Cure for the Sin Hangover

Sometimes when people tell me they think I’m so kind, or so generous, or so caring, I begin to feel a bit twitchy. When will I let them down? I sometimes wonder. And what happens when I do? I told my best friend not long ago that I’d like people to be able to say about me, “That Allison–she handles her sin well.”

Piha hike

Well. Handling my mistakes well means I have to DEAL with them. Face them, acknowledge them, own up to them:  all of that. And, yes, I want to be the person who takes responsibility and seeks forgiveness, but…Honestly, the process feels a little gross. It’s what I think of as an emotional, spiritual hangover:  too much indulgence in something not good for me anyway, and then facing the consequences of said indulgence after the fact.

I experienced just such a hangover this week. In addition to celebrating Woodrow’s birthday on Saturday, we plan to run a 5K. This will be the boys’ first one. I ran avidly many years ago and ran quite a few races, too. Not long after moving to Orlando, I ran 4 races in 3 months (one 10K, the others 5K’s). And although I liked the discipline and challenge of running back then, I don’t particularly enjoy running now. I much prefer my cardio pilates and strength training. But Garfield wanted to run a race, and this one is available. Woodrow had vacillated about whether he would run, too, so I had waited until near the deadline to sign us up.

Last Sunday night, I attempted to register the 3 of us (Mike is going to cheer us on from the sidelines). I had issues with the registration site, and there was conflicting information communicated. I sent a message requesting help, only it didn’t go through. I tried sending that message more than a dozen times–each time it failed. So I called the phone number listed for the organization sponsoring the race but couldn’t leave a message; they didn’t have voicemail activated during non-business hours.

The next morning–Monday, the day of the deadline–I called during business hours but got no answer. I left a message. About 5 hours later, a young woman returned the call but couldn’t help me. I got impatient with her. She told me the person who could help would call me the next day–but online registration ended that night.

The next morning, during our home school lessons, I got the phone call from the person equipped to help with online needs. Even before he started the conversation, I was already annoyed and believing the worst about the situation and about the people supposedly available to help me. Early in the conversation, I rather rudely told him he should stop interrupting me so he could hear how I needed his help–that is, if he really intended to assist me.

He responded, “Maybe we should just not have you run this race.” I was momentarily speechless. “Why is that?” I asked. “Because I don’t think you like us very much,” he chuckled. Taken aback, I simply said, “Thank you for your time,” and hung up.

Y’all. I was embarrassed. I had royally showed my tail, as we say in the South. For the rest of the day, I felt the sting of regret. The person who contributed a story to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book on random acts of kindness, the woman who has a picture of the word “grace” as her Facebook cover photo, the one who used to wear a necklace with the word “forgive” engraved on the pendant (me, in case you’re wondering) had just been rude, mean, and disrespectful to a total stranger who had intended to help me navigate a registration tool so I could race in a fun run with my children. Regret didn’t even begin to convey what I felt.

Later that day, after hours of mulling over the wording of an apology email, I typed it up and sent it–being sure to state my apology and ask for forgiveness twice within the message. I intensely wanted that sentiment to be communicated. I felt renewed peace at sending the message but still hated–hated–the lingering unresolved conflict.

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I didn’t know if the person to whom I’d been so awful would even receive the email message, but I surely prayed he would. And I emailed my best friend to ask her to pray that, too. And he did.

The next morning, I saw his message in response. He thanked me and offered to help get me registered online and even to pay for the fees for all 3 of us; he said it was “very sweet” of me to have sent the message (but I don’t think so–I think it was right and necessary, but “sweet” would have been showing patience at the outset).

What was genuinely sweet, though, was the sense of relief and resolution that had now replaced the remorse I’d felt the day before. What a lifting of my heart, to receive the message that I was forgiven and, even more than that, welcomed to the event after all. God’s forgiveness is like that, I think–giving us a clean slate AND welcoming us into relationship. {Incidentally, we covered our own registration fees.}

I journaled and prayed later that night about the heart issues underlying my attitude and actions toward this stranger on the other end of the phone. Discussing all that would merit a whole ‘nother blog post. But the lesson I did take away from the experience is that God disciplined me in this situation. Discipline, as in loving correction. The Lord has been hearing my prayers to have a transformed heart that consistently responds and acts out of the source of unshakable peace He gives. God took me up on that and used this man’s decisive boundary–Hey, if you’re going to be so rude, I can’t help you–to get my attention in a very lucid way about an area where I don’t consistently respond out of a peaceful heart. You want to grow, Allison–this is what growth requires. Truthfully, I’m deeply grateful for God’s chastening, for His not allowing me to get away with it, and for this man’s boundary, too.

