Ever cleaned up vomit?
Absolutely disgusting, and messy and stinky, and bits of chunks of stuff and pieces.... vomit is a big giant mess.
I am about to vomit. Vomit a big, stinky, messy pile, full of all kinds of stuff and pieces. Be warned. It's messy, it's gross, it's embarrassing and shameful, but I am ready to get the gross mess out and cleaned up.
I am not so happy that I spent months and months of my time in the summer with a daughter who hated every part of the recovery process of her hip replacement surgery.
I am not so happy that finances are ALWAYS tight. I've read the Dave Ramsey books (and think they have great advice) but honestly I feel like burning mine. No matter what it can't account for the overwhelming medical needs that come up in this house. The well, the water softener, the septic, the crappy cars with 200K miles, the bonuses that don't pan out, the kids we keep adding, a van door that falls off while driving, a computer that gets hacked and our pictures are held for ransom. We have our debt paid off, we have emergency funds, we have 8 of us in a 1960's ranch that's about 1750sqft, we don't eat out, and still finances are tight.
I am not so happy about the disabilities we deal with. I am tired of learning delays and ADHD, and brain issues, and Cerebral Palsy and Arthrogryposis and hearing loss and vision loss and food issues.
I am tired of 13 therapy appointments every single week. It leaves no room for anything else.
I am not happy with our house. Ten years ago Kenney and I dreamed a dream about a house and property and a garden. I remember the first property and house we checked out in Lowell. I am embarrassed when I look at our original plans, but now, ten years later, there seems to be nothing left of the original dreams. We've had 8 or 9 different architects, about 50 revisions, 7 different prints drawn up and now we have arrived at this. No addition. No more square footage. No more loft or second story or pretty ceilings. No extra rooms, just a girls room, a boys room and our room. And to top it all off, most all of the work has to be done by us. (Because we both just have so much extra time on our hands.)
I don't want to deal with another hip replacement surgery for my daughter, the date is set for January 5th, and I'm angry we've got to do it all over again.
I am tired of my only door to the outside looking like this.
Tired of wiping shoes. Even more tired of the muddy mess the three dogs are. Most tired of our little long-haired white schizophrenic dog... in the mud then corralling her to wipe her down lest the couch and few pieces of not destroyed furniture become destroyed... yet its futile.
I am not so happy with the cars we drive. A crappy 4-cylinder PT cruiser with 200K miles on it and a 15 passenger rust bucket with no horn, turn signals that do not work below 45 degrees, a side door that fell off and currently can't be open or closed. (Did I mention it was a prison vehicle, so most enjoyable about the van is the cut outs that can still be seen around the windows for the bars and the floor anchors to hold handcuffed prisoners?)
I am tired of people that burn me out. Tired of hearing words that tear down. Tired of whispers behind my back. Tired of pretend and fake. Tired of people (whom I love) not understanding or caring.
I am tired of tomorrow's. Tired of a life that isn't getting any easier. I don't want to give up my dreams. Kenney and I dreamed dreams of the future. Dreams of our alone time when the kids are all grown up and moved away. Dreams of vacations and a life lived however we choose. Dreams of date nights whenever we wanted, no more scheduling and trying to make it work the 3 or 4 times a year we do now. The harsh reality is we have kids that may forever be in our care. No growing up and moving out.
I am mad Advent had to look like this. Stuff everywhere. Holes in the wall, drywall dust covering everything. No place to put all our decorations out.
Frustrated that Christmas morning was at our kitchen table because the living room was destroyed with construction work. Frustrated the kids didn't get a "magical day" as a matter of fact some of them woke up crabby and some of them cried.
I think its not fair that Kenney gets to go on a guys vacation. A vacation that is exactly one day after we get home from the hospital with Charlotte's surgery. A vacation that couldn't possibly be timed any worse.
I am tired of a hard marriage. Tired of the few (and I mean few, as in two or three) date nights we have get ruined. Tired of laying down at night beyond exhausted. Tired of all conversations being rushed and having to be started, discussed and finished in 2.3 minutes. (Or some child will need to go potty-remember and since they can't all go on their own, and because of physical issues, they can't all hold it very well, and Lord knows we don't want to deal with that mess!) Tired of my husband coming home to such a mess, a mess of a house, messes with the kids, and there I stand when he walks in the front door, looking like I'd just been hit by a truck because I really was hit by a truck called this life.
