08 Jun My never-ending thirst
I’m drained and exhausted. Tedious tasks scream to be tackled. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is really wrong. But the world around me is demanding my attention and time. And my attention is feeble. My energy and focus are depleted. I try to center myself, to embrace my mess. The segments of my day, the chunks of time, crumble. I try to sweep up bits and minutes for use, but scraps are all that are left. I walk away from the mess beaten.
Yesterday was my twentieth wedding anniversary. Going into it, I knew it would be a normal day. I overslept and missed a planned morning run with my husband. (He went without me, because he’s nice enough to not wake me up.) Sleep was sweet because I was up late the night before, unable to fall asleep for some reason. But I do enjoy exercising with him, and was sad I missed our romantic anniversary run.
Lee and I both had busy days and no time to properly celebrate. It was a Wednesday. The first week of no school. The dance recital week, full of rehearsals. The last week our French exchange student is here. The first week of our older daughter’s two new jobs. The week I scheduled a doctor appointment, haircuts for four of us, and family pictures. Trying to squeeze in an obligatory, candlelit dinner or expensive gifts felt like we’d be adding stress rather than celebrating. That said, Lee did place a card and a bottle of “stress relief” aroma therapy lotion on my desk before he left for work. I used the lotion and went on to have a day that made me cry tears from stress. If he has the receipt, I am going to suggest he return the lotion because it is definitely defective. It didn’t relieve anything!
Life is picking at me like vultures attacking a carcass. That’s melodramatic, I suppose. I’m not dead – I’m not lying on the ground. I’m running and darting here and there, trying to stay ahead of what chases me.
So many people in so many places have so much need. I’m caring for my kids, my husband, myself. I’m trying to care for friends and neighbors. A murder/suicide involving children took place across the street from our church this week. Our community is shaken with grief. My brain can hardly absorb what has happened. How will the survivors of that tragedy move forward? How do any of us move forward? How can our world be this broken?
I had a quick conversation with an older Christian woman last weekend. I asked her how she keeps track of all her prayers. How does she possibly pray for her children, her grandchildren, and the church, community, world? I asked how she organizes her mind and how she knows where to begin. I came away with no more technique or plan than I had before. Prayers aren’t to be contained, that’s something I know. Praying isn’t tidy. She did encourage me and poured some of her faithfulness into my weary heart.
Some people use me and give no thanks, no gratitude, no help, no smiles. There are those who take and take, demand much while offering nothing in return. Others provide. Others serve. Others listen. I must hold onto to bits of kindness. Hold onto smiles.
Jesus is here. Jesus lives. He loves. He helps. He sees. With Him I can love, help, see others.
I want to live as Christ. I want to love as Jesus loved. Sometimes, I’m gulping and gagging and spitting out salty water and am totally sick of loving.
Sometimes I need to accept offered love. I’m dying of thirst in a merciless ocean.
Yesterday a spoonful of freshwater love was raised to my thirsty lips. A friend (who is busy with a fulltime job and two little kids and a best friend recovering from a car accident) texted and asked if she could transport my kids to their various places so Lee and I could go out for our anniversary.
I refused her offer. Lee had already made plans to play guitar with a friend in great need of a friend. Our anniversary night was the only available time he could go; and we both wanted him to go. My friend’s life-giving, love-sustaining offer was worth more to me though than the hour she would have given us for a romantic dinner.
I have a never-ending thirst of need. But God offers never-ending rush of water. I can guzzle from a waterfall, and it will not run dry. That’s important for me to remember. I can’t pray for everything. I can’t do everything. I can’t fix anything. I drink the flowing fresh water to live. I live to drink the water.
I forced my eleven-year-old daughter to sit with me last night. It was 9:30 and the crazy day was ending. She had been in her room, but I made her come downstairs and listen to me read picture books from the library. When they were younger, my three kids would snuggle on (or near) my lap while I read. Thinking about the children in our community who were murdered this week and acknowledging my stress, all I wanted was to hold my children near. Since my sixteen-year-old wasn’t home and my fourteen-year-old was watching television with his French big brother, I had no choice but to pounce on the baby.
She is more of a book critic these days than the submissive, sweet, snuggly listener she used to be. But I get it – most soon-to-be sixth graders aren’t too keen on hearing their mommas read books written for five-year-olds. She told me the faults of each storyline. She critiqued artwork. She may have rolled her eyes a few times.
“No one likes a critic, my child,” I told her. I told her she must write her own books. Iron out the flow of words. Solve problems. Make better choices. Use her own paintbrush to illustrate what’s going on. Make meaning. Write better stories.
This morning. I’m here. I woke up to the sun. A new day. Every new morning is a gift. Great is God’s faithfulness. The husband whom I couldn’t connect with all day yesterday is in the chair next to me in his gray pajama pants and his red hoody reading the morning newspaper. He’s irritated as usual about the things he’s reading. The days he has time to sit by my side to read and rant, they are good days.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
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Photo by Matthew Bennett