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In this instance, I was far–as in, light years away–from being the so kind, so giving person I’m sometimes described as being. But I believe I made the right choices in handling my sin:  accepting responsibility, trying to make it right, seeking forgiveness.

Confession:  It IS good for the soul, especially when your soul is suffering a hangover.

The Adventurous Life of a Boring Mom

When I was 8 or 9, my family and I visited some extended family members in a small town near Vicksburg, Mississippi. While there, my distant cousin, Dru, who was the same age I was, had a soccer game. Her step-mom invited me to go along, so I went, happy to be included.

I’d never been to a soccer game before, ever. At that time, the sport of soccer had not made its way to my rural hometown. I had to sit alone during her game, since her step-mom had to work the concession stand or keep score or some other job.

The weather was hot, and I got bored. So, near the end of the game, I occupied myself by turning cartwheels on the sidelines. Over and over and over. I kept myself busy by moving–and moving a lot–but always coming back to the exact same spot.

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Last school year, I read a book aloud to the boys:  Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. I did a fair amount of research before reading that to Woodrow and Garfield, because I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the name “Bowditch.” I finally discovered it’s pronounced like “bough,” as in “take a bow.”

The story centers around travels on a ship, so the pronunciation makes sense:  like the bow of a ship. Some of the phrases, particular to those seafaring men, connected with me. When a sailing vessel has insufficient wind to move it along, that ship is said to be “becalmed.” Another phrase that struck me:  Swallowing the anchor. Which refers to the time when a sailor retires from sea-going life and settles down.

There are times, whole seasons, in life when I feel this so acutely. When I feel that I’m where I’m supposed to be, but I’m just cartwheeling myself along the sidelines until the game finishes. When I feel I’ve lived with steps of faith and taking risks that led to adventure, but that those days, whole seasons, are passed–and that I must swallow the anchor and settle down to life ashore. These feelings ebb and flow with the natural push and pull within my own soul.

A genuine contentment {most of the time} at being at home:  home school mother, stay-at-home mom for right at 11 years now. My life truly revolves around our home–parenting, teaching, hours of reading aloud and playing games and listening to countless stories about Garfield’s favorite Hot Wheels and Woodrow’s ideas for new inventions. And all the serving that goes with this life-orbiting-around-the-home–from giving haircuts to piggy back rides to birthday parties. This is what I want.

Henry Ford drawing by Calvin
Garfield’s recent portrait drawing. My boy is a Ford truck man.

A genuine restlessness {once in a while} at being at home:  My husband travels to New York for a week, serving others in his ministry role, while I stay back and home school and take the boys to Scouts and fix meals. He eats at fancy restaurants and sees a Broadway musical, and I think to myself–pettily, I know–But I loved New York first! I lived there for a summer during college, serving with Cru on an inner-city mission project. I went back for a week during my time serving with Cru at Mississippi State, leading a group of college students to serve in and learn from inner-city ministry during spring break. Then I also spent a few days there right after 9/11, involved with Cru service there. Mike thinks he doesn’t travel much for work (and compared to others, he really doesn’t), but he gets on a plane numerous times a year. I haven’t flown since 2012.

Before we had children, I discussed with my then-team leader our plans to go to New Zealand for a year and join a team ministering to college students there. I pondered that, if we were going to do this, it might be better to go before we had babies. His response:  “You better get while the getting’s good.” It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that his comment terrified me. What did that mean for my life one day as a mother?

butterfly drawing

I have ten years left–only ten!--to finish laying a foundation in my children’s lives, before they are (more or less) launched into the world. I will not wish away a single moment. I will continue to stop what I’m doing and make eye contact with the child who has another question, another story. I will sacrifice the travel and give up the adventure for time–lots and lots and lots of time, for there simply is no substitute for it–with my children.

Yesterday, we spent a half hour finishing an elaborate game of Memory that Woodrow had made up. Before bedtime, we spent almost half an hour reading, even though I’d already read a chapter from that book in the morning, too. If time is money, I’m investing it in these boys.

When my sons and I spend a morning packing homeless care bags together, or shopping together for socks and underwear and t-shirts to send to a ministry to men engaged in survival prostitution, or cleaning together at a friend’s condo as she prepares it for a new tenant, my eyes of faith crack open a bit wider, and I can see more clearly:  This IS the adventure. 

