Recently, I felt like God gave me the overarching explanation of what I write about: Trusting God in the trauma, drama, and minutiae of everyday life. It’s been awhile since I wrote about the minutiae, which is of course where we spend about 80% of our day. When I find God there, I am reminded that he doesn’t just care about my spiritual life, He cares about my life.
If I can engage with Him while in line at the grocery store, at a stop light, in the waiting room, at the gas station, at the kid’s sporting events, while doing the dishes, cooking dinner or even, dare I say, at the DMV, then I can maintain a type of intimacy with the God of my understanding at all times.
Not just when my life is exploding or I am imploding.
So, in that vein, I give you the following insight, triggered by me walking up my stairs after doing one of the most mundane chores of all, feeding my cat.
I had just fed her (because by 4:00pm she gets frenzied and acts like she hasn’t been fed for 3 days) and headed back up the stairs. I assumed she would just stay down there and eat, but on the way up I had the thought, “If she darts past me as I am heading upstairs, it’s because ultimately, she just wants to be where we are.”
By the time I reached the kitchen, she had done just that. A couple minutes later I found myself singing the lyrics to a worship song from the year 2000 (I looked that up because I knew it came from somewhere deep in my subconscious!).
“I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence. I don’t want to worship from afar. Draw me near to where You are…In Your presence, that’s where I always want to be. I just want to be, I just want to be with You.” (Don Moen)
I have sung those words dozens of time on our worship team so the song came flooding back in once I opened the gates. On a side note, apparently my younger-self could memorize things like a boss. Today, I am lucky if I remember your name about 1 minute after you introduce yourself!
As I let this song revisit me, I found myself singing it as I drove around town and tooled around my house. Besides bringing back some nostalgic feelings about that era of my life, it also reminded me of a study we did around that time called “Experiencing God.”
The study, and the song, both suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should be trying to find out where God is already at work and meeting Him there. What a novel thought. Instead of doing what I often do and invite Him to join me, maybe I should invite myself to do what He is already doing.
There is a subtle but drastic difference.
One attitude centers around me and what I have going on that day or in my life in general.
When my primary purpose is “just being where He is”, wherever that may be, my life is an adventure waiting to happen, even in the minutiae.
I really wanted to snap a picture to give you a better feel for this entire scenario. But, because of what I am about to explain to you, that thought came to me about 2 minutes too late.
You may recall my post a couple months ago declaring I was defying my own vow to never run again. I had somehow roped a few friends into running a half-marathon. At the time, I wasn’t even running a half-mile. Temporary insanity I guess.
So, off we went. It became clear pretty quickly that I was in over my head. Two of the girls were about 25 years younger than me and the other one was just plain naturally designed to run, as it turns out.
One day, as we headed out on a leisurely 9 miler, we were all in a precious little line with our headphones in and our heads held high. About mile 3 or 4 the gap began. It spread further and further. By the time I thought it was comical and might make a good blog on comparison, using the picture of them outrunning me as an illustration, they had already turned the corner and I was unable to capture it.
My competitive nature kept me going. I would not quit. But I sincerely had to hold back tears of humiliation, shame, and disappointment. I silently sniffled and shuffled along. In my mind, I was comparing myself to them in every way possible and failing miserably short.
That’s when things got much, much worse.
My phone, which I was using to hear my interval prompt (telling me when to walk and when to run because this is how my 52 yr. old body has to do things apparently) and also music and podcasts to distract me from the fact that I was huffing and puffing, went in to some dark place that it has never gone before, ever.
It went black and just said, “I-phone unavailable at this time. Check back in 5 minutes.” In five minutes I checked back and it told me I should wait 15 minutes. I couldn’t turn it off, text, or call anyone, which was problematic since I was supposed to be following my running friends who were now a mile ahead of me, and I didn’t really know the route back to make it equal the 9 miles I was committed to run.
So here is how the rest of it played out.
Even though I had previously been beating myself up for being slow, out of shape and obviously not a “real runner” like the other girls, I had to shift my focus. I now had to invest my brain-energy and count 30-Mississippi while walking and 90-Mississippi while running (because God forbid I run one single second longer or not get the rest I deserved).
My mind was 100% consumed with counting and praying that I could survive the next 5 miles.
Guess what I did not think about? Anything else. There was simply no space left in my brain for negative or cruel self-talk.
And that’s when it hit me. My solution to the comparison trap:
When my primary focus is on God (how He loves and cherishes me and how He wants to use me to help you understand how He loves and cherishes you), there is little room leftover for comparing.
