I’d tell her her stuff makes me laugh as hard as the first time I saw Anchorman (really hard, BTW). I’d tell her how I just finished her latest book, Church of the Small Things, and cried the last two chapters like all three of my babies because it was like she was speaking to my soul. I’d try not to get too deep on our first encounter, but casually insert that I too struggle with feeling like I’m not doing enough and not making a big enough impact. I’d tell her I also have “all these feelings of being inadequate and questioning why things happen the way they do and wondering why I wasn’t good enough for this or that.” I’d tell her her words mattered to me.
I’m just overwhelmed, I finally squeak out. Clark and I got into a fight last night. About floors. I don’t think we can afford new floors in the new house, but he thinks we can. And watching our savings account disappear makes me feel all kinds of out of control. I like having a cushion. I think it’s an irresponsible decision, and all I want right now is to feel stable. In case you haven’t noticed, I am feeling unstable.
I laugh, but it comes out more like a bark. I make a mental note to google “How to Cry Adorably” when I get home.
We talk for a while. They ask questions and hold my hand. They pray over me. And then they give me the best marriage advice I’ve ever received.
You haven’t felt God much in your life yet. You’ve heard countless sermons and been to boat-loads of Christian camps. You’ve gone on a couple of mission trips that involved you and your giggling friends passing buckets of mud to boys you had crushes on in the mornings and playing soccer with the locals in the evenings. You’ve even cautiously raised your hands up in the air while worshiping once or twice.
But if I asked you to pinpoint one time in your life in which you genuinely felt God’s presence, a moment that proved his real-ness to you, well, trust me… You’ve got nothin’.
I was overwhelmed. I had three tiny people who required all of me and left trails of you-name-it wherever they went. We were renting a 2,100 square foot house that was filled to the brim with stuff, most of which I didn’t even like.
My house was decorated with hand-me-downs from other relatives, dead or alive, and things I’d registered for pre-Pinterest and therefore pre-I-know-what-I-like-and-how-I-want-it-to-look. And I was DROWNING in housework even though my mom and MIL, God bless them forever and ever amen, paid for my house to be cleaned once a month (if you’re in need of a baby shower gift idea, that’d be the one).
So after reading a few books*, watching a few documentaries**, and sitting at the feet of friends a lot more like Jesus than me, I began feeling pulled toward SIMPLE.
I’d watch him walk out the door (to provide for our family … or whatever) and crave that separation, that solitude, that freedom for just one day.
And to some extent, that feeling is natural, okay even.
But when missing my freedom turned into resenting my husband for his, when I began begrudging him for a choice I had made, when envy began to cast shadows on my joy, that’s when this verse jerked me into the light: Love Does Not Envy.
And now I know, the moment you believe your marriage is immune to big problems is the exact moment it becomes vulnerable to big problems.
I was convinced we would never struggle.
Then all of a sudden, there we were, two-freaking-years into this thing and practically underwater.
This year, I pray that I may be content in the stable. That I may find beauty in the meekness of a humble manger and not try to manufacture it everywhere else. Jesus is easily found in spaces untouched by the desire to put our own greatness on display. I have to be careful not to hide him.