Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Word for Mom’s Who Can’t Even With More Words

((This is more of a book chapter than a blog post, but I figured I'll post it anyway.))

In the mid 90s, my parents very hesitantly agreed to let me watch Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” with the boobyliscious Esmerelda and the very negative portrayal of authority figures. Scandal. (I was the firstborn. Every decision was a major thing. Pocahontas almost broke up the family, bless her heart.)

I remember getting chills and misty eyes when Quasimodo swoops down, grabs up the helpless Esmerelda who is being burned at the stake for being a witch (wow, Disney, dark), escapes to the roof of the towering church, throws up his hands, and cries out “Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” And just like that, the helpless Esmerelda in her sweeping white dress is free. She isn’t pursued any more. She’s out of danger. The mob affirms the cry of “Sanctuary!” that Quasimodo has claimed for her, and Esmerelda checks off another box on her nine lives.

Writing this, I’m hiding behind the vending machines at the YMCA. My kids are in child watch. (I take my 2 hours a day of “free” babysitting very seriously.) For the first time in several high-stress days, I’m alone. On the floor. I haven’t seen another person in 20 minutes. It is heaven. If I sat in the locker room, the old ladies would want to talk to me about their grandchildren, and I just can’t. I can’t even with the grandchildren right now. So right here, right now, I’m claiming this cold patch of blue linoleum behind the over-priced snacks as my sanctuary. I’m throwing up my hands and crying, “Jesus meet me here. On the floor. Next to that dead moth. With Iggy Azalea pumping through the walls from the step aerobics class down the hall. Sanctuary!” And just like that, this is holy ground. And he meets me.

When I’m burdened and tired beyond reason, well-meaning Christians often ask me, “Well have you spent time in the Word, honey? I’m always a mess when I don’t spend time in the Word.” 

Their intentions are good. So good. Hearts of gold, those people. They know from experience that mom-life is like a bowl with a hole; constantly draining the best out of us. They know my life is an eternal one-drop-in-three-drops-out cycle with very few sources of rejuvenation to keep that bowl from going dry. They see I’m running low. They want my cup to run over. They know Jesus is sweet, so they want me to get filled up with Jesus. The only way they know how to tell me to do it is to shove this book we like to call The Word at me.

This morning a helpful little devotion written for moms suggested that I wake up before my children and spent an hour pondering The Word. 

Seeing as I was up late trying to reconnect with my busy husband, tended the needs of an angry, snotty, teething baby every two hours all night long, and was ultimately foisted out of bed for the day at 6:30 by my toddler… this suggestion pretty much just made me want to stab the book in the eyeballs.

Gosh, yall, it’s not that I don’t want to spend some quiet and uninterrupted time in The Word. It would be great to be filled instead of drained like a leaky lady boat, but there ain’t no way I’m waking up at 5 a.m. If I got up at 5:00 a.m., it wouldn’t matter if the Lord Jesus himself appeared. I would be too sleepy to notice. Mornings make me ragey and delirious at the best of times. Don’t speak to me of giving up more sleep. I will loose my mama marbles.

Internally, I churned and fumed over this suggestion as I went through the morning routine of changing all the butts, feeding all the mouths, wiping down all the insanely mucky hands, wiping all the butts again, and redressing the squirming screaming bodies who don’t seem to realize that this happens every day whether they like it or not. A few hours later I finally had everyone strapped into car seats and we were on our way to the YMCA. 

Ed Sheeran was on the radio. The sky was a misty grey that made all the green look electric. It promised a cleansing rain. The children were quiet (probably for the first time in a month). Inside my heart, a small space of peace and gratefulness began to open up. Grace cracked in like a gentle breeze, refreshing a deep-seeded weariness in my body and mind. I felt my jaw unclench and my shoulders uncurl. The goodness of God was so present. I brought my focus there. I was obedient to that good space God was giving to me. I said, “Yes. This and nothing else in this moment.” In the quietness of my heart, I let him show me that I am loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting arms. Driving across the busy Victory and Skidaway Road intersection, I drank in The Word.

I’m going to say something that may freak out the die hard conservatives at first, but I really believe we can back this up with scripture:

Spending time in The Word could—at times—have nothing to do with a book. 

For the Jews, The Word was the Torah. The Word of God. The recorded legacy of God’s promises to his people. If you were an ancient Jew and you wanted to spend time in The Word, you read the Torah. Period.

After Jesus comes and turns The Law coo-coo crazy on its head, we find The Word described differently. John tell us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1). 

He? Huh? M’kay, so the book is a boy? No. John is giving us a word picture (no pun intended) of Jesus. The Word = Jesus. Before there was the Torah, before there was a book to sum up God’s promise to his people, there was The Word Jesus.

The Apostle Paul encourages Christians to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). Man. I want that. But I’m still not waking up at 5:00 am. 

Here’s the beautiful thing… if The Word is more than The Book, it can dwell in us richly wherever we are. The very next verse assures us of this: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col 3:17). It’s a beautiful sequence. “Let the word dwell in you… whatever you do… do it in the Word.”

Some of us mamas desperately need The Word, but the last thing we need is MORE WORDS! My brother-in-law—at 3 years old—was famous for demanding around the dinner table, “Stoppa yah talkin’!” Dang, ladies, don’t we feel that? Please, no more words. Please, in my rare and beautiful moments of silence, not more words. 

The Word? Yes, please!
Wordy word words? Do we have to? 

Maybe the Word could be a quiet, obedient space in our hearts where we are open to his peace, renewed by his grace, soothed by his kind heart for us. Maybe the Word could be the acceptance of his good promise to patch up a few of those leaky holes in our hearts and fill us with the things we lack. Go on and splash some of that goodness on me, Holy Spirit; I’m tired and twitchy from caffeine, touched out, sick of 5-point harness carseats, and I never want to make another PB&J sandwich in my life. 

“Have you spent time in the Word?”

“Well, gosh, The Word sure as heck has been in me! The Word has been dwelling in me richly. In whatever I do, in word or deed, because I’m doing it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. And bless my buttons, I couldn’t do it any other way.”

Spend time in the Word, my darlings. Make a quiet place in your heart. Let the Word spend some time in you there.

Jesus doesn’t need more of your labors, your doing, your busyness. You are already sacrificing so much for his kingdom. He says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, my sisters, you did for me” (Matt 25:40). He doesn’t ask you to sacrifice 5:00 am to earn a spiritual fill-up. (Or, he might, but, Sista', he isn’t asking that of me! Shoot!) The Word wants to lavish a spiritual fill-up on you. Free of charge. Rest in him. Let him dwell in the quiet spaces of your heart. Cry out, "Sanctuary!" wherever you are, and look for the blessing to enter your heart exactly in that space.

No comments:

Post a Comment