 

 

Healing from the Hurt of a Friend

Since “heal” is my word of the year, I want to keep exploring this theme in my life and notice where it shows up. One instance of healing from hurt in a relationship where I wrestled with how to experience peace over it came to mind today. I’m reading a book by the author Donald Miller called Scary Close:  Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy. I always spend time stopping and ruminating on the concepts an author expounds upon when I’m reading non-fiction, and this book provides plenty of those stop-and-ponder moments.

The relationship–and the hurt within it–that surfaced in my mind today lived and died about 9 years ago. When I was pregnant with Woodrow, and Mike had I had newly returned from our year in New Zealand, my friend Anne invited me to join a women’s Bible study she’d begun leading. Through that group of women, I met and befriended an older woman we’ll call Alma (because that isn’t her name). Her children were all grown and married, and she had several grandchildren, whereas I was just beginning my journey into motherhood. Even so, we had much in common, with some particular family relationships and challenges therein.

After the Bible study ended–and I’d birthed Woodrow and begun to establish life as a mother to a newborn–I thought about Alma and wanted to spend more time with her. So, several months after the Bible study group had thrown me a surprise baby shower during my first pregnancy, I called Alma and asked if we could get together and visit. I wanted the influence of an experienced, mature woman, growing in her faith and relationships, in my life. She was keen to meet up, as glad as I was to spend time together.

Over the next year or so, we met several times, sometimes over meals–once at her house, where we shared cinnamon rolls and prayed together. We talked about meaningful and personal parts of life. Then, about the time I got pregnant with Garfield, some things in my life started to crumble. Mike and I were in counseling, and I was hurting. In fact, I’d felt blindsided by most of what was causing the hurt, and I realized it would get worse before it could get better. So I reached out to Alma–I wanted her input and her advice. I wanted to lay it all on the table and ask, “What do you think?”

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We talked on the phone, and we got together for a meal at Panera. I remember her treating me to dinner that night and asking if I wanted onions on my bagel sandwich–she didn’t know, she said, because she wasn’t sure I’d prefer eating onions while pregnant. Throughout these conversations, Alma expressed thanks that I trusted her with difficult and burdensome struggles. She said she was humbled that I would turn to her for insight. I knew Alma had much to offer, and she seemed grateful to be able to share her life experience.

After a few times meeting together–which was sometimes a feat to accomplish, given her work schedule and my caring for a toddler–she urged me to email her with news about how I was doing, how she could pray for me. I hesitated at first, thinking much would get lost in an email conversation. But after she encouraged me twice to do that, I took her up on it, thinking this would help fill in the cracks between the times we could meet face to face.

One night, I wrote a message to her, explaining some of what I had been processing and going further in-depth with some questions she’d asked me previously. A day or so later, Alma responded with a three-sentence reply, barely addressing what I’d mentioned. She concluded with, “Let me know when you want to get together again.” I felt surprised and unsure how to respond. I suppose if I want to see Alma again, the onus is on me, I thought.

My personal life became more confusing and painful, and we had a miscarriage scare with Garfield, and still I didn’t hear from Alma (not that she knew about the near-miscarriage, since we hadn’t talked). At some point, I realized we hadn’t spoken or visited with each other in months. I wondered what had happened, and I felt discarded. Did I miss something? Had she not actually been as eager for the friendship as she’d seemed to indicate? I wondered.

As I continued to wade through the chaos of life, thoughts of Alma faded to the background. I assumed the friendship had run its course–that maybe God had allowed her to be in my life for a time, maybe to help hold me up as I limped along for a bit, but that the season of friendship with Alma was finished. Then, one day about 5 months after our last email exchange, I saw a message from her–another 3-sentence message. “I’ve come to collect my Worst Friend award. Ha, ha,” was how it opened. It concluded with something along the lines of “hope you’re OK” and “maybe we can catch up sometime.”

If Alma had never written that message at all, if I’d continued assuming we’d simply gone our separate ways, I would have been fine. But her breezy, casual paragraph–with her “worst friend” quip–wounded me to the quick. I think it actually left me breathless for a moment. A day or two later, I still hadn’t responded, because I’d been thinking about what to do. Then I realized I wasn’t going to write back. True, I hadn’t called her or asked for a time to meet up during those months of silence. But I’d taken her at her word, poured my heart out via email as she’d suggested, then felt brushed off and ignored–by the person who earlier had been so grateful for my trust and vulnerability.

pin cushion with pins

Telling somebody “If you need me, give me a holler” is in an entirely different orbit than showing up in a person’s life and declaring “I knew you needed me, so I came.” I didn’t think Alma and I had anything to share anymore; I just didn’t think there was much friendship left. So I left her message unanswered.

