DISCLAIMER: Nothing about this post will be pretty, frilly, or remotely comfortable. Sometimes life puts us in uncomfortable places. Heck, sometimes we put ourselves in those uncomfortable places all on our own. I've been in one of those places lately, and I have to confess (some of) it here. You see, there's something unusual about confession: it makes you feel better. Hmm. That isn't a new concept. Then why does it seem to be sometimes?
The reason for the confession of the messiness? I had an encounter with the Holy One Who longs to take me out of this mess through a dream this morning. On a side note, I'm not one of those "every dream ever means something" sort of people, but make no mistake: this one meant something. And, through His love for me, I know what it meant.
I've struggled for quite some time with my family's lack of quality family time. And by that, I mean Garrett, Saralynn, and me- able to spend real, solid time together- doing things that matter (and even some things that don't). A bit about that here:
I am more than grateful for Garrett's job- that it brings money into our house and that he has a place to go and share the light God has placed inside him, but sometimes I just can't help but wish more for him. God Himself breathed all kinds of creativity into Garrett- by way of video/audio/visual stuff, photography stuff, a heart for ministry (that God is still fine-tuning, but is there, nonetheless)... Some days, I just can't help but want more for him than to flip chicken. More than once over the past few months, we as a family have talked about what a blessed company Chick-fil-A is, and I believe that with all my heart. Jesus fills that place and the people that head it, and, yes, we all have to eat, so it takes someone to flip the chicken that comes in your #1 combo, but I find myself praying, ok even sometimes longing, for that someone to be anybody but my husband. I see the way his eyes sparkle when he gets behind a computer to build slides for our contemporary service. I am filled with awe and admiration of the One Who gave him to me when I see him worshipping, head thrown back, hands moving towards Heaven, as he sings the words he so painstakingly typed in the night before at our Sunday morning service. I KNOW he has the heart and the talent to do what he's doing, and to do it full-time. And I find myself asking "WHY can't he?" "WHY is he stuck in a job that keeps him away from his daughter all the time?" "WHY does his schedule only come out a week in advance, and consist of different daily schedules, and WHY does that change some days with only hours' notice?" "WHY can't he work an 8-5 Monday through Friday job instead of an open this day, close that day, gone all day Saturday schedule that makes no sense and makes it impossible for us to plan anything?" "WHY do I have to read about our friends' adventures to the zoo, the movies, out of town trips on a whim, while I'm at home wiping the red, tear-stained cheeks of a little girl whose heart is broken as she stands at the back door and shouts through the door facing 'Daddy, please come back to me. Please don't go cook again today.?" "WHY?"
The answer? I have no idea.
Sundays are equally emotionally building and emotionally tearing for me, too. Garrett, doing what he feels called to do, leaves the house most Sunday mornings at 6:00 to go to church and get everything set up. As is obvious, this leaves Saralynn and me (along with Mimi and Pop if they don't need to be there early) at home to get ready. We usually make it to church in time for
Saralynn to jump in Daddy's lap for a quick hug and kiss before it's off to Sunday School, which Garrett is usually late for and has to leave early from. Then, the service for which the leadership team has planned and prepared begins. We launched our new service in September, and since then, Garrett has been a part of every service except one, running words, manning a video camera, and anything else technical that needs doing. I am more than eternally grateful for his opportunity to serve, but I can't help but wish that one or two Sundays a month he could be a participant in worship- sitting in a chair, on a row, beside his wife, as we worship together. I would love to have his arm around me as we share our Bible, listening to the Word as it is spoken to us. Instead, I usually prop against the back wall while he runs PowerPoint during the message. Again, I'm grateful for his chance to serve- that's what he's wanted since he moved down here when we got engaged. I just wish that we could be a "normal" church-going family, at least once every now and then.
