A lesson from peanut butter and jelly.

“Buddy, be patient. I’m almost done.” 

More whining. More impatient cries.

“Be patient. Trust me buddy, you wouldn’t want me to give you your lunch right now. It’s not ready. You’re going to want the whole thing.”

The words came out and quickly echoed back in my brain. They stuck to me like the peanut butter I was just beginning to spread across the slice of bread. 

I imagined handing my 18 month old a slab of peanut butter piled high on a slice of bread. Silliness. He may stop crying. He may even end up with his hunger satisfied. But he would miss something better. Not to mention the mess I would have to clean up.

I finished making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, choosing to ignore the cries and the tiny hands pulling on my shorts. I cut his sandwich into triangles just the way he likes it. I’m his mother. I know things like that. His hunger would now be met in a way that gave him joy with every bite. I saw the finished picture. He just needed to wait.

I now pictured myself as that 18 month old, whining and crying, wanting my desires met on my terms. I stamp my feet and pull at His hands, wondering why He is ignoring me.

But as I look at my little Jack with all the love and pleasure a mother could give, I have a deeper understanding of my Father’s love for me. He just wants to give me something better. He’s not withholding. He’s just completing what He started for me. Something that will truly satisfy. And He’s my Father. He knows exactly what that is. He’s creating something that will give me joy with every bite. 

I just need to wait. 

Control vs. Freedom

I have two kids now. And one of them is a two year old. There are a couple of implications from these facts.

#1. I am getting less sleep (not an important point for this post but one that is on my mind nonetheless :))
#2. My two year old is testing me much more in this new season
#3. God is teaching me SO many things about His relationship with me

Here’s an example.

I love Kate dearly. And many times I admire and love her fierce independence. But her need for control over EVERY situation utterly exhausts me. I cannot handle being told where to sit, how to hold a book and what the name of that animal is even though it is clearly a tiger and not a lion.

And although it is irritating for myself, I mostly feel sad for her. While she was concerned with how mommy held the book, she missed out on the chance to be caught up in the story. And while she planned ahead whether mommy or daddy put her into her car seat, she killed the anticipation and excitement of a trip to the park.  And when she refused that hug, she missed out on a moment of love from her daddy.

One day I was venting to God. I was tired of having to address this issue over and over and over again with Kate. “God, why can’t she just relax? Why can’t she enjoy the moment? Why can’t she just be content? Why can’t she let us love her like we want to? Why can’t she lighten up?”

And he gently replied, like He always does…

“Why can’t you?”

Oh the parallels of parenting. It was a much-needed conviction.

I need to relax and let go. I need to lighten up and have fun. I need to let Him love me like He wants to.

Thanks for the reminder, Jesus.

A bit of our journey

I’m taking the lazy route. Andrew posted this a while back on his blog, and I’m stealing it. I’ve been a bit paralyzed to summarize God’s hand in our lives throughout the past year and a half. So I’ll let Andrew do the work. Click here to see what’s been going on.

Putting on my glasses

This year I got glasses. Andrew has told me for over 2 years that I need them. But I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to take the time to go to the doctor and investigate the problem. Why? Because I thought I was completely fine. I truly thought my eyes were perfect. And then one day I gave in. I decided to make the call. Sure enough, I have needed glasses for years.

The moment I put my glasses on, I literally squealed at the lady behind the counter. It was unbelievable the things I could see. For the first time, I realized how bad my eyes were and how desperately I needed the help of glasses.

And throughout this past year, God has given me another pair of glasses. He has stripped away so many things in my life, and it has forced me to see clearer than I ever have before. There’s not all that junk hiding my view anymore. He’s taken away the safety and security I’ve hidden behind. The stuff that made me think I was OK. He had to get me to the point where I was ready to admit that I’m really not OK. I really might have a problem. I’ve seen some things about myself this past year. And they aren’t very pretty.