Over the years, I have come to extend grace to her in my heart and mind–understanding that we all fall short of loving unconditionally, and certainly I’ve let down friends myself at times. I wish her well, and I’ve prayed for her on occasion, particularly in those times when I felt I struggled most to forgive her. But in certain moments, I’ve doubted myself about not responding to her last email, about not giving her another chance–even though I’m convinced (both then and now) it was a healthy boundary for me to set, even if others would have handled it differently.

Today, though, God revealed something else:  the peace in what I DIDN’T do. I didn’t get back in touch with her so I could punish her for rejecting me. I didn’t pretend to keep the friendship alive so I could make sure she paid back a debt she owed. I didn’t string her along with the promise of forgiveness if she were sorry enough.

toys-on-pallet

In what I DIDN’T do, I find peace, even resolution. I forgave Alma, let her off the hook, and said good-bye to a friendship that I realized didn’t have any life left in it. I haven’t seen Alma in almost a decade, but wherever she is, I hope she’s well and experiencing healing of her own.

How Not Complaining Gave Me Better Understanding

For Lent, we decided as a family to fast from complaining–and we chose not only to give up something but also to add something during the season of Lent. We elected to add acts of kindness. As you can imagine, at least one person in the family fails almost daily in the giving up of complaining. But therein lies the value of choosing to ‘sacrifice’ this habit for Lent:  We know that we can’t be good enough in our own strength, our own power, to uphold our own standard of goodness (much less God’s standard). So as we slip and stumble, we’re reminded of our need for Christ. Of our need for the gospel. Of our need for the gospel EVERY SINGLE DAY.

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But recognizing that we ARE fasting from complaining helps to make me at least more intentional about noticing when I do it and about kicking it to the curb when I catch myself at it.

This past Sunday afternoon, on a glorious and bright and sunny day, we took the boys to a lake with Woodrow’s kayak and their fishing gear. I took my workout plan and found a shady spot to do my crunches, squats, Russian twists, and the rest, while Mike watched the boys play around with the kayak mostly near the shore.

A massive, well-attended dog park sits next to the park with the pier and the lake where our family spent time that day. Dog owners bring their pets to the dog park here to run and play; they even have a bit of lake shore set aside for their enjoyment. All this is separated from the lake park (called Lake Baldwin Park) by a fence. The fence even extends several feet out into the water, and the place across from the multi-acre dog park–where the boys paddled in the kayak and fished off the pier–is marked with a sign reading “No Dogs Beyond This Point.”

Almost every time we visit this lake park, we see dog owners bring their pets right out onto the pier, past the sign informing them not to bring their dogs to that area. The dog park has its own entrance, so there’s no need for the owners to walk their dogs on or near the pier. Sometimes these dogs startle my children while the boys dangle fish hooks in the water, but the dogs are usually on leashes, and I typically don’t say anything to the owners about it.

This past Sunday, however, we encountered a different situation with a dog and her owner. The man dropped his dog off at the dog park and then walked over to the lake park, to the pier, and stood on it while yelling at his dog across the fence. He wanted her to swim around the fence that stretched out into the water and make her way over to him on the pier. He tried to get her to swim around to him over and over. She didn’t seem to understand the command. Eventually, he went back inside the dog park to retrieve her. Then he brought her with him back to the lake park, to the side of the lake NOT designated as a dog park. He took her off her leash, letting her run freely.

And run she did, round and round. She ran around him; she ran around me; she ran around the pier and into the water. At one point, Garfield turned around while sitting in the kayak to see a large dog running full speed toward where he sat in the water. I called out to him that it was OK. But it wasn’t OK with me. 

During the time the dog ran wildly around the lake park, the dog owner kept calling to his dog. It was clear he’d lost control, although I could tell by the tone of his voice that he didn’t want it to sound that way. When I tried to reassure Garfield that it was OK, he heard me and answered, “Oh, she won’t bite; she just wants to run.” I didn’t respond to him, but I could see how exasperated he was getting with the dog. He seemed to be the kind of person who wanted to give the appearance of having things under control, of being IN control. It seemed to matter to this man that the handful of people at the lake saw him as a guy who could get things done, as somebody who certainly wouldn’t be bested by his dog.