The emotions spilled over yesterday unmercifully. My mom was on her way to the back parking lot to pick Saralynn and Mommy up since Daddy was in his truck and we all wouldn't fit. Saralynn began to cry once she realized she couldn't go with her Daddy, and looked at me with tears streaming, again. "I just want to ride with Daddy, that's all, Mommy." I couldn't stand it anymore. My almost-three-year-old had just said what my heart has been screaming. I had an armload of stuff and a child that was fighting me tooth and nail, just wanting to get back to her Daddy. Poor Mr. Lee holding the door for me must've thought I was a t-total fruitcake. Tears were free-flowing at this point, and all I could do was cry to anyone that was willing to listen, "I'm so tired of this. I just want us to be a family that goes to church and leaves church, hand in hand, for once." Other people in leadership roles with the new service have their rotation weeks, and have been able to step down from some responsibilities in some cases. I myself had a role as the Cafe Coordinator, having to be there each week, too, which also was exhausting. I must admit that I'm enjoying my time "off", too, but long for some time off for my husband.
My attitude about the whole thing pretty much stunk up the house, but when you have an exhausted, frustrated pregnant woman doing all she can to be both parents on a day that's "designed" to be a family day, I was doing all I could do. Nothing says that the Christian life is pretty all the time, and mine was anything but yesterday. I shared some of my frustration with Garrett, but because our Sunday afternoons seem to consist of this sort of thing pretty often lately, I didn't share it all. Also, in the interest of transparency, I must confess that while Garrett is gifted and called to service, so am I, and I have been increasingly frustrated the past few months because I find myself unable to serve. I surrendered my life to the work of Jesus through worship-leading when I was in the 6th grade, and have had ample opportunity to participate in it since. That is until the new service started. I was hoping, since I felt a rising in my soul to be a part of it, to help lead in our new setting, but that hasn't come about yet. I was blessed with the opportunity to sing a special music in December, but that's been it so far, and I have to be COMPLETELY honest and say that it has me downtrodden. If I didn't have such a yearning and a feeling that leading/singing is what I'm supposed to do I don't think it would bother me so much. It's not so much a "what I WANT to do" as it is a "what I'm MEANT/CALLED to do", and it's frustrating to sit and wait. There. I said it. Maybe one day.
After naptime yesterday for all of us (ok, I was so messed up I couldn't sleep, so I laid there), we went outside to paint. Painting is therapeutic for me. Saralynn LOVES to paint with me, and I enjoy it, too. She asked Garrett to paint, and though he resisted at first, he finally gave in and painted a peach rectangle on a piece of paper. His comment? "I try really hard to be creative, but I just can't be." Little does he know what he spoke to me through that painting. First of all, he took the time to sit on the uncomfortable driveway and get eaten by mosquitoes, painting with his biggest, #1 fan. I promise you she'll remember those times later in life, and I know this Mommy won't forget it any time soon, either. I kept that painting, and it will hang somewhere. Its color was calm and inviting, much like our time outside together yesterday. It covered the blah, white paper with a new, vibrant color, that signified newness to me. It showed change. It was a rectangle- two long sides, two short sides. The long sides make up the long parts of the week, the short sides the weekends. And where the two connect? A corner. Pointy sometimes, yet in his case, a bit rounded-off. So, what? It began to show me that sometimes the pretty and ugly parts of life bang together to make rough, pointy edges, and other times they make more fluid, not-so-abrasive intersections. This was a real breakthrough for me. I just sat and stared at the painting for a minute. Most of mine have a theme- polka dots or stripes. Saralynn's are bursts of color that she excitedly drags her brush through, making new beautiful color combinations. His was quiet, smooth, calm. And that's what he is to me when I get all fruitcakey- he's my calm. That's not always the case- actually, it's usually the other way around- I'm the calm to his tornado, but I'm thankful for his calm in the midst of my storms. I just wish they didn't come so frequently and un-forecasted these days...
