.”
I think about this space slowly building resources, connections, long-life friends, and sweet moments of relief (Oh, I’m not alone!). I’m still trying to figure out what my husband and I could do on the cheap for our anniversary, which we will be celebrating a month late. There’s still the end of the year teacher gifts to buy, my house is a disaster, and even as I type this, I know I have a meeting in 30 minutes. I’m in my pajamas still.
Yesterday, I was reminded of my Lenten fast from criticism. Words hit me like a blow to the gut and I started questioning the book (if you’re new here, my husband and I have a book coming out in October about our journey through his porn addiction). Within moments, these words had me turned upside and and sideways. I panicked, but I didn’t get far. Even though I let the lies get in, even though I felt that old shame cover me like a well worn cloak, even though I wanted to start calling others for affirmation, I went to Jesus first.
He led me to Acts 7 – the stoning of Stephen. He’s standing accused of lies, no less, but before he even starts speaking, people are looking at him. They can’t help but not to because his face is actually glowing with the Holy Spirit. He’s got God and he knows it’s all he needs, even when faced with accusations and possible death.
I sit in my chair, tears streaming down my face, but no longer with shame and tears. They stream with joy. I am overcome by God’s intense love for me – to lead me to this chapter, to speak to me. God knows what it’s like to stand falsely accused. Jesus knows what it’s like to be criticized. God knows what it’s like to be abandoned. The Israelites did it time and time again. He reminds me…I am not alone.
As Stephen lay dying, the scattered stones that broke his body but not his soul, rest beside him. And before he departs this earth, he says two things:
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
“Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!”
Those who threw the rocks, they took his clothes and they brought them to a young man named Saul.
Saul. The Saul, adement enemy of Jesus, persecutor of Christ-followers. The Saul, who two chapters later, meets Jesus and is forever changed. The Saul who gets a new name and so much more.
I used to hold onto to people’s harsh words. I used them as self-protection. I used them for motivation. I used them as excuses not to engage. I used them for revenge. Through Lent, though, I realized how cheaply I constructed my armor compared to the very armor that God offers me.
Turns out, I had been fighting with a foam sword when I could have had one made from the sturdiest of iron. Turns out, I had been fighting the wrong enemy, too.
To be honest, I still feel a little battle weary. Declaring the Truth of who I am and who God is until it sinks into every recess of my heart is hard work. There is sweet relief, yes, but just as there is satisfaction after a long run, there is also need for rest and rejuvenation.
And perhaps that’s why I’m typing here, unplanned this morning. Because to write these things and let them all go, brings rest to my soul. To know that in this space, my words don’t have to be perfectly organized or particularly flowy, is joy. To know I can throw out my wounds, my triumphs, my crankiness, and my worries gives me great peace.
So thank you, for helping me make this space what it is. It’s not the same without you. And there is always room for your words here, too.