Balloons, Birthdays,and Other Thoughts

It’s been an intense couple of months. Not intense in the roller coaster riding, marathon training, dark chocolate sort of way. Intense, in the my- life doesn’t- seem -to -be -working- anymore, -and I don’t -know -how -to make- it -work -again, and – I’m -making- jokes -about -that – but deep down I’m sad -and -tired- and- dreading- the -nights, -the days- and -definitely -all- the -meals-sort-of-way. My prayer world had become three prayers really, “Please don’t let them remember this year.” and “Please don’t let me remember this year.” and “Please don’t let any other year be like this.”

Travis intervened. “You don’t seem to be doing very well.” Now, here’s a mystery: Why, when asked, am I quick to dump my hardships on another, but when intervened on, am very very offended? It’s as if I want to proclaim  “My soul is withering away” and have someone respond, “Get out of town!!! You appear to be totally thriving!” If I’m going down, I’m going down with the public fooled.

Except no one was fooled. And in case you think you are the Expert Public Fooler, hang out with an 8 year old for ten minutes. They cannot be fooled. Ever.

The day after The Intervention, I was scheduled to speak for a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. I was fragile and as always, out of time, so I went to a familiar text and stood before these beautiful women and retold the meeting of Jesus with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, in Luke 24.

Even as I spoke I was overcome by the story of two people, choosing to run away from Jerusalem, a place of grief and disappointment over the crucifixion, just when Jerusalem was becoming the scene of resurrection.

They let their disappointment push them away from the places God was making new and their unmet expectations keep them from seeing Jesus, risen, standing right before them.

“We had hoped…” is the line that haunts me. They say it to Jesus, describing what all of us carry around birthday to birthday: it wasn’t supposed to look like this. I was supposed to be better than this. Life was supposed to be different, easier, cleaner, more glamorous.

These unnamed friends of Jesus are so lost in their grief over how they think things should have been and what He should have done, that they don’t see Him standing in front of them. They don’t recognize Him until He’s gone.

But when they realize it was Him, they stop running and they go back. Back to their community, back to where they belong, to the work God was doing in Jerusalem and the work that is before them.

The last few weeks have been about me going back – and figuring out what that looks like. I’m leaning into people more, asking for help and wisdom and actually listening. I’m working through what solutions and structures we need, what habits I need to pursue, and what I need to eliminate. Less screens, less stores, more writing,  more select voices, more select reading.

I have a Henry Cloud quote posted above my desk. It reads “You are ridiculously in charge of your life.” I can’t miss the fact that said desk is currently covered with other people’s stuff. Regardless, I love this quote. Somedays it’s just the reminder I need that I have other options besides complaining. But in its fullness, it points to the truth that this life, exhausting, non-hypoallergenic, haphazard, ridiculous, painful, exasperating and overflowing is the one in front of me.

In this life, God is doing new things and calling me to participate, and in this life, He stands in the midst.

Happy Birthday to Me. Thanks Mom. Onward.

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