We got ready to leave just a few minutes after this man finally wrangled the dog and got her back on the leash. As I walked over to Mike (from where I’d been exercising), I considered venting about this irresponsible dog owner. Which is a bit of a pet peeve for me, y’all. But I believe God prompted me to hold my tongue; there was no reason at this point to comment on the situation. So I chose not to say anything–not to complain.

But I thought about this occurrence at Lake Baldwin Park over the next couple of days. I thought about this man, not just about what he did that bothered me or frightened my children, but about him. And I concluded that he was embarrassed. He was embarrassed that his dog had gotten the better of him–and in front of other people at that. All his bravado, his very calculated nonchalance, was to cover up his embarrassment. His fear of not being seen as the person he wanted to portray to the world, even to strangers.

And instead of feeling annoyed by him, I felt some compassion for him. I also realized that most (all?) of us struggle with this to some degree:  fear of being exposed, of being found out, of not being seen as the pulled-together and competent and capable people we want others to know we are so that we can be assured of being accepted and wanted.

When I think about all this, my heart feels freed up to extend more grace to this man. And just think–perhaps none of that would have been possible if I’d complained.

On the Loss That Makes Me Feel Officially Old

At lunch time today, I pulled food from the fridge and discovered the bag of peppers in the vegetable crisper that my grandfather had given us the last time we’d seen him alive. I had forgotten about those peppers, and now most are shriveled. I don’t know how I’ll manage to throw them out. And even if we ate them–all of them–they’d still be gone, and then there would be no more evidence I could hold in my hands of his gardening prowess.

Papa died on Valentine’s Day, and we left the next day–a Wednesday–for Lucedale, Mississippi, where I was born, raised, where my parents and grandmother still live. The boys and I were in the throes of making our annual heart-shaped Valentine’s cake when I heard the news from Mama. The strawberries that we typically used to decorate the edges of the heart cake had sold out, so we had to substitute fresh raspberries instead.

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Papa had not been ill; although he was 90 years old, he was in good health. His death during a heart catheterization–a diagnostic procedure–shocked us all. I had known Papa was undergoing the heart cath at the hospital; and even when I felt a faint sense of worry, I told myself that he wouldn’t die during a process meant to determine how well his heart was working.

I close my eyes and see my 2 brothers and 7 male cousins laboring to carry Papa’s casket to his grave on February 17, a chilly, sunny day. This feels like the beginning of the end of everything good. I told my husband, my sister, Nothing will ever be the same. I also told my husband:  You know this is going to keep on happening, right? At some point, my grandmother, your parents, my parents…There’s a line in the Tom Petty song ‘Learning to Fly’ that goes like this:  “The good old days may not return.”

We packed up the heart-shaped cake and put it in the freezer and spent the next several days following Valentine’s Day in Lucedale. Leaving my mother and my Nanny when my husband and sons and I loaded into our van to drive home was one of the most agonizing things I’ve ever done. We are so many hundreds of miles away; I want to be with them, to grieve with them and to help them if I could.

On the way home to Orlando last Saturday, I asked Garfield if he needed to get a drink of water. He responded, “No, I still have my tea from Nanny and Papa’s.” Nanny and Papa’s. It wrecked me. 

Papa always gave me money for good grades growing up, a quarter for every A on my report card. Sometimes he would hand us rolls of quarters; I often used those to do laundry during college. In first grade, Nanny and Papa took me–just me–to what is now called Ray’s Tri-County  Auction. We sat in the back and ate hamburgers from the concession stand, and Papa bought me a beautiful doll with black hair and a long red dress covered in lace.

In fourth grade, I misplaced my lavender New Balance tennis shoes (some folks outside the South call them ‘sneakers’). I didn’t find them for several weeks. During that time, I wore the lovely, dark brown cowboy boots that Papa had bought for me at our local farm co-op. They had just the right amount of heel, in my ten-year-old’s opinion. I wore them with everything, everyday, including a pink track suit with the legs stuffed down in the boots. One day during P.E. that year, our class actually did exercises instead of simply playing around the school yard. The P.E. coach herded us into the gym, and we ran laps. I ran laps–in my boots. Not surprisingly, I slipped and fell on the hardwood floor but got back up right away. I kept running.

Papa had nicknames for all his grandchildren–mine was Pumpkin. Always, it was Pumpkin. Papa served as the sheriff of our county for 24 years, and I remember many hot summer nights at political rallies, passing out flyers urging people to vote for Papa, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Re-elect Howell Sheriff.”