Instead of just “trying not to” compare, I can fill my mind and spirit with thoughts of grace and forgiveness and worship and gratitude.
We each have our own path, our own race to run. Whether someone is behind me or far (very. very far) ahead of me is none of my business. What matters is only what God has for me. I am exactly where I need to be.
Please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested!
I’m putting together a book called Embracing the Impact of Cancer. Remember what it was like being diagnosed? Did you feel alone? I sure did (even though I was surrounded by people).
I am looking for 8 people who have either had cancer or still have it and want to share their stories of embracing the impact it’s had on their lives. The mission of this book is to give hope to those who are going through the journey.
Because everyone’s journey is not the same, we’re looking for various types of cancers and journeys. I’d love to have you join the book and share your story.
Yesterday was my birthday and I spent time at the hospital, not to be confused with in the hospital, which is the reality that wooed me to writing today.
My middle son, Bennett, had a rib extracted (look up Thoracic Outlet Syndrome for some fun reading)! He is home now and doing great. But I find it ironic that I spent my birth-day at the same hospital I almost spent my death-day 7 years ago.
Some of you might be tempted to feel sorry for me that I spent my birthday reflecting on how I almost died, how I spent time in 10 different hospital rooms on multiple floors, how I sat with visiting friends in the sunny courtyard, how I roamed the halls while I spent 70 days there over a seven month stretch, and how I was admitted in the very same department as we admitted my son the day before. It was all very surreal but don’t you dare spend a minute having pity on me…
I loved it.
In a twisted way, I embraced the memories and absorbed the history of it all as I ate the cafeteria food I had “enjoyed” dozens of times in the past. The only downside was I didn’t get my special button so I could have them serve me whatever I wanted, in bed, whenever I wanted; I soooo miss that button.😥
Because I am free of Leukemia today, I can celebrate. Being present there, on that specific day, was a wonderful gift from God…no doubt in my mind.
But, as per usual, I also had a couple new insights while hanging out in the waiting room during his surgery. Hang tight while I pontificate about one of them.
Picture a room full of people, from all walks of life, various ages, and gifted with a wide variety of social skills. The main thing, maybe the only thing, we had in common was that we were all waiting to hear about the progress and prayed for the success of someone’s surgery – someone we loved or were at least obligated to support ( we have probably all been in both scenarios).
There was a desk by the front entrance with a land-line phone on it. No one was sitting at the desk, like they would have pre-pandemic. There was a simple note that instructed people in the waiting room to lend them a hand: if the phone rings, please answer it and then, somehow, find the people/person the nurses are trying to get information to about the patient and put them on the phone.
So, occasionally it would ring, and whoever was closest to the phone or had the least tolerance for the incessant ringing or is one of those weirdos who likes to be all up in everyone’s business and be uber-helpful (possibly me), would answer it. Then they would wander around calling out a last name until someone answered (and not to tattle, but the Browns had apparently just left their “person” there and gone to lunch or something!).
As this continued to happen, it occurred to me that everyone who answered the call to get a message to the family member of a sick person, was also a family member of a sick person. Probably a very, very sick person if they were needing surgery. But again and again, people answered and got outside of their own fear, worry and waiting for their own results in order to do their part, in order to bring a message of good news even when they didn’t know for sure that their news would be the same.
I have been preparing to do a few events, what I call Soul-Selfie Soirées, in the next couple of months, and seeing this played out reminded me that:
…even when our story is rocky and precarious, even while we are still “sick” with the dis-eases of cancer, addiction, resentment, control, anxiety, fear, doubt, etc., we can still use our stories to help others who are going through the same.
We will never be 100% whole and put together this side of heaven, but you might be just far enough along that your solutions might benefit someone else who struggles with similar issues.
This idea reminds me that the very first chapter of my first book is dated March 29th. I got out of ICU March 3rd. I didn’t know if I would live or die from Leukemia. What I did know was that up to that point, I had enough to say about hope and faith and healing and was ready to share it with anyone who needed to hear that message.
I’ll say it again for the thousandth time: It’s not what I write about that makes me keep writing or keeps others reading, it’s why I write. I write to let others know they are not alone in their struggles and there is always hope.
I don’t have to be “all better” to do that. And either do you. Your story matters. It matters to others and it matters to you. Quit waiting until you get your act together, your life cleaned up, or your circumstances ironed out.
When you tell your story, it’s a win-win: It will encourage and strengthen you as much or more than who you tell it to.