I got shingles over the Easter break.
I totally believe Elisabeth Elliot – that we’re not laid aside by illness, but called aside for stillness – but I didn’t get the stillness memo the first time so the shingles reared its painful head for round two.
A stress-related illness is humbling evidence that I don’t trust God with, say, the tension of publisher deadlines and other broken bits of ordinary life. So in the stillness (kind of), three big Doing Words circled and landed.
I’m addressing them all to me. I think they could be game-changers.
Rebel against the martyrdom culture that wears busyness like a badge of honour. Thinly masked self-pity is like bad makeup. It makes me look old. And Paul said that as someone who loves Jesus, I should be getting younger and younger. For real.
Rebel against bad language. There are lots of very raw, very real reasons to be stressed. There are also lots of ways I talk myself into it. I reiterate my anxiety and rehearse my complaints until my language shapes me and I start to live as frenetically as I describe myself to be.
Rebel against false guilt, which says I’m a slacker because surely I’m not doing or being or carrying as much as so many others. (Except, no one’s even watching my life all that closely. Only God. Would I feel as guilty – or be as stressed – if I really lived for an audience of One?)
Rebel against trudging forward in exhausted half-steps because resting is so lame. Truth is? Resting feels like three steps back, but it may give me a dozen strides forward. And I’ll do whatever it takes – heck, I’ll even rest! – to be a better version of me.
C.S. Lewis described believers as ‘glorious ruins.’
Wrecked, damaged, fickle and flawed. But loved, redeemed and renewed, with eternity in our hearts. Despite our roofless walls and crumbling arches, we possess an unearthly, incongruent beauty, because of how the light shines through the cracks in our capacity.
I need to learn to balance the earthly and the eternal. The limitless God who spoke out light and split the sea lives in limited me. His infinite creativity, infinite love, dwells in my finite heart and mind.
It is what it is, and what it is, is a mystery.
There isn’t ever a day when I have it all together. But I have Him, and that makes an altogether beautiful difference.
In her book, Breaking Busy, Alli Worthington writes:
When God created us, he created us with a limitless capacity to love others and a limitless ability to stretch our talents to be used for his glory. He also created us with a body that needs rest, and he placed us in a universe that has a limited number of hours in each day. When we operate under the belief that we can do it all, we’re forgetting how God wants us to rely on him. We’re adding so much extra ‘noise’ to our lives that we can’t hear his voice speaking our true calling. (page 37)
After hockey practice this week, Cameron (visually impaired) told me some of the boys don’t want him on their team, ‘because then they will definitely lose the match.’ He was more matter-of-fact than indignant, and I was grateful that he loosened his words right there in the school car park, instead of leaving them tightly heart-wedged.
He said, ‘I guess I don’t really blame them, ‘cause I do kind of suck.’
I told him he was super brave even to try, and that we’re more concerned about his heart than his hockey. I want him to know that God doesn’t put up with him or me or any of us out of pity, irritation or obligation, but that He reaches out and picks us for the team and no one can kick us off.
So much stress thaws out warm when we accept that we’re accepted. When we remember that we’re not loved because we’re worthy; we’re worthy because we’re loved.
. . .
(Please share this if it helped. Eek. Plenty people are stressed.)
Have a good week. There is always hope.
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Featured image photo credit: Tanya Hurley