Halfway through writing this, I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t write another negative post. Maybe I should write about the amazing grace of God throughout this journey.” And then I realized, that’s exactly what this is. You have to look deep sometimes, put on your glasses and see the really hideous stuff that lies within, to realize how truly amazing God’s grace is.

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”- Luke 7:47. And I want to love much. So here’s to confessing my depravity in hopes that God’s great forgiveness produces an authentic and true love.

1. I am selfish. Very selfish. I want things to go my way. I want things to be easy.
2. I don’t care enough about other people. I want to love like Jesus does. But I fail quite often.
3. I trust in myself a lot more than I trust in God. To surrender means I give up EVERYTHING, including control.
4. I care way too much about what other people think.
5. I’m sometimes afraid that I’m going to miss what we’re “giving up”… that I’m not going to be as happy without those things.

– Those are just the tip of the iceberg. The flesh goes deep. And the longer you wear your glasses, the more details you’ll see: the dirt, the dust, the grime you never noticed before.

But here’s the Gospel:
Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” and Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

God’s love has been so real, so deep and so faithful to me. I can’t believe He’s chosen me. Asked me to trust Him with everything. Because I am far from deserving. It’s grace beyond reason. The glasses He gave me were more than worth admitting I might have a problem. Yes, I can see the ugliness inside of me but the grace of God is more clear and sharp in my vision than ever before.

Failure.

Has God ever called you to something that scares you beyond belief? I mean, shakes you to the core. Where it’s all on the line. There’s no going back.

That’s where I am.

My biggest fear has never been heights. Or snakes. Or death. Or giant bugs. Or drowning. I fear all of those things. But they only peek around the corner every once in a while.

My true, faithful, constant, life-long companion has always been my fear of failure. He’s followed me everywhere.

I’m competitive. I’m driven. I’m self-sufficient. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist. I’ve excelled in school. In sports. In work. In relationships. But the root of these seemingly admirable qualities? My scary friend: failure.

I’m always trying to run from him. Or hide from him. Or just cover him up when I can’t quite seem to get away from him. And trust me, there are lots of options when choosing a cover: I can throw virtue over him. Or responsibility. Or commitment. Or duty. Over the years, I’ve become quite good at disguising my loyal friend.

But God decided He had other plans for my reliable sidekick. He set him smack-dab in front of me. And now, for the first time, we’re eye to eye, me and my fear of failure. I’ve never been this close to him before. This is the first time I’ve noticed how ugly he is. From far away he’s always looked relatively attractive and put together. Up close, I can see the grossness.

I am completely vulnerable, completely dependent and completely scared to death to look him in the eye. But here we stand.

All I can do is step closer. One foot at a time.

Good News

During my quiet time yesterday, I felt God stirring my heart to share the Gospel with someone that’s been on my mind for months. I asked the Lord to give me the words and the moment to share His good news. And then I stopped. Those two simple words rang in my head… Good…. News. And I had to ask myself this question, “What is the good news?” For the first time (I’m ashamed to say), I set out to answer this question for myself. What does the Gospel really look like? If someone asked me point blank why they should follow Jesus, what would my answer be? I sat and thought for a while and out came my unorganized clutter of words  as an attempt to describe the amazing good news that Jesus offers.

It’s not just safety from hell. It’s a relationship with our Creator that fills every void of purpose in our life. It’s restoration of life past, freedom to live now and a joyful expectation of a forever with our Father. It’s the removal of our sin, the ugliness inside of us we can’t escape on our own. It’s the opportunity to trust fully: without fear, without disappointment. It’s the unconditional, full, complete love our hearts have always longed for. It’s Truth opening our eyes to see everything is about Him and not us. There is such release in that. Every longing, every desire, every failure, every success, every heartbreak, every joy, every fear, every ounce of feeling we’ve ever experienced finds its source and purpose in Jesus. We are satisfied fully in Him alone. He makes our lack whole.

There is so much more. That’s a pitiful attempt to package the sweet good news our Savior offers.