Waking Up Again

fog

Photo by NicholasBellPhoto on etsy.com.

My man and I went to a Tyrone Wells concert this weekend and one of his opening acts was this darling beauty, Emily Hearn. I’d never heard of her before – but, when she began singing, the rain we had run through, the tough week I’d had, the heaviness of my heart in that moment… all of it melted into her song, “Waking Up Again“:

It’s been so cold for so long now…
I don’t remember what the sun feels like.
We’re gettin’ old inside this house…
I don’t remember what the breeze feels like.
We gotta go… we gotta get back… gotta get our feet back on the ground.
We gotta go… we gotta get back… gotta get the spring back in our step again.

My heart. Right there in that dark theater, this sweet 24-year-old girl was singing my song. It didn’t matter that our souls are almost 20 years apart… what she was feeling that led to the song, and what I was feeling in my mommy skin. Sameness. Humanness. Connection.

(I ran out and bought both of her albums – and now I suggest you do, too.)

The reason her song hit me so hard is because I’ve been feeling this for a while… this no-spring-in-my-step, chilly, getting old kinda feeling. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s my scattered nature. Maybe it’s the white hair I found the other day, or the fact my exercise pants are fitting wayyyyy tighter than they did a few months ago. But, whatever it is, it’s had me kinda uninspired on the inside. Not sad or depressed – just ‘keep your head down and keep pushing forward’ kinda uninspired. I’ve had writers block, we’ve been eating a ton of burritos, and – well, if I’m really honest, I’ve been walking around and around and around in a fog.

Fog walking is a seasonal thing for me. I go through periods where I’m walking a defined path towards a goal – getting things done, creating new things, dreaming big dreams… but then there are periods like this one I’ve been in: wake up, make food, wash laundry, clean house, get kids, make food, rinse, repeat. It’s two steps forward, three steps back – day in, day out.

But then something shakes me like Emily’s song did… and, all of a sudden, I’m reminded of what the real problem is: ME.

I. Am. The. Problem. I beckon the fog with my whoa-is-me attitude and my ‘if-only’ internal dialog.

It’s hard to admit, especially when it’s so easy to place the blame for my heavy spirit on the ‘if-only’: if only I didn’t have so much to do, so many people pulling at me, so many obligations. If only my kids would listen better… if only I had more help… if only I wasn’t overlooked… if only we had more space… if only… if only… if only.

‘If only’ seems so safe and secure when it first steps in – but soon, the ‘if only’ thoughts have me bound up, beaten up, and broken into bits.

Thinking through all of this I remembered something Jesus said in one of his sermons: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Oh man, how convicting! When I dwell where I should – in Truth, beauty, loveliness, goodness, thankfulness – I feel lit up; I’m happy, ready to serve, not easily offended, and other-focued. But, when I choose to dwell where I shouldn’t – in self-centeredness and selfish thoughts about what I need, I want, I deserve – the darkness and the fog closes in… just like Jesus said would be the case.

I’m sharing this with you today because maybe you need to see you’re not the only one that feels like you’re in a fog… and maybe you need to hear the Truth I’ve heard: where I am is a result of my choices. If and when we choose Light – we will be filled with Light and be light; if and when we choose fog – the fog will gladly close in around us and strangle our joy in the darkness.

So, let’s choose to see Light and be freed from the darkness of the fog, okay? Let’s wake up again – right now, right here, right where we stand. Let’s wake up to His goodness… and let’s get the spring back in our steps and bask in the warmth of the His Light.

Submitting to the Plan

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“Father, create in me a clean heart… and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

I sat beside my 13 year old today as she got braces. We’ve been talking about this day for months – and, now, no more waiting: the process to straight teeth has begun.

We had a long talk with the orthodontist before today where we learned the transformation of her smile will happen without her even knowing it. He explained the wires and bands he’d apply would push and pull things into place – that it wouldn’t always be comfortable, but that she could be sure work was always in progress. He said what is crooked will be made straight; and what’s out of line will be brought into order. Slowly… slowly… slowly. He said he wouldn’t have to force anything to ‘right’ itself, but with the ever-so-slight pressure he’d apply over time, she’d eventually end up with ‘perfection’.

So at 7:35 this morning, my daughter walked into the office – willingly… a little giddy even. She sat in the chair – willingly. She opened her mouth – willingly. She gave in to the discomfort, dry lips, and multiple hands in her mouth – willingly. They didn’t have to hold her down, or bribe her, or scream at her, or pull rank. They simply said, if you want straight teeth, here’s what we have to do. And, since she wants straight teeth, she showed up and said ‘let’s do it’… willingly.

I was so impressed by her and her maturity. But, even more important, as I sat the foot of her chair with my mommy hand on the calf of her long, lean leg, I was impressed by a very simple truth I often strive to forget: sometimes I just have to submit to the plan.

HIS plan, not my plan. HIS way, not my way.

I know, I know. “Submission” is a dirty, loaded word these days. “Submission” brings up pictures of doormat women, and weak people, and images of everything most of us dread of being. But watching my daughter submit to the plan this morning wasn’t weakness – it was beautiful STRENGTH. She had a heart that understood the greater plan and she willingly said, “I’m in.” No one would call her a doormat because she submitted to the leading of the orthodontist; she wasn’t coerced or pushed around or belittled because she’s taking the opportunity to ‘perfect’ her teeth. To the contrary: by willingly submitting to the plan she can now sit back and allow the ever-slight-pressure to do it’s work for her good.

Just like my girl’s path to straight teeth began by her willingly sitting in the orthodontist’s chair, my path to ‘better’ – God’s ‘better’ – starts with my willingness to place myself before Him and His word. Yes, there will be troubles. Yet, in spite of the tests and trials He may use to make me uncomfortable and mold me through the process, if my heart is right and humbled before Him, I can know with certainty it will all work for good.

When we walked out of the office this morning, my girl had a Starbucks gift card in one hand and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other – two gifts to ‘celebrate’ the day. And me?  I walked out praying for courageous willingness to submit to the ‘treatment plan’ my Father’s laid out for me.  I admit it’s so hard sometimes… it’s hard to let go of me and MY way and submit to His spirit and HIS way – especially when things around me aren’t changing as fast as I want them to. But just as the orthodontist promised my girl his work will make a difference over time, my Father promises that, just as the heavens are higher than the earth, HIS ways are higher than my ways, HIS thoughts higher than my thoughts… and, His plan will make me more joyful, more loving, more forgiving, more patient, more kind, more powerful, more EVERYTHING than I could ever be without Him.