Remember my last post? You know that one where I bared my soul to the world? The one where I basically admitted that what happens inside my head is not always pretty or completely sane? Yea, the one with way too many feelings and emotions! Well, it seems as if that was just the beginning...
This past week my pastor (aka my boss) asked all of the senior staff to identify 1 - 2 characteristics that we wanted to work on in 2014. Well, I did not even have to pray about what the first one was going to be (throwback to the last post), it was definitely going to be humility. But, I had trouble coming up with a second charateristic (yea, I can read your thoughts.."good thing she is working on humility. She can't even come up with a second characteristic to work on." I hear ya!), and then this conversation happened:
Me: God, what characteristic do you want me to work on this next year?
Me: I'm sorry, what?
Me: Ok, but I am content. I mean I drive a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan with 140,000 miles and I don't even care!
God: That's not what I am talking about.
Me: Ok, then what are You talking about?
God: Being content with where you are, and with what I have given you to do. Being still in this very moment and finding the joy and blessing in the right now.
God: You know how you desire to give your kids not only what they need, but also what they want?
God: Well, imagine if you worked and sacrificed and then worked and sacrificed some more to give your child the perfect gift. One that they have always dreamed of and prayed for, one they have always wanted. And the moment they receive it they respond with, "Great! What's next? Oh yea and now can I have this thing over here!" How would you feel?
Me: I would be angry and disappointed at their ungrateful attitude!
God: Exactly. You are doing the same thing with the blessings I pour out to you. You don't know how to be content.
Jenny: No I don't. And, I am sorry and ashamed. Please forgive my ungrateful heart and teach me to be content.
OUCH, right? And as I have meditated and prayed through that conversation I have realized one very disturbing thing. I have treated my whole life like one giant checklist.
- Hear the gospel, respond and follow Christ. Check.
- Be the best Christ follow on the planet = read my Bible, pray, don’t drink, do drugs, don’t have sex and hang out with the wrong crowd. Check.
- Be a leader in my youth group. Check.
- Don't make the same mistakes my brothers did. Check.
- Commit my life to doing full time ministry. Check.
- Marry the perfect guy. Check.
- Have awesome kids. Check.
- Be a Kid’s Pastor. Check.
- Be a Kid’s Pastor at a mega church. Check.
- Help the orphaned, widowed and poor. Check.
And the list could go on. And while none of these are bad things, in fact some might not think there is anything wrong with being able to check off a list like this! The problem is Jesus is not a checklist. He has never been and never will be. Jesus Christ is a real living person, not something that can take up a line on a list or be contained in a check box. He is not something that can be checked off or moved on to. HE IS THE ONE, THE ONLY ONE, TO EVER CONQUER DEATH! And the fact that He calls us friend is beyond comprehension. So in efforts to always do for Him I have created an attitude of discontent, ungratefulness, and a lifestyle that communicates, "Jesus, I'm not sure that just You is enough. What else can you give me?"
And, the check list is not just effecting my relationship with Jesus. I see myself putting a checklist on my relationship with my husband and my kids. Pushing each of them to quickly move to the next thing; instead of stopping to celebrate, I push. Instead of allowing my 7 year old to swim just to swim, I am already thinking of how we need to be preparing for summer swim team so she can excel to the next level. SHE IS 7 Y'ALL! SHEESH! IT'S A DISEASE!
So what is the medicine? Well, sometimes you have to fight the disease with the disease. You have to inject yourself with the FLU to prevent the FLU. So, I am going to fight the one list with another list. I am going to go Ann Voskamp and One Thousand Gifts on this thing! I have started to take the most important things in my life right now and make a list of all the reasons why I am grateful for them. For example, instead of looking at my 2 year old and thinking, "I cant wait until he is potty trained, bathing himself and not loosing his ever loving mind every 5 seconds. " I have started making a list of all the reasons why I love being that little boy's mommy.
- Hearing him say a new word for the first time
- The fact that he still wants to be a close as possible to me when we read a book
- The fact that he still wants me to read him books
- Listening to him sing "Wesus lubs me"
- Hearing him make car noises when he is playing upstairs
- Cuddles on the couch
- That he has no opinion what so ever on what clothes I put on him
- Hearing him tell his daddy he wants his mommy…don't judge, every mother likes it!
- Him asking 500 times a day when he is going to go to "pamastics"
See even in just making this list, right now, I want to go get him out of bed and cuddle him! I won't - because after all it is just a list and I don't hate myself! But you get the point. It forces me to change my perspective and to enjoy the moment. And ultimately helps me to not miss out on what God has called me to right now, by only thinking about what He may be calling me to next! It allows the Holy Spirit to chip away at my heart of entitlement, rush and ungratefulness, in order to reveal a heart of joy, contentment and gratitude.