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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hearing God's Extraordinary Voice on an Ordinary Day

Much of last week was really icky.  I couldn't seem to look past the cold, the grey, the heaviness of the air.  My Weather app on my phone couldn't either.  Ugly cloud icons hung on each day and then gave way to that darn snowflake on Friday.  And I tried to ignore it, but it just stayed there taking all my hope of spring, renewal, and light away.  Yet as much as I had wished away this winter, the unsettling thing was that I had let it take hold of me.  I had trouble getting up and getting dressed and being where I needed to be.  Little tasks, lunch meetings, carpools, packing lunches(!), things that I had committed to do - even fun outings - they seemed like such a burden.  Did I really need to show up?   Did those people really need me?  On most mornings as I first opened my eyes and trudged downstairs, I wondered if I had suddenly given up to become one with winter.  Because in those early hours before the kids and the husband came downstairs, I felt as cold and grey and icky as the sky.  Worse yet, I felt little motivation to change course.

You know that feeling?  The "not enough" one?  I simply did not have it in me to be enough.  Not a good enough wife.  Not a good enough friend.  Not a good enough mother.  Not a good enough cook to make something that's healthy that everyone will actually put in their mouths.  Not a good enough exerciser to tie her shoes and make her way to the treadmill.  Not a good enough writer to take the words past this place.  Not a good enough will power-er(?) to resist the Girl Scout cookies.  Not a good enough Christian to spread the light that God asks me to spread, because I'm pretty sure He made a mistake.  Not me, God.  I am useless for You.  Surely, you do not need me.

When I feel that I am not much, I decide that I don't need much either.  I don't need other human beings, because I can't give them much.  So I decide I will huddle with my books and my tv and my internet.  Maybe the fictional characters there are enough for me.  Maybe the occasional text or click on the "like" button are enough to keep one foot in the real world without submerging myself into real relationships and real work.

On one of those days last week, under the blanket, on the couch,  I clicked on my friend, Elizabeth's blog.  I saw THIS article which said exactly what I was feeling in words, black and white, in front of my scowling face:

And now, the tempter in the desert is hissing loudly in our ears. Not good enough. Not patient enough. Not organized enough. Not diligent enough. The hissing reaches a wild, unfettered crescendo. Not enough. Never enough. Never will be enough.  The accuser is taking up residence inside our heads, and he is speaking to us in our own voices. We hear him talking; the things he’s saying — we are allowing him to say — are things we’d never say to another person. We’d never be so unkind, never be so accusatory, never be so relentless. Somehow, though, the self-evaluation of this season has given way to well-entrenched habits of self-recrimination. We talk to ourselves inside our heads in ways that would astonish people who hear us speak aloud. The enemy has taken up residence, and it’s his voice that is drowning out God’s. God calls to repentance along the path to forgiveness.

As much as I wanted to insulate myself from outside voices, I had been unsuccessful.  I was not alone. I was letting the enemy, the accuser, the tempter take a seat next to me on the couch and talk to me in my own voice.  And with one look at the date on the calendar, I realized something else.  (insert smacking hand against forehead) 

Ladies, do you know who the enemy's trusty sidekick is?

PMS.  The devil's right hand man, y'all. 

So I knew what I was dealing with.  I knew that I would feel better in a few days.  Probably just at the time that I needed to reach into the cabinet under the bathroom sink for that pink box.  And I wish I could tell you that after reading all of Elizabeth's words and praying on them, that I jumped up and started takin' care of business.  But I didn't.  I think I sighed and wrapped the blanket tighter.

On Saturday morning - the day after the cold, grey spring snow fell and turned to cold, grey rain - the sunshine peeked in through the blinds and woke me up earlier than I wanted to get up.  Steve and the littlest guy were away for the weekend.  The big boys were still asleep.  But now I was awake.  I tried not to be angry at the sun because WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE, SUNSHINE AND WHY DID YOU PICK THIS UNGODLY HOUR TO  SHOW UP ON A SATURDAY MORNING?

Before the boys woke, I spent more time reading Elizabeth's words and the words she had relayed from Corinthians:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I'd read it before.  I knew it to be true.  But somehow I still wasn't letting God's voice drown out the other voices.  I clicked away.

Later that morning, the big boys were out of the house and I tended to the things I had let go during the icky week.  I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned and laundered.  I turned up my Iphone and I sang: THIS and THIS and THIS.  And I felt a little bit, kinda, sorta happy-ish.

And then the 14 year old walked in from practice and gave me a hug while I still was holding the vacuum in one hand.

Let's write that again.  THE 14 YEAR OLD CAME IN AND GAVE ME A HUG. 

And then he asked if we could go get him a haircut.

Let's write that again.  HE ASKED ME ABOUT THE HAIRCUT.  HE ASKED.

So I looked around to see if I was being punked and I got dressed in real clothes.  And I brushed my hair and put on some lip gloss.  And we went to lunch.  The 14 year old and me.  And we talked.  Like, we talked - the both of us - not just me.  And we laughed.  Later, the 14 year old and I sat on the couch and switched between Cops and Walker, Texas Ranger.  And we talked.  And we laughed.

Saturday evening, the 14 year old had a church event, so the 16 year old and I went to dinner.  And we talked and we laughed.  We discussed our busted basketball brackets.  And then we sang songs in the car.

When I shut my eyes that night I realized that I was actually smiling - a big, goofy grin.  I thought about my ordinary, extraordinary day.  It occurred to me that God has some pretty trusty sidekicks of His own.  Sometimes, at least with me, He has to gather them all up together to make a point and to drown out that other voice.

God's voice had come to me through a small sliver of sunlight waking me before I meant to wake.  It had come to me as I sipped a fizzy diet coke and shared buffalo wings in a booth in a sports bar.  It had come to me when we hit rewind again and again and cracked up at a ridiculous commercial on some random cable channel.  It had come to me over a brownie sundae with two spoons and a boy who grows taller by the second.  It had come to me through the strangest, most confusing of His creations:  the teenager.

God made me new a long time ago.  He made me enough a long time ago.  He forgave me a long time ago.  And even though I know all of that, I, so often let other voices drown His out. 

But His voice is always there right in front of me.  In His word, in a friend's blog post, in a song, in a changing season, in the sudden bursting laughter of my teenagers.

His voice assures me in the most ordinary circumstances:  You are loved. You are blessed.  You are enough. 

(and just to be sure I remember next time, I counted out 28 days on the calendar and I wrote myself a note)