Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Reality of Me-Time

Seven times I heard the door open, and walked down the hall to see my daughter standing at the top of the stairs.  I sighed heavily.  Post 9pm is me- time. 
The house was quiet when I slipped downstairs and turned on my tea kettle.  Early mornings are rare for me --but this morning was different.  This morning I was awake, energized, cheerful, ready.  I buried myself under my favorite blanket and opened the well-worn pages of my Bible.  Two verses in and I heard it -- the sounds of awakening children.  So much for my me-time.  
3am and I audibly groaned.  The cries down the hall pleaded for my attention.  I didn't particularly feel like rolling out of bed to hold a sick child.  He'd get another nap in the morning -- but me?  This was my only chance to sleep.

There's this thing that I long for daily, hourly even, like it's an inalienable right - me-time.   I spend my days giving to children who demand more time, energy, and patience that I feel like I have.   The few moments I have each day to sit and rest never feel long enough.  

Every parenting magazine will reaffirm, celebrate even, your longing for a break from your kids.

Every mom needs their me-time.

And so we pine after it, search for it, guilt husbands into granting it, escape to hobbies, Facebook, texting, and ignoring our children, in an attempt to secure it. 

But may I suggest that perhaps you already have it?

In fact, you actually have an entire 24 hours of it each day, 7 days a week.

Your time belongs to you.  No one else.  It's your me-time, and no one else gets to decide how to use it.

I hear your brain rattling.

But what about my kids?  The laundry? My job? I can't very well ignore those things, can I? 

Now, I'm not advocating the neglect of your children or responsibilities.  However, I am advocating a perspective change.  

In motherhood, and in life, we easily view ourselves as victims of others.  We are a victim of the incessant needs of our children, who can't feed themselves, dress themselves, teach themselves, or train themselves.  We are the victim of our finances, forcing us to work a job for supplemental income.  We victimize ourselves when our husbands, or friends, can do things that we must miss out on.  We victimize ourselves when we must get up in the middle of the night and deal with unique weaknesses in our children.  

But consider Jesus the author of all of Creation and possessor of all authority on heaven and earth:

As men encircled him, arrested him as a criminal, handed him over to an enemy, and led him to the most brutal of deaths, Jesus' perspective was this:

"No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord... "

While Jesus was certainly speaking in this passage of his divine authority, he's also highlighting a principle of ownership.  He owns his life.  And he chooses to lay it down.  At any moment, he says he can call down legions of angels to save him.  In doing this, Jesus boldly declares:  I am not a victim of others, I gladly choose to give away the life which I own.

Or consider the perspective from Hebrews:

"Jesus...who for the joy set before him, endured the cross..."

Jesus chose to endure the cross for the sake of joy.  No one forced his hand or his will.  He looked at his beloved --us--and gladly, joyfully, surrendered that which belonged entirely to Him.

Those 24 hours in each day?  God's given them to you.  And you alone will determine how to use them.  It's your time. 

The next time you hear the cries of your newborn, the needs of your toddler, the demands of your family, remind yourself:

This is my me-time, but I choose to give it away to the ones I love. 

You can do it, because Jesus did it for you.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You Can't Erase Mistakes, But You Can Find Covering

She gasped when she realized its power, that tiny pink nub on the other side of the pencil.  It was a simple eraser, but it brought her nothing short of sheer delight.

I hear her at the kitchen table -- scratching and scrawling her letters, then giddily exclaiming "ah, I made a mistake!"  A smile creeps across her face as she flips the pencil upside-down and busily rubs until the graphite line has all but disappeared.  For her, and for now, there is joy in the "undoing" of errors, in the making of all things right.

Sometimes, I wish I had that delight -- the joy of simply "erasing mistakes."  Oh, to simply flip a pencil upside down and erase my harsh words, my judgmental spirit, my indifference towards my God.  But sin is stronger than pencils, and grown-up mistakes can leave permanent marks on the soul.  

And since I can't erase, I simply try to cover them up.  I hide my errors behind justifications, I allow time to fade their potency.  If I do acknowledge error, I do so with embarrassment and guilt.  I want others acknowledge their sin first before I'll admit to my own.  Confession becomes a shameful, exposing process. And it strips the delight from my relationships. 

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Years ago, there was a man who covered up errors, hid behind excuses, buried his mistakes, and soon found himself wasting away -- living in agony.  Surprisingly, his joy came when he stopped trying to cover himself, and and instead admitted his need for other-covering:

"Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered...When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long...
Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not cover up my iniquity."
Psalm 32 (portions)

Blessing-- joy beyond words -- comes not through avoiding, or hiding -- but covering.  And there's a different kind of covering that we need -- it's not self-covering, but cross-covering.

Jesus has paid it all.  He has covered you.  Because our sins, our failures, our mistakes -- they can never just be "erased."  They can't simply be "undone," like an unwanted pencil mark on a paper.  But they can be paid for.  They can be covered through the cross.  The One whom we've wronged treats us as righteous and perfect.  

It's better than an eraser. 

Do you delight in the correction of your mistakes?
Do you quickly and humbly admit wrong against your spouse, or do you demand evidence and a reciprocated apology?
Do you relish the chance to reconcile with your children? Or do you angrily mutter, "I'm sorry" between clenched teeth, inwardly blaming them for provoking you?
Do you eagerly approach God's throne in confession, knowing that grace and forgiveness freely abounds in Christ?

How much of your day-to-day misery, exhaustion, despair, and broken relationships is a result of hiding, excusing, or pointing the finger at others?

Confess joyfully.  Find a better covering in Christ.   Blessing is yours for the taking.