Here's the big one- the one that keeps me up at night and makes me cry day after day- the one that makes me sick to think about- the one that I should be happy about, but can't seem to get happy about, the one that I am ashamed and embarrassed to even talk about- the one that feelings crash right on into my mind, without warning, and there I am, having thought the thoughts and felt the feelings, and have no idea what to do with it all. Surprise...Baby #7 is due in May.
I can't imagine my life getting any harder. I just can't. It is just so very hard already. A baby was NOT part of the plan.
So there you have it.... I just threw up all over the internet. I started writing this all down back in early November, but have been dealing with all these issues for some months now.
This vomit has been sitting for awhile, and in these last months I've had some time to clean a bit up, and figure some stuff out. Actually there have been a billion thoughts I've had on all of this vomit. Thoughts on fighting for joy, practical things- like getting good sleep (ha!) and spending more time in God's word. Thoughts on complaining and having a pity party. I've been thinking about the things people say to me, and thinking about words, and how very important what we say matters. I've thought a lot about the heart, my heart in particular. *Side note- about the best analogy I've ever heard regarding the heart Paul Tripp shares it here- about taking a cap off of a water bottle, shaking the bottle, then asking, why did water come out of the bottle? and of course the generic response is "because you shook the bottle" but, the real answer is, water came out of the bottle because water was in the bottle. So all this stress, and problems and issues has just revealed more and more the big issues.... what is inside the bottle (my heart) which is a whole lot of sin.
And through these last five months the Holy Spirit has been alive and nursing me back to health. I read a word today used to describe the Holy Spirit “Remembrancer” - and I love it. It was coined by Charles Wesley (the great Hymn writer) and it's meaning is one who causes to remember. Because, after all, the Holy Spirit was there, was there when Jesus died, and He saw it happen, and He is alive in me, and He can help me remember what the cross means.
Slowly, over the last 5 months the Holy Spirit, the great Remembrancer has been alive in me, and whispering truth, truth about what He saw happen on the cross and what the Gospel is, and what it means for me, and slowly He has caused me to remember the Gospel.
While there is so much more that I could type but in the short amount of time I have I'll never get there, so two things for now that I keep coming back to. People/Relationships and Brokenness and Suffering.
One day, a couple of years ago, Tommy brought home from church a little colored cross with a memory verse on it, from Sunday school. It still sits, taped to the back door in my kitchen.
Romans 5:8 " but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
It's one of the most in-comprehensible verses I have ever read, I still pass by it in amazement. I find myself asking questions, like "What does this mean for my life?" I would imagine there have been millions of sermons, books written and blogs typed, just on this verse alone, because of the infinite complexity and depth of what just this verse means. One thought of the many on this verse is: Does this verse change how I relate to others?
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to share the life story God has written for me thus far to a group of people. (some would call it a testimony) I shared my story and some others shared theirs too. At the end I stood there, while people chatted with all the other people, and I sat at a table alone. I felt so horrible, so exposed and shameful. You see my story doesn't exactly end on a clean and pretty note, and it's full of some embarrassing disgusting maybe a bit more crazy (for lack of a better term) details. And it seemed most people didn't know what to do with my story.
I thought about this for a long while, and I think days later I remember saying to Kenney, I get it, people don't like messy people. I- and I would guess most others too- despise brokenness.
I, and all of humanity is trying to clean up our and other people's messes and brokenness. I want friends with good marriages and clean houses. I want friends who aren't suffering, who aren't going through cancer, who aren't in jail, no single parents, no traumatized kids, no sleepless nights, no problems. If, by chance there is a problem, I would prefer it have been in the past. I love "good" testimonies, but I want the last chapter of the book. I want to know how it all ends. I want all the problems fixed and everything wrapped in pretty shiny paper with a perfect bow on top. Even worse, if I have these people in my life, I find myself doing everything I can to "fix" whatever is wrong. I want to change people..... I almost make it my mission, to change them, rid them of suffering and sin and brokenness and sadness.
As a wonderful friend wrote 10 months after her sweet daughter went to be with Jesus:
(you can click on the text to read her story)
We have to stop trying to push people past their pain and heartache. It's part of who they are now, and you're letting them know they're not good enough anymore…not if they have the nerve to bring their baggage with them. You're basically saying, "I'm good with part of you…the part that doesn't make me uncomfortable…but I don't really want to be around that other part. It makes me too sad. I don't like not knowing what to say, so could you stop talking about your sadness. I'll feel better then."
Oh the truth in that statement that I am so guilty of myself. I remember when we lost our 16 week old little baby. (I wrote some of those thoughts here.) I remember how it felt and how some people just didn't know what to say, so they said things that didn't help and things that hurt.
