A bigger promise

I have failed miserably at writing here every day. But I do that some thoughts that have emanated from my daily devotional on the YouVersion Bible App.

The current plan I’m going through now with a friend is all about devotions that speak to real-life. Really, that’s what I look for in any devotion. But one day so far struck me in particular.

Waiting is a tough thing. It can try the most patient person, and the type of waiting can really make that period of time hard to bear.  In the midst of it, we have to remember God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promises.

This is a noble thing – and we should take hold of it, remembering God’s promises. But the way it was presented in the devotional text was not pleasant. It discusses different life events that can cause us to wait or question God’s promises, including infertility:  “When there’s no pitter-patter of little feet, remember Genesis 30:22: ‘Then God remembered Rachel; he listening to her and enabled her to conceive.'”

This sounds like a nice thought in theory, but I think it’s where much of the ‘Christian narrative’ says that if you just pray enough, or wait enough, or remember the promises enough, God will give you what you desire. That the happy ending is coming. And I’m sorry to say this in case someone hasn’t heard it yet, but sometimes it’s just not going to happen.

I can’t tell you how strong my desire was (is…?) to have our own biological children. It was (is…? still working this out) immense. Overwhelming, all-consuming. Even as recent as a few weeks ago, I would be bee-bopping along in my actually really great life, then all of a sudden see a little girl with dark brown curls marching down the hall with her adorably too-big backpack and BAM. I was hit with that desire and emptiness that is sometimes so strong it could knock me to my feet in tears. I wish I were being dramatic.

So, considering our infertility, according to this idea in the devotional, did we not pray enough? Wait long enough? We have to look at this promise of God in context, as it’s specific to one woman, one situation in all the history of infertility.

The attitudes and apparent words of reassurance around the subject of infertility need to change, not just in the world, but especially in the church. There are probably millions of hurting women that instead of finding understanding and solace in the church when they confide their fears or feelings about their infertility are met with these one-off quotations of Scripture that really do nothing but cause more pain, at least for me.

We need a bigger promise. More than just God will enable us to conceive, because as I’m a first-hand witness to, sometimes it doesn’t happen (and maybe there is not some mysterious reason.. it could just be), and I firmly believe that our failure to procreate has nothing to do with our level of faith.

My promises from God have to be bigger to encompass and devour my fears, my emptiness, my sorrow over children lost, however intangible those children may be. My promises from God have to ensure that He holds me, He knows me, He loves me and has important and impactful work for me to do that does not involve being a biological mother or spreading my ‘maternal instinct.’

I will quote another part of the devotional that I found to be the most comforting: “When hope is scarce, remember Luke 24:6-7: ‘He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you,… ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” That is the bigger promise. That is the promise.

Treasure

“Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Matthew 6:21

I love this verse. It’s such a simple but poignant reminder about the effects of our priorities in life.

It’s no secret that Aaron and I are huge Dave Ramsey fans. I listen to the podcast on my commute back and forth to work everyday, and Dave references this verse quite a bit. He also takes it a bit farther to say that for married couples, financial decisions are also decisions about your values and dreams.

Money has been quite a controversial topic, not only in our capitalistic society, but also in church. It’s a huge deal. I’ve heard it said that Jesus mentions money almost more than he mentions anything else in the Gospels.

We are stewards of what God has given us, whether that’s much or little, the earth or our bodies, many jobs or one job. How we approach stewardship of these things is a direct reflection in our values, and what is in our hearts.

 

Sacrifice

I’m almost finished with a YouVersion devotional by Oswald Chambers, one of my favorites. Yesterday’s topic was sacrifice and he said this: “In certain stages of spiritual life we get the morbid conception that everything we have we must give up. In the Bible the meaning of sacrifice is the deliberate giving of the best I have to God that He may make it His and mine forever.”

This biblical perspective is in opposition to our cultural understanding of sacrifice: “It looks as if we had to give up everything, lose all we have, and instead of Christianity bringing us joy and simplicity, it makes us miserable…”

When we sacrifice, we invest whatever we sacrifice. The returns may look different than the image that ‘invest’ invokes in this day and age, but the concept is that we sacrifice our best [fill in the blank] so that God can use it to its fullest.

Injustice

This is a word that I still ponder. Not that I ponder the meaning; I ponder the solution. Many people wring their hands and say how can a supposedly good and just God let injustice run rampant in the world? I don’t know. I usually come back to the idea that humans have free will, and God does not interfere with it. Therefore, humans do things that are wrong, things that cause injustice.

Can all my rights fix their wrongs? Probably not in this life. But how can I lessen the effect of injustice in the world?

Great question, and it’s one that I’m still trying to answer.

We discussed something very basic in our church’s Lenten Bible study the other night – the fact that one of the things that made Jesus’ walk on earth so incredible is that he respected everyone and cast no one aside.

I could not pour enough money into trying to fix world hunger, or all of my efforts to equip all students with necessary supplies, but if I have not love, what good are my efforts? What injustice does it really undo or assuage?

I think the biggest impact I can have on the world’s injustice is loving everyone and excluding no one.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

I Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB

 

Lenten Journey: Day 1, Heal

Image result for lenten photo a day 2017 rethink

Last year for Lent I wrote a little bit everyday about a given topic and related it to my walk with Christ. Instead of spending time on social media, I spent time writing, praying, and reflecting. I will take time this year as well to write about a topic a day. I found the practice to be healing and introspective. Over the next few weeks, I hope to stay true to the spirit of freewriting by not editing or revising much.

MARCH 1: HEAL

Twenty sixteen was a year of grief. I hope 2017 will be a year of healing.

What grief do I need healing from? First of all, the grief of the intangible: infertility. I’m still wrestling with the reality that infertility unfortunately brings upon its sufferers. And I don’t think suffer is too strong of a word. Second of all, I need healing for the loss of loved ones – most recently my grandmother, almost a year ago now. Her death was sudden and heartbreaking, and I went through many weeks of reading and pondering all I could about grief, death, what our bodies actually go through when they die, and the hope we have in an afterlife.

A good portion of my healing so far has occurred through a practice of introspection and disconnection from things that bring me, well, grief. To put it plainly, I’ve deleted my Facebook once and for all. I’ve taken many steps back from social media in order to quit the comparison game. I’ve given myself permission to take back my time and head space. It’s been quite revolutionary.

Another portion of my healing, surprisingly, has been working with children. Exposure therapy, if you will. In August I was hired to teach elementary ESOL. I had never taught elementary in my life. I’d been an paraprofessional in first grade, but really had no idea about the #elementarylife. Funny enough, my office is situated in the hallway with the youngest children in our school – pre-K and preschool. Some days this has been rough, to see their adorable selves carrying their huge backpacks, thinking about if we had had a child when we started trying, he or she would be getting to that age. However, overall it’s been a wonderful experience. I never lack hugs or smiles…. but maybe I lack patience at times. 😉

And finally a third portion of my healing has been my yoga practice. I never thought I’d become a ‘yogini’, but I found a local yoga studio that’s just fantastic. I’ve been going about 3 times per week for about a month. The strength I’ve built is surprising… I keep joking that one day I’ll be able to do a legit pushup. Seriously, I’ve begun to love my body again instead of feeling so betrayed.

Running is always a part of healing for me… it’s also a part of celebration, of determination, of courage. It keeps me centered and gives me time to meditate and pray and appreciate the world around me. And for all these things I’m grateful.