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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Remembering What Our Souls Know Well

This afternoon I went running.  I was feeling not-so-good and really, really full.  Like of food.  I was also feeling like I just can't get the Christmas decorations or any decorations to look like those other gals in the neighborhood do.  I was feeling completely uncreative and unable to make my home look inviting and warm.  I was feeling like I shouldn't have snapped at that kid who was trying to tell me something when I was clearly writing an important email. (Either that or trying to find a lamp online.  Truth.)  I was feeling like I must have gone incredibly wrong at some point since one of my kids told me he doesn't like to read.  I was feeling like maybe when I was with my family over Thanksgiving break, it was all too hurried.  Maybe I flitted around and gave only a bit of myself to each person.  Maybe I didn't sit still and look each one in the eye and listen.  Maybe I should've helped with the dinner more.  Maybe I should've played with my own kids more.  Maybe I should've gotten in touch with my high school friends more.  Maybe, once again, I just was not enough.

Then I changed course, not only with where my feet were running, but with where my mind was running.  I stopped thinking about all my mistakes and started to talk with God about the simplest things that were okay about me.  I thanked God that my knee didn't hurt and that my heart pumped and that my feet moved one in front of the other and that my breaths went rhythmically in and out of this body.  This body, that for so many, many years I hated and liked and hated and liked depending on what one shining, red digital number on a scale told me.  I thanked Him that I can walk and talk and run and laugh and feel awesome.  I even thanked Him that I can cry and worry and feel really crappy, too, because it reminds me.  It reminds that I feel awful after, in the selfless act of saving my son from anaphylactic shock and in the equally selfish act of eating my feelings, I put away four mini bags of peanut M&Ms.  I thanked him that even when I mess up, even when I don't do everything (or anything) right, He made me better than I think I am.  I thanked Him for reminding me of the exact verse that I wrote about my sweet, new, baby cousin, Neeley Kate.

"I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Marvelous are Your works.  And that my soul knows very well." - Psalm 139:14

I think our problem, people, is that we forget how wonderfully made we are. We forget how marvelous are His works. This world is full of amazing people who don't know that they are amazing.   I think maybe that's where all the anger and the bitter and the hate that we see out there in the world sometimes is rooted. I think that's where all these self-esteem/self-confidence/selfie-selfie-self(ish) issues are rooted. They are rooted in the forgetting. We forget that we are enough, that we do enough and that we have enough. And not just enough, folks. Marvelous are Your works? Wonderfully made? That sounds like more than just enough.

And why do we women do this?  I'll tell you what, I think our men do it, too.  They just don't tend to blab it all out there like we (or maybe just I?) do. Maybe it's because we're broken.  All of us.  Even those of us who have affirming, supportive parents and loving, generous spouses.  Because no one is affirming and supportive and loving all of the time.  And then there's our culture which will chew us up and spit us out and fill us with shame if we can't live up to its standards of money or beauty or success. You know what I mean, right?  All that stuff we got in our mailbox today?  That Pottery Barn catalog.  That Victoria's Secret miracle/wonder/fake! business.  That Christmas Card with that gal's kids who you are sure didn't have to be bribed with a lifetime supply of Happy Meals to smile for the camera.  Kelly Ripa and her buff arms and her Electrolux oven.

Sometimes we just get down on ourselves for silly things. I'm not naive enough to think that it's all silly things though.  I know for some people, it's that someone else brought you down, and unfortunately, it might have been someone who was supposed to love you to the moon and back. Sometimes it's because those people forgot to tell you how wonderful you are. Sometimes it's because those people told you the flat-out opposite. Sometimes when that happens, we take that hurt in us and turn it toward someone else. 

So, what if the things you are ashamed of are bigger than feeling inadequate about Christmas decorating or that your jeans are too tight?  What if what is broken inside of you is not so simple?  Maybe you've been hurt deeply and in turn, you have deeply hurt someone else.  Maybe you have made mistakes that you can't easily mend.  Maybe the choices you made didn't bring you what you thought they would.  Maybe things just didn't turn out the way you wanted them to turn out.  Whatever you've done that wasn't amazing doesn't have to define you.  It doesn't have to follow you.  Maybe you just can't seem to remember that He will not turn you away, NO MATTER WHAT. 

See?  It's the forgetting.  Maybe we can't remember how marvelous are His works.  How wonderfully made we are.  There is always room to turn.  There is always a fork in the road.  There is always, always grace.  There is always forgiveness from Him.  He wants us to know how wonderful and marvelous we are and can be.  He wants us to know that we can act that way, too.  He wants us to know that we will continue to fail and He'll continue to be there when we get up and say we're sorry and try again.

How about we think more about little Neeley Kate?  The world ahead of her.  The good, decent world ahead.  A world in which she hasn't made any mistakes.  A world in which she doesn't know the mistakes of others.  It is so easy to see that Neeley is marvelous and wonderful.  It is so easy for Neeley to see how marvelous and wonderful is her world.   Could we go back to sweet Neeley's perspective?  Could we feel we are the apple of someone's eye?  Could we feel that the world is shouting praises about our mere presence here, even in the midst of its brokenness?  Could we be a little, bright, pink bundle of promise and light in a dark place?

Maybe it wouldn't be so hard.  Maybe we could just decide.  We could just decide to forgive the mistakes we've made.  We could forgive the mean.  Sometimes that involves forgiving our very own voices.  Sometimes it involves forgiving someone who hurt us.  If what Beth Moore says is true and "mean has a history", maybe we have to forgive the mean and maybe the mean have to forgive their history.  Could the angry or the sad or the pained let that muck flow out and replace it with, if not some happy, just some calm?  Could we let the bitterness and disappointment melt and could we just sit down and soak in the puddle of grace? 

It isn't about self-esteem.  It isn't about thinking that we are "all that".  It's about knowing who we are and to whom we belong.  It's not about thinking that we make no mistakes.  It is about knowing that He makes no mistakes.  It's knowing that when we feel less than marvelous and even when we behave less than wonderfully, He waits with open arms.  He waits for us to acknowledge that we made a mess of it and we need a little clean up.  He's just waiting.  Let's change our course and run to Him.  Let's stop forgetting how marvelously and wonderfully He made us.  Today, let's work on remembering what He wants our souls to know well.

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