Bathroom Shelves and Old Books

The car ride to my in-laws was the breaking point this weekend. The babies decided halfway to Knoxville to scream with all they had in their tiny lungs. For an hour. Normally I just deal with it but on Friday I found myself cowered in the passenger seat, head on the glove compartment, hands pressed over my ears. I felt pathetic. There my husband was, one eye on the road and the other on his crazy wife, seeing me fall to pieces over the same amount of stress he manages to deal with so nonchalantly every day. I felt guilty. There I was spiraling into despair when there are such real and devastating issues of sex trafficking and ISIS—to name a mere two of 1,000,000. Finally, I was just so frustrated at myself. Why was I allowing my mood to ruin what was supposed to be a wonderful evening?

Of course, it wasn’t just the stress of crying babies. There were and are a dozen deep-seated issues that I’ve been shoving aside for some time, not realizing as they’ve quietly mounted like piles of snow on a chilly Vermont curbside. But cowering does not solve such problems; allowing my chest to get so tight it’s about to explode doesn’t solve anything. And I knew it. I just (felt I) couldn’t help it.

And of all the places and people and ways for God to speak to me, to comfort me and bring me back to logic and perspective, it came in the bathroom.

In the quaint little guest bathroom–the place I ran to for escape–there are three shelves in the corner, stacked with magazines. And on the bottom shelf, I saw an old copy of My Utmost for His Highest. I plucked it up and the passage spoke to me:

There are certain things we must not pray about—moods, for instances. Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won’t.

Just like that, I had the strength to follow through and pray about the things going on in my life. Just like that, God met me and helped me pitch the tar off my heart, freeing me to both enjoy the evening and rationally discuss how to deal with my current issues.

As Oswald says, sometimes it takes a good kick of sturdy words to get back in the game.

 

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

-John 14:26

 

Pearls and Dreams

pearls-2-1417045-1279x911We were still in pearls and trailing black dresses as we sat on barstools after the gala and talked about the evening’s end. It was the last of the ACFW conference (American Christian Fiction Writers), and we were all in good spirits after incredible food—three days of waiters offering coffee in white porcelain cups after every meal (one waiter even fluffed a napkin and put it on my lap)—conversation, interviews, and for some, awards.

I sat at the same table with one woman I’d met earlier, one who during the conference was full of grace as she encouraged and prayed for individuals as they walked into those terrifying 15 minute interviews. It was impressive to see that during the gala her face came up as one of the three finalists for an award in not just one but two categories. Unfortunately her name wasn’t called and she didn’t end up on stage with plaque in hand (this time). Still, what an honor. I congratulated her, but saw the understandable disappointment lingering in her eyes.

I thought to myself, “I’d be thrilled to be you! Walk home with two finalists awards under my belt.”

And it made me think.

Of the hundreds at that conference, we all had the same basic goal and could easily look to the person on our left or right and want to be in their position. The fun-loving girl chit chatting about thrift shops and plane tickets ended up being an author of (*pause while I google*) 12 books! I go to the bathroom and recognize the face of an author whose book I’m currently reading (I almost chanted the creepy phrase from a bathroom scene in her novel over the stall)! I turn around at dinner to find I’m back-to-back with none other than Francine Rivers.

But regardless of where we are, of the temptations to want to be in others’ shoes and situations, I find the words of Lewis impeccable:

“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

What’s the point of not being happy with wherever I am right now? As a follower of God my hopes and dreams are not even my own. Who cares if I succeed or fail in finding an agent, selling my book, writing words that reach hundreds, thousands, millions? If it is not in the will of God, or of eternal significance, then may such ventures pass away unattended. But if it is the will of God, and of eternal significance, then I’m sure God can nudge the plans forward for His glory.

Because, after all, this isn’t about me.

 

Always be joyful.

Never stop praying.

Be thankful in all circumstances,

for this is God’s will for you

who belong to Christ Jesus.

 1 Thess 5:16-18

 

Check it out! C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory

 

Daily Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 59-61; 2 Thessalonians 3