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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Got You

Kids.  They’re always adopting catchphrases, giving new meaning to regular words by organizing them just so, and repeating them over and over.  Whippersnappers.

Our kids have been saying ‘I got you’ for a while now.  Or, more specifically, ‘I gotchu.’  They say it to everyone: to their friends, their moms, even their friends’ moms.

When a person says ‘I got you’ it means I catch your drift.  I understand what you are saying.  Here, I’ll help you.  I’m here for you.  I’m on track with you.  It’s no big deal – I can do that for you.  I got you means all of these things, and is appropriate in many situations.

I sort of love it.

It’s a positive thing to say, I got you.  It emits a feeling of fellowship, company, togetherness that we all crave.  We all want to be seen and heard, to have someone stand with us or catch us when we fall, lending a hand when we need it.  To be helped.  There’s nothing worse than needing help and feeling too ashamed to ask for it, or having someone ask what they can do to help.  When a person says I got you it means don’t worry, I see what’s happening, and I know what to do.  We’re in this together.

It’s confidence.  It’s positive.  It’s community of the best kind – one person who gets you, who will catch you.

The trouble with I got you is that often, another person can’t catch us.  Often, there’s not anything another person can do to help. The world guarantees that there will be things in each of our lives that no one can help us with.  It’s bravado and false security, really, this I got you business.

I got you is when you want another cookie and your friend is already in the kitchen, or when you forget your sweater in the other room.  It’s not when you find out that your child has a serious illness or if your husband decides that he doesn’t want to be married anymore.

Or is it?

The Christian faith relies on God getting us, catching us when we fall, understanding what we are going through.  For every one of our life hurts, God says “I got you.”  I understand you.  I’m with you.  I’m here for you. 

He gets us so much that he sent his son to die for whatever ills we bring upon ourselves.  He gets us so much that he weeps with us and lifts us up when we fall.  Whatever trouble finds us, he can deliver us from it.  No matter what it is.  Every single time.

Now, look.  God does not say that he will make our lives easier.  If we go through a major life struggle, we may have to accept that there’s not much anyone can do about it.  God won’t make it magically better before our eyes.  That’s not getting us.  We may have to work to make it better.  We might even have to sit still and let him work within us.  We may have to lean on his understanding of our situation to get through it.  He can provide us with the wisdom for what to do, and until he does, he is there to lift us up.  We just have to trust that he has us in his care.

And every time, he’s saying it.

I got you.



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For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. Isaiah 41:13

I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Matthew 18:19

And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Luke 12:28


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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Centered

He was sitting at the end of the kitchen table, looking out the window, lips pursed, the hint of a frown crinkling his forehead.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.  I scanned my brain for the myriad things I had done recently that could be construed as problematic for my husband.

“Nothing, really.  I’m just annoyed in general,” he conceded after a moment’s hesitation.  He knows that I won’t let his brooding go for long.  Sooner or later I would drag a confession out of him.  It’s just how it works around here, and sooner is always better.

Work, traffic, reentry into our family’s buzzing hive after being gone on a business trip; these are the things that pepper his life with difficulties that I don’t experience.  I don’t blame him for being annoyed, most days.  But he probably just needs to get over it.  It’s hard to be the king, I snarkily thought.

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I was driving on a four lane highway and my lane was ending.  There were cars in the lane beside me, but I had just enough room to get over.  I judged my speed against theirs and sped up to get in the front of the line.  At once, the car behind me in the opposite lane sped up to prevent me from merging; I slammed on my brakes to avoid colliding with the traffic cones that appeared much too quickly ahead.  Swerving into the lane behind the offending car, I noticed that the driver was talking on her cellphone.  She should have let me in!  I leaned on my horn to get her attention, and promptly flipped her off.  

I had never done that before; I am usually a Zen master on the road.  When I got home I was still mad.  I decided that I was better off staying inside for the rest of the day, where it was unlikely that anybody else would bother me.