Fast forward to sometime around 5 AM this morning: my dream/visit with Jesus. Garrett got up and got ready before leaving about 4:50 for work. He scared the life out of me when he told me he was leaving, but I saw 4:54 on the clock, so I know the dream was after that and before 6:00, when my own alarm went off. NOTE: As with any dream, there are some "holes" in it that just don't make sense, so work with me, ok? I dreamed that, somehow, I was faced with my own mortality in one day. In my dream, Garrett is a doctor. (How's that for something better than flipping chicken?) I dreamed that I was going to be an organ donor. Somehow, and this is one of the holes, I must've been in some sort of accident or something, but that particular day was the day I was going to donate my organs. There was a deadline of when the donation would happen, though I didn't know when it was. Garrett did, though, because he was the doctor that would harvest my organs. Somehow, again, not sure about all the details, I was able to go about my life that day, saying goodbyes, living life, pretty much doing whatever I wanted to do, but all the while knowing I would not live to see tomorrow. I didn't have any kids in my dream, which is the only thing that makes it bearable, but I was married to Garrett, and spent the day mostly with him. I had somehow made peace with my parents and my brother, because we all went on with the day- not as if nothing was wrong, but as if all was ok. The turning point for me during the dream was at one point when Garrett and I were driving. We were completely silent (eerily like some points of our day yesterday had been). I looked at the clock, asked when we had to be in surgery, and he told me it didn't matter. I was getting apprehensive, and he said to me "the only thing that's important right now is you living out your life the way it was meant to be lived." Obscure, anyone? But, in that moment, I realized something- Jesus was talking to me. I was in the backseat of the car in my dream, and Garrett was driving. In the dream, Garrett was Jesus. He showed me that He was in control- and my place was in the back. He also showed me that it's not my place to try and change my husband or his circumstances. So what if he flips chicken? If that's what makes him happy, then so be it. Yes, there's more to life. Yes, he's better than that- in my eyes and in the eyes of His creator, but for now, for this season, he's meant to flip chicken. Where were we headed on our drive? Don't know. What was I supposed to be doing? Not sure. Following, I guess. I was in the back, Garrett was in the front- taking care of me. I didn't know when "my time would come", but he did. And, the same is true now that I'm awake- I still don't know the path, why we're going where we're going, or when "my time will come", but I'm resting in the fact today that it's all the way it's supposed to be for now. I guess I'm supposed to be restless. Maybe it's the manifestation of something truly awesome in my life. I'm possibly supposed to be restless for my husband- in prayer for him and with him, but in a holy way, restless. Because I still want something more. And, you know what? I think that's ok. My attitude needs some tweaking, but I think wanting more is natural and necessary.
For those of you that are still with me, you deserve a fruit basket or a "You DID It" ribbon or something, but since I don't have those things, I just say "thank you" from a grateful heart. I can't say I'm fully changed, or that the ugliness is gone or will go away any time soon, or that I'm inspirationally ok with not helping lead or with the fact that I won't get to sit and experience church with my husband any time soon, but I'm intentionally praying for an open heart that is receptive to what Jesus is doing in me. Thank you for reading the ugliness that was my day yesterday and for praying me through when I have other ugly days. Ministry, regarless of its form, can be yucky. I've actively served in various ways before, but for some reason, this ministry season is the hardest to date. Maybe that just means there is something truly amazing coming.
And, that brings me to my thought for today: "Today is a new day".
I'll leave you with a scripture that has been EVERYWHERE since yesterday:
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
2 Corinthians 5:21
Trying to tell me something? :)
Intentionally Grateful for the chance to "spill it",
P.S. Speaking of Garrett and his desire to be the best he can be when it comes to all things technical, he's applied to attend a conference/seminar with a mentor in leadership that he found via the internet a month or so ago. This conference would be held over the course of four months via conference calls, teaching Garrett the ins and outs of creative worship planning, and he is so very excited about the prospect of being chosen to participate. There was an application process to go through, and the results of that process are supposed to be released this week, so please join us in praying that if it is God's will, Garrett is chosen to participate with Carlos. This would do so many different things for Garrett, for me, and for our church, on so many different levels. Maybe I can learn something, too, about sitting back and shutting up... Hmmm... Also, please pray for us as we retreat in a few weeks for our 5-year wedding anniversary. It's a much-needed (as if you couldn't tell from all the trash above) break from the every-day, and we're excited for waht could be our last trip as a couple before Baby #2 arrives. We're going to Wilmington, NC, to visit Garrett's A-#1 mentor in all things techy, as we visit their new church campus and experience Jesus with them. The last time we were there, we were still dating, and the church was meeting in an elementary school cafeteria. Now, we're married, and the church has its own huge, beautiful campus. I can't wait! (And on the subject of can't wait, we will find out sometime later this month whether Baby #2 is a girl or a boy- stay tuned!)