Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Midnight Ramblings on God

I haven't written in ages. Just over a month ago we moved. Just over 6 weeks ago I started a new job and a month ago a new area of responsibility was added. I have a one-year-old (14 months, really) and am pregnant (17 weeks this week!). Never, have I ever, been so overloaded with responsibility. And never, have I ever, felt loved like this. To be fair, the early days of Avie's life came very close, but I was even more desperate this time. 

It's quarter to midnight and I should be asleep. Avie will wake up between 6 and 7:30 (and sometimes decides the middle of the night is a better time to wake up). My pregnant body will wake me up to pee and wake me up just for fun. And yet, I stayed up reading a book that I could not put down - a book that reminded me of a bigger picture and a God who is with me. A God who answers my prayers and sends me community, not because my problems need solving, but because my heart needs to know He is real. 

The book is Jennifer Fulwiler's "Something other than God", which chronicles her journey from atheism to faith (catholicism). On most levels, our journeys to God are drastically different. Her struggle was intellectual. My struggle was selfishness.  Our ending points are slightly different - both end in faith in Jesus Christ, and yet mine lies with the protestant church and hers with the catholic church. But in both cases, we needed a powerful God to intervene - in our lives, in our minds, in our hearts. 

She writes about a moment near the end of her book after the decision for God had been made. They had recently moved, she had two small children and was pregnant with a third and was in their new home surrounded by boxes. A new catholic friend appears with a meal and disposable plates/etc, children in tow, to feed them and help her unpack. Her gut reaction was to say she was fine and didn't need help, but then she accepted and a beautiful moment was made. Badly needed help was received. That is the story of this move. From day one, I have wanted to be able to do it on my own, not to burden others. My gut reaction is we'll make it work. And yet people have offered and I have lowered my pride and accepted and I can barely tell you how thankful I am. From childcare, to help packing, to more childcare and help unpacking, from moving help and meals delivered we were covered by friends, by family, and by our church. 

My 50% of my new job started May 15th, the other 50% started June 1st. Our move was May 31st. Basically, it was insanity. On the day of the move as I stood at the entryway and told people where things went, directing traffic, I ended up having to sit as my pregnant, sore body could not stand. And people just showed up to help. Without being asked. Just as we were all getting tired (and still a full truck to unload) my Aunt and my teen cousins appeared after school time and saved the day. By the end of our first hours in the house, there were beds in both ours and Avie's bedrooms (thank you to my mother in law for that!), and we had a usable kitchen table. The following day the women's prayer group from church showed up to unpack in the kitchen and then two of the ladies stayed for another 2 hours (sending me to nap) and made it so we had a family room. Later that evening Paul's cousin and her kids came over to help and we had a dining room and living room. 

Then unpacking was on hold and I spent most of the next two weeks working - when I wasn't taking care of Avie or cooking, I was working. Much of the house stayed in boxes and we made do - and I worked. And our church was so gracious - I'm sure I missed things as I figured them out for the first time - but I also loved the work I was doing and received so much support from the church at large as I started this new position. So often you heard horror stories of working for churches - of demanding congregations and unsupportive pastors/managers - but my experience was one of support and grace, care and kindness. and praise! and thanks! Of kind words and accolades. What?! The big boss (the senior pastor, who also happens to be my uncle) took the time to call to make sure I wasn't feeling overwhelmed and find out how we could make sure I was feeling covered. 

I think of the years I ran from God. There were three main reasons; 1. I wanted to sin. I wanted to drink and have sex and not have to be responsible, 2. I wasn't sure God had power - if He did, why did I still  want to sin more than I wanted to follow Him? and 3. the people, the church. I had found it both loving and hurtful - at times supportive but deeply flawed and often cruel. I fear saying that because growing up there were many loving Christians in my life and I don't want to disqualify their impact in my life but there was also a real rejection and pain brought on by Christians in my life. I experienced just as much rejection and mockery in the church, as I did at school. Trying to find a church in my college years was difficult, and yet non-Christians invited me in with welcome arms - their world was much easier to get in to and they were excited to have me. Even when I first became a Christian (again) and I searched for a church, I was let down time and time again - which is how I ended up at ENV and knew it was my home because they welcomed me in. This community jumped on board when I decided to go into ministry supporting me with prayer and money and in many other ways. They supported me when I left ministry to go into the work force - I never felt less loved because I wasn't in that role anymore. They supported me in marriage, in pregnancy and showered me with love in the newborn days. People appearing with meals (I didn't cook for 2 months!) and arms to hold Avie. And here again, they showed up when I needed them. When I didn't know how to ask for this help, or think to ask for this help. They showed up. They showed me a huge part of who God is. 

Now, 5 weeks after our move, 7 weeks into my new job, and safely out of the first trimester (and it's exhaustion), I am on the other side. I feel like I can breathe. I no longer feel the same desperate need for help. But this has reminded me that I am not alone. Because even without desperation, life still gets overwhelming or tiring and this community is still here - helping, supporting, loving. 

I often think about God's gifts to us - salvation, of course, is huge. The biggest. Redemption - taking what was bad and making it new and good, is amazing. He gives us significance and security - because of Him I am secure (meaning my insecurity is no longer a driving force in EVERY.SINGLE.THING.I.DO) and gives me a purpose. And these things are huge, of course. But community, godly community - that is a gift and a half. To be loved by flawed, human people - and to get to love those same flawed, human people, this is a life that is lived. This is a gift. And because of who God is, and the call on our lives to love people - I get to love people outside of the church as well. I get to prioritize loving neighbors and friends and classmates. The world is open relationally and I love that. I get to engage in these relationships knowing I have love to give and love to receive. It's pretty cool. 
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