Sunday morning, as I was giving the message, I had a thought: “You have got to pull yourself together.” This sort of inner dialogue is not unusual. In fact, it’s not even that unusual to have them during the service. I prepare the way I do so that I can be sensitive to any promptings, instead of hyper-focusing on what I’ve said and what I have to say next. But this week, the “dialogue” was more like a scolding. And the voice in my head was absolutely right. I was apart, my heart felt muddy, confused, a little restless, distracted, and needed to be pulled back together.
Now, my history is one where I get moving down a path like this that inevitably leads to a deep freezing pool of self-loathing, telling myself I’m a mess, totally undisciplined, and I’ll never become anything other than who and what I am right now. So I overreact wildly. To address a perceived lack of time in the Scriptures, I’ll commit to an hour every morning, than an hour every afternoon, followed by a hour or 2 of meditation on what I’ve read. Or if I feel rotten, puffy, lethargic, and the number on the scale keeps climbing (which is, incidentally, what is happening the last few weeks), then I’ll decide to completely cut out all sugar, desserts, eliminate all snacks and maybe a meal, then increase my workout times from an hour to 3. And on and on.
For a few weeks, there has been one emergency after another dictating my schedule and attention. Instead of sheep, I’m counting phone calls and to-do items, and not surprisingly wake with a headache. Then, when people do and say the things that people say and do – we are the best, and we are the worst, right? – I feel a certain type of way, and all of that easily spills over into Sunday mornings until the Spirit chastises me and tells me to get it together, man. So naturally, I have the automatic reactive overdrive and decide all of the things I need to do to “get it together.”
I really love the creamed pearl tapioca pudding at Laudermilch’s, and this insanity got so bad that part of all the new me silliness was a life without creamed pearl tapioca. Insanity.
Like I said, this has been my history. And Jesus has already began the New Me transformation and will see it through (it says that in Philippians, and I believe it), so the first thing I do now is to turn my phone off and sit down to pray with my Bible. Where to start to get a word that would make sense of any of this, my fuzzy spinning head and heart, and bring the world outside into some semblance of focus? Just continue, is what we did. I’m working through the Psalms, so my reading began with Psalm 70 and, in verse 4, “But may all who search for You be filled with love and gladness.” I’m searching and would really appreciate being filled, that’s a good beginning.
Then I got to 74 and will spare you the pages and pages of journaling, but 74 is about getting off track, wrapped up in other circumstances, other people, unimportant questions, distracted wonderings, and self-pity. In other words, apparently I wrote it. It says somebody named Asaph did, but I’m not too sure. (Incidentally, there aren’t enough Asaph’s in the world anymore.)
(V.21-23) “Then I realized how bitter I had become..I was so foolish and ignorant…I must have seemed like a senseless animal…” Can we relate to those words or what?
But then, “Yet I still belong to You, You are holding my right hand. You will keep on guiding me, leading me…”
See, we create our lives, holding His hand, intentionally. Sometimes the decisions we make are bad ones, but other times, they’re not, and we simply need to be patient, take a breath and chill out for a minute. Getting it together doesn’t have to mean a wrecking ball – maybe it does – but it might just mean counting to 10. A knee-jerk reaction is rarely helpful or wise.
But this all hinges on the intentionality of creation. If we choose to be blown about by home repairs, unexpected bills and interpersonal friction, then we are prisoners of The Here and Now and The Here and Now gets the keys to who we are and will be.
It’s entirely possible that this post is messy and hard to follow, and that’s ok. I am messy and so are you, probably. And this beautiful process is messy and often hard to follow, with lots of stops and starts. The point is that we engage with us (our hearts, relationships, everything that matters) and figure out the weight of things, before we get stressed by the inevitable tension of living great, authentic lives. Then we don’t have to overreact, set unrealistic demands on ourselves, or even consider giving up that fantastic tapioca ever again