I remember I found myself arguing with God. And these last months I have done the same. Today, as a Christian, I gave myself permission to argue with God. To get some of the "vomit" out. After all, our God is a big, big God, much bigger than my arguments and whining, and He can take it and redeem it and change me and use me.
On a side note....The Psalms are FILLED with it.
Why, Lord, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help!
Please listen and answer me,
for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.
I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more
Here is the thing- people are suffering. This world is broken and suffering. In the next world, there will be no more suffering, it isn't normal, it isn't part of the perfect world, suffering is because we live in a fallen broken world.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4
But, we have a faith that embraces suffering. We have a Jesus who suffered and was tempted in everything and yet He didn't sin. All our pain all our sadness.. ALL. OF. IT was laid on Him. He is a God who knows suffering, and willingly embraced it all. And because He is Emmanuel, God with us, He is right here, embracing my suffering with me.
The below video is an awesome conversation between some of my favorite pastors on what to say and not say to someone who is suffering. I myself have been guilty of saying so much of what doesn't help. Telling people in the nicest way possible to get over it, to get up and get back to the mandatory happiness Christianity requires. I have compared people's sadness and suffering to others, telling them what they are going through isn't that bad or could be worse. I have experienced how it feels, especially lately, to be treated like this, and I have been on the other end, dishing out my own version of "get over it."
That brings me back to my verse in Romans. The verse about how Jesus died for me, loved me when I was a broken messy sinner. Do I love others while they are broken messy sinners, or do I require them to first change, first clean up themselves and their sin, and then they are welcome in my presence?
Which brings me to my last thought for the moment. Friendship. Through all of this- through my mess, through my whining and complaining, through my hurts and pains, through the times marriage hasn't been easy, through the times parenting hasn't been easy, to the friends who heard me say horrible things to my kids, things because adoption is so very hard, trauma is so very hard, disabilities are so very hard, to the friends I don't return phone calls, and take months to respond to (and some I haven't even responded) I am a mess and they heard me, saw me and didn't turn away. They didn't wave their high and mighty flag and tell me what a horrible parent I am, they didn't call their friends or family to talk about how I am mean and mistreating my kids. They didn't whisper that my marriage is a mess behind my back. They sat there with me. They called me and loved me. They let me sit at their table and eat bagels and copious amounts of carbs with them while my children ran around and destroyed their house and they listened and embraced me. They didn't try and fix me. They picked apples with me. They brought me a bottle of wine. They prayed for me. They sent me a text or email every now and then and just told me they cared. They called me back when I hung up the phone on them. They emailed me. They came into my house, into my mess and didn't flinch and didn't back off. They loved me. They didn't try and fix it all. The reality of it is they know they can't. They show me Jesus by eating with me, by sitting at my messy table. They put their children on the floor and let them get covered in dog hair, cause Lord knows I haven't vacuumed in forever, and sit with me and listen.
The thing about these friends is they are plain and simple lovers of Jesus and they get His marvelous gift of grace. They get it. And lest the world think we do, we don't all meet together weekly for bible study. We are not one big group of friends. Some of them I rarely see. Some of them we text often, others it's weeks and months before we get together. Some of them I spend almost every Sunday with, and some of them I will never share a meal with. Some we talk all the time and some I barely talk to. As a matter of fact, I have an email from one of my friends that is now almost 4 months old, and I still haven't responded to her. But when I do, I know she'll embrace me with open arms... she loves me. She loves me with all my mess and baggage and brokenness.
That's what I am taking away from this today. What loving people like Jesus means. I want to love people like that, because I have been loved first by my heavenly Father like that, and second by an amazing amount of brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you knocked on my door today- there is no bow on the package. It's messy here. I am tired of taking care of my little girl after her second major surgery. I am angry my husband went on a ski trip in the midst of this. I am in denial about this little munchkin in my womb and I don't want to be tired one more day. I am dreading therapy this next week. But if you knocked on my door today- we would share the most glorious cup of coffee from the most wonderful coffee shop in Bridgeport (if coffee was your thing.) I'd show you a sample of reclaimed lumber from an old tobacco mill that I want to floor the living room with. We'd talk about delicious food and maybe look at some seed catalogs for the garden (if that was your thing.) We'd talk about this gloriously messy life. We'd share about brokenness and beauty.
Right now, that is how God is using my brokenness. To show me good friends and show me how to be a good friend.