At Papa’s funeral, I heard a man say to Nanny–Papa’s widow–as he leaned down to hug her, “He was my friend.” I discovered last week that Papa liked to play 2 old gospel songs in his sheriff’s office:  One Day at a Time and I’ll Fly Away. He would even call in to the local radio station and ask for those songs to be played.

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He lied about his age at 16 and joined the army, serving during WWII. My husband used to ask Papa questions about this time of his life, and Papa told us many stories. In one, he explained how he and the other men with him who’d landed in Japan wanted to flesh out their MRE’s, so they cooked Japanese eggplants and added them to the army-issued meals. Papa laughed when he said that this just ruined the MRE’s. He also jumped out of airplanes. And he built fences as a side business. Two of my cousins, one of my brothers, and I used to play “Dukes of Hazard” in the back of Papa’s fence-building pick-up truck.

Papa looked to me like a cross between Jimmy Stewart and the TV sheriff Andy Griffith, and he was married to my grandmother for 67 years. And there is no way I could possibly write enough about him; there aren’t sufficient words.

I am shattered and gutted. My eyes burn from the tears I’ve shed, and my head hurts from the tears I’ve not shed. I do grieve with hope, because I’m confident I’ll see Papa again. But right now, I’m just grieving, and I’m exceedingly thankful that God gives me the grace to accept that.

Life Lesson Through Parenting: Calvin’s Clip

This week, the online platform of Live with Heart and Soul magazine published a guest blog post I’d written. Like so many–MANY–lessons I learn in life these days, this post centers around one I gleaned from parenting my two boys. The events that I share in this post took place a few years ago, but re-reading it this week brought not only the experience but also the lesson back to mind. It’s a good concept to ponder as we grow in our faith.

You can find the post hereand the title is “Calvin’s Clip.” FYI, Calvin is the one I call Garfield on my blog. He’s now 8 years old and rarely shoves things between his teeth anymore. Woodrow put a piece of plastic in his ear at age 4–to save it for later, he solemnly told me at the time I discovered it–and that DID result in a tense trip to the pediatrician. Hopefully those days are behind us.

socks-and-flip-flops
Calvin’s feet:  This is how we dress for cold weather in Florida.

You can also find the link to “Calvin’s Clip” by clicking on the “Featured In” button down below, on the bottom of this page. However you get to it, I hope it ministers to you. Thanks, as always, for reading. I love sharing about my life in this little corner of the world, and I always welcome your feedback.

New Day, New Mercies

When my great friend Lynn and I talk on the phone, our conversations usually last an hour–at least. In one of our recent talks, Lynn told me a story that her pastor related to their congregation at church one day.

He shared how he sometimes wakes up his young son early in the morning, while the sky is still dark. Together, they sit and watch the sun rise. As light begins to dawn, this father points to the rising sun and asks his child, What is that? The little boy answers his father, “New mercies. That’s new mercies.”

On the night Lynn told me this story she’d heard in church, I had called her because I felt down and discouraged and needed to share my burdens. As I pictured a little boy confidently answering his father, as they watched the sun rise together, that the start of a new day signified God’s new mercies, I came undone. I sobbed.

oxalils-in-dish

There are days when I feel I must surely tax God’s mercies, His patience, His grace. As if there couldn’t possibly be more of it left over for the next day, too. In those moments, I live not like an adopted child of the Heavenly Father, not like a daughter of the King, but like an orphan.

An orphan, assuming she must scrap and grasp for what she needs, grab and hold tight to whatever she can reach that might fill the empty cup of her heart. An orphan who lives out of a belief that she must prove herself–and her worth–instead of resting in the love of the One who has secured her identity as a much-loved child.

It’s exhausting, living that way. Thinking that I’m all on my own and must resolve my problems on my own. Thinking that I must find life on my own, often by insisting that I be acknowledged by others, demanding that I be understood. I hate being misunderstood–don’t we all?–and hate having my motives, my heart, misjudged by others. I must make them understand me! I sometimes think, as if being understood will set me free. Or make me feel as though I belong.

But I cannot control another person’s thoughts about me, my heart, my motives. There’s no life to be found there–and if there were, it would only be shifting sand.

There’s no rest in the life of an orphan. Rest comes to the child who’s been brought into God’s family, to the one who can lay down at night, with her bruised and weary heart, trusting that her Father will indeed provide everything she needs for life. Everything she needs for a new day.

Trusting that, each day–regardless of what has come before–there will be new mercies.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.