I find myself on Sunday evenings with a few teenager girls in my living room talking. We discuss things like how to make time to be with the Lord every day, boys, honoring parents/authority & I am realizing that though the life I lived at 16 is light years different than the life that they live, some of the battles they face are the exact same ones I fight day to day. Relevance, Spirituality, Humility, Gratefulness, Peace, Honor & Dreams. We wage the same wars. This last week we read together out of John 3 about the pain that John the Baptist fought to express to his disciples as Jesus came to John’s side of the river, taking His rightful place…..right out of the hands of His friend.
“He must increase, and I must decrease”. And anyone who’s experienced the reality of those words knows how painful & how confusing they are. When that is the only thing that you can say as a dream dies, as something you planned for goes terribly different, when all you can do is open your hands & let Him take what you so want to fight to keep. When looking up from the broken pieces of misunderstanding & having no clue what comes next….. you can choose to let His voice be your joy.
The Friend of the Bridegroom rejoices when he hears His voice, knowing that his task is now complete. We can rejoice in His voice when we don’t know where He leads. We can rejoice in His voice when He steps in & takes all we’ve worked for. We can rejoice …….. or we can not. It’s basically that simple. We can choose to trust God when God looks the most untrustworthy, or we can not. As I spoke I watched sadness, sobriety & even fear play upon the faces of these girls who I love & I know their confusion & I know their fear. I know their hope that God would never allow their plans to go any other route than the one they are carefully dreaming. But I know my story. It’s a mess, a chaotic mess, but I believe that God still makes beauty from ashes. If there is anything I have to offer young people it is the lessons I’m slowly learning as I walk through this crazy, beautiful, ashy mess about how to put my trust in Jesus, how to believe He is good in the taking, in the breaking of dreams, in the “killing of churches” as Randy Bohlender put it (Seriously, do yourself a favor and read his book ‘Jesus killed my Church‘).
So I shared with them this story:
Last week was what looks to be, the last week of hot weather that Kansas City will be seeing in 2013. I’ve been trying to dress the girls in their cutest summer clothes knowing that the warmth was running out & that they won’t fit in these close when it’s warm again. Friday I put them in these outrageously girly white dresses, complete with layers of ruffled, sequined green detail with on giant green, sparkly flower on the shoulder. As I pulled the outfits from the closet I considered that I may spend the entire day trying to keep the sequins out of their mouths, but it’s the most impractical baby clothes that are too cute to resist.
Hours later after a day of fusses, fits, multiple time outs & a refused nap I tiredly paced the living room with Baby 2 in my aching arms. She hits a point of frustration that only quiets if you hold her & responds with LOUD outrage when put down, which at that point, I did. I too was tired, frustrated & cranky. Out of desperation I collapsed on the couch, setting her at my feet to which she responded with heartfelt wailing.
I buried my face in my hands, prepping for some minutes of loud protesting which began & instantly stopped. I quickly looked up to make sure she wasn’t hurt. She sat peering intently at the layers of ruffle & sequin piled around her. For some time she sat still, until slowly with one finger she reached down towards the bottom of her dress. Somewhere among the multiple layers of cloth, on one single hemline, almost completely hidden by a bajillion sparkles there was one tiny piece of thread poking off the dress.
By tiny I mean less than a quarter of an inch. It was the exact same color as the rest green on the dress. It was IMPOSSIBLE for the baby to have seen it, but she did. With wonder she lightly touched it over & over with the tip of one finger. I released my pent up emotions in a long sigh and said “Baby, you pay such attention to detail.”
And in my spirit I heard the Lord say “I pay attention to the details.”
It’s funny how quickly you can find yourself in tears. Ok maybe not you, and maybe it’s not even funny because everyone knows I’m a deeply emotional little creature, but it was just like that. From frustrated & hard to Instantly tender heart, instantly teary eyes, instant affirmation that I am SEEN & KNOWN & so cared for. For the next few days I heard it like a gentle echo inside ” I pay attention to the details”, as the moments of my day slipped by. Moments that I didn’t think mattered, choices that I didn’t think matter, responses that I didn’t think mattered just suddenly did. You’re much more aware when you know that you are seen.
The problems aren’t solved, the questions aren’t necessarily answered but there is real comfort in trusting God enough to let go and give Him what matters when you know that He see’s.