Thyme article: My Good Verses His Best
There was a time, there are still times, where the fog settles in and seems to not only pervade my mind and emotions but my spirit. Where the dust of the black and white in my life settles in an earthly gray that seems to steer my life in an autopilot direction instead of an adventurously expectant one.
We all have a story. We all have a testimony. Some stories are stained with the tears that only true trauma can bring…death, divorce, addiction, disease. Some stories seem to have more empty pages than those filled with the life of words. Some stories seem to just keep going, with no true beginning or end, no true anything. I think we all navigate through all of these seasons of stories at one time or another, but the story where my life seemed to most recently land was the latter. It was February of 2012 and life was good, but not the “best”. My husband of 11 years at the time was wonderful but restless. My two boys, 5 years and 3 years old, were blessings but in and out of preschool, church, grandparent’s houses, and our offices more than they were at their own home. And I was just plain busy. Aren’t we all? Isn’t that always the excuse, the reason for my saneness in the insanity, my identity?
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, but by trade I am a pediatric physical therapist. At the time I had a wonderful professional career as one of the managers of a thriving pediatric clinic. A job that allowed flexibility, certainty, and passion. But due to my character, it was also a job that opened the door to busyness. The type of busyness that multiplied with the “flexibility” of checking emails on iPhones, “certainty” that comes when managing over 40 other busy people, and “passion” that demanded not just my time but my emotions. To add to our professional careers and home life, we were also very involved with our family and friends, were the college group leaders at our church, I led a weekly women’s Bible study, and was a co-leader of our church’s worship team. All “good” things, but did I ever stop to ask the Lord if they were the “best”? Well, if I were to do that, it would first require stopping and possibly waiting for an answer, and that was not quite in the box of my “super-mom/wife/woman” identity. The identity that busyness had proved worthy.
God was gracious to keep blessing our lives, but my list of things I wanted to do when I had more time just kept growing….set up sheet forts with the boys, take our dog out for a jog, cook a real dinner, clean my house during normal business hours, go to bed at the same time as my husband, go on a date night, read a book other than the book I would stay up to read until 1am the night before I had to lead the bible study, spend more time with my kids, spend more time with my husband, spend more time with the Lord, etc… I wanted to be the one standing in the well overflowing from my intimacy with my one true God, but instead I felt more like Gulliver on Gulliver’s Travels lying on the ground pinned down by thousands of tiny strings.
It wasn’t far into February when my precious husband came home from work one day and I was in the kitchen washing dishes. He started a beautiful conversation talking about all of the things he loved about our lives….our marriage, our children, our family and friends, our church, our house, our jobs. I was nodding my head along with every one of his statements, but in my motion the stillness of my spirit felt like it was waking up just a little bit, for I knew that these statements were the conversation starter and not a recap of our “best” world. He was very encouraging but when the pause came, I turned the water off and put the towel down and paused too. He then went on to say that although he was happy with the good in our stories, he felt empty and longed for the “more” that the Holy Spirit was stirring within his spirit. His dreamer self-began to light up. He started talking about going back to school, spending more time on his dreams of starting a non-profit. He started talking about taking classes online through a seminary to get a master’s in Ethics and Biblical Justice. He started talking about a seminary outside of Boston (not Austin) that had a program where we could live on campus. He stopped talking. My mind said, “act shocked”, “if you cry he will change his mind”, “go back to the dishes”, but in the stillness I felt myself walk over to him and land in his arms. It was time to go. It was time to look my thief in the eyes, the raider of my stillness, the stealer of my time, and the robber of my patience. I had allowed busyness an open door into my life. And what once was a concealable pet, quickly became a dragon that controlled much of my emotions, thoughts, and time. So together, we finally stopped and asked the Lord what His best was for our family.
We moved by the end of August of 2012. I cried for the first 500 miles. We said good-bye to everything that I knew and everything that I thought I knew. I said good-bye to everything I knew about me, and everything I thought that I knew about me. Like the growth of my children, the reality of how quickly routine can come and build a house on sand began to set in. The question was not how I allowed such a thing to happen, but if I was able and willing to stop in His stillness and wait for Him to take me step by step into this new routine, into His way of life.
As we moved 2000 miles away into an 800sq foot apartment on the campus of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts the Lord showed me the stillness in the midst of the chaos of making new friends, finding new jobs, new insurance, new grocery stores, new schools, a new church, etc… For the first 3 months there were more unknowns than knowns and more waiting than finding. But because of His graciousness, the Lord began to teach me how to stare busyness and its friends anxiety, worry, and fear, in the face.
My busyness had left no room for waiting, no room for patience. The earthly gray of my paradigms of God were the things producing a work in my life. I was living in “gray” when He has called me to live in hot and cold and black and white. In the midst of our transition I had some free time as I waited for my physical therapy license to transfer from Texas to Massachusetts. My husband started seminary, my oldest started Kindergarten, my youngest started a part time preschool, and I started doing the things that I had always said that I wanted to do when I had more time. I learned how to use a crock pot, started reading the Bible at Genesis 1, and went on long jogs through the beauty of the Fall in New England.
I spent the first few jogs just telling the Lord how I saw this craziness, my fears, emotions, what ifs, and allowing myself to grieve over my loss. I soon ran out of words and that is when the miracle happened. I could hear the stillness and I let my spirit rest in it. I was quiet. I stopped. He began. The truths from the words that I was reading from His word began to flood my thoughts and voice. Verses like Psalms 130:6 “My soul waits for you Oh Lord, more than watchman waits for the morning, Yes, more than watchman waits for the morning” and James 1: 2-5 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete and lacking nothing.” I began to speak out the words and what they meant. And in the camouflage of earphones and the woods, I began to hear my voice speak from the overflow of my intimacy with the Lord. I would say things like “I love to wait for you Lord”, “I was made to wait for you and to keep my eyes on you”, “Moving to Massachusetts is my joy”, “Not knowing how we will pay for our rent next month is my deep good because you know”, “In you I am patient and it is having its good work in me”, “You are worth waiting for”, “I am lacking nothing”, etc… How I saw myself changed, because I was seeing myself in the black and white of how He sees me. How I saw Him changed, because I was seeing God in the black and white of His word and not in the gray of culture, routine, and paradigms.
Most people think we have moved to Massachusetts for my husband to go to seminary, but I know that God moved us to save me from a story that was blind to my dragon of busyness. We all have a story. We all have a testimony. Busyness was my old story. He is my new story. What is yours?