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Most days, my husband and I can find contentment with how life is going.  But sometimes, one thing falls out of place and the whole rhythm of life is thrown off.  Usually other people are involved.  Often, they live within the walls of our home.

When these things happen, it’s easy to brood or lash out.  These are our favorite reactions, honed from years of practice.  It’s harder to be at peace when things go haywire, to give our troubles to God, ask for help, and move on with life.

We are human, after all.  We desire compensation.  We want the last word and personal justice.

My husband and I are Christians.  We know what Jesus says about godly living, forgiveness, how to reconcile with others.  We know that in Christ, we can be content.  One of my favorite Bible verses has to do with living at peace with others, for Pete’s sake.



At the core of our desire, we want to be centered, at peace.  The ungodly reactions come when we want to be the center again.

When I reacted harshly to the woman who cut me off on the road, I was angry at her not yielding to me.  When my husband sat in silent annoyance, he was mad because things weren’t going his way.  In the moment, neither of us thought that there was anything we might be doing wrong, that there was a lesson to learn from our experience.

When we rest in Christ, we see our lives as part of God’s plan, his hand firmly and lovingly in charge.  We may suffer rejection and maltreatment, misunderstanding and injustice, but God is always on our side.  We can be annoyed or hurt and angry at the actions of others, pointing fingers and sniffing out sin with upturned noses, or we can cease being part of the world’s machine and be elevated by the Spirit.

We will get through this life in one way or another.  Why not keep Jesus at the center of our lives, and look to him for help?

Dear Lord, please help me to be more content in you.  
Help us all to see that you are in charge.  Amen.


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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

You Are Here

None of us will ever know in this lifetime exactly why God chose to reveal himself to us.  He has his own reasons, and we are not always supposed to know them.  We may have clues and we may figure out one or two of our purposes for being here, and we can try other purposes out until we die, but we will never know all the ways we fit into his plan. 

Throughout our lives we experience events that point to one logical explanation or another.  We become parents and have an epiphany – we are here to raise our children.  We find our passion serving others and our life becomes a model of grace and humility.  We have the revelation that we are here to teach others what God has revealed to our hearts, and our knowledge of the Bible expands.

Other reasons are more difficult to discern: maybe we are part of a long line of Christians, and we have a legacy to uphold.  Maybe we are a part of someone else’s salvation.  Maybe we were lost and it took a lifetime to be found, and that is the lesson.

I like to think up What If? scenarios.  What if God created me to do something that hasn’t happened yet?  What am I going to learn, ultimately?  What will others learn from me?  What box, in the card catalog of lives God made, do I fit into?  Surely not Patron Saints.  Or Martyrs.  Or even Great Christian Leaders.  I’m in that big box over there, the one overstuffed with Ordinary People Living Ordinary Lives.

Or what if there’s another reason for my life?  What if God made me for only one reason?

He loves me. 

He loves us.  It’s simple.  Almost too simple.

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I have a hard time explaining why I am a mother.  I cannot clearly explain the reason why my husband and I made the decision to have kids.  Was it to express our love?  Sort of.  Was it the natural progression of our relationship?  Sure, I guess.  How about to extend our bloodline?  I can honestly say that this was not a reason.  We were married and we loved each other and we wanted kids.  That was it.

It’s not the best answer.  Yet somehow, it is the answer.

It sort of helps me understand why God decide to create us, and give us free will, and lead us to him.  For love.  He created us because he loves us.  He revealed himself to us because he loves us.  He gave me love, and I get that sometimes you do things because of it.

The beauty of our relationship with God is that we don’t have to figure out his motives – they are always from love.  When life is crazy and upside down and nothing makes sense, the simple truth that God loves me is a balm.  Knowing and trusting in his love is a freedom that I don’t have in other areas of my life.   God can be fully trusted, because he has a perfect plan, and he assures us that everything that happens turns out for good.  We don’t have all the answers, but God does.  I am here merely to be loved, and to love God in return.

And that’s all I need to know.




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