Last week I turned thirty-eight. I spent the weekend in simple but meaningful celebration...a date night with my husband, dinner with good friends and officiating a small wedding. It was a good birthday. On the way home from the wedding Mark and I got into a discussion that lead into a full blown argument. It got heated very quickly and words were flying and emotions high. I cried and cried. Partly because of the fight partly because it was my birthday and we are not supposed to fight on my birthday! We continued to fight the whole way home and then more after that. By the time we went to bed that night we had worked it out but it felt like it put a damper on the weekend.
The next morning I woke up feeling heavy. Mark and I were on good terms but I still felt the lingering emotions from the night before. Mark, Eden and I went for a little walk after we got the kids on the bus. It was a very foggy morning as we walked down the back lane of the farm. It was like we were inside of a cloud the air was so thick. The sun was just starting to peek through as we walked. I was crying and sharing how heavy I felt. We looked up and saw what looked like an arch in the sky...it was a rainbow in the midst of the fog. We stopped in our tracks, marveling at the beauty. Eden tugged at our arms. "Mommy, Daddy, I feel like God put the rainbow in the sky to tell us everything is going to be okay". I began to bawl. Out of the mouth of a child, the word of the Lord. I felt His nearness in her words. He meets us in the fog and heaviness. His promise is that everything is going to be okay. He is okay with it being messy and foggy and confusing sometimes. There is so much grace.
I have had this album on repeat lately and this chorus speaks to me everytime: "There is nothing I can do that will ever make you love me more. There's nothing I could do that would ever make you love me less." This is the voice of the Father. A picture of His heart for us. I often have trouble believing that...like deep down in my soul believing it. I think one reason I have trouble really trusting the truth of those words stems from the unrealistic expectations I put on myself and those around me. Social media and perfectionism only feeds that disproportioned view of what life should look like. There is a constant pressure I can feel to get it all right. But when I truly believe the words of that song and walk through life with that knowledge tucked in my heart, it changes everything.
Yesterday we had church as a family. Before you get the wrong idea of us sitting around singing hymns and reading scriptures, usually our church looks more like real life as we try to share some thoughts about God while someone burps and somebody else falls off their chair at the table. We talked about how we best connect with God. What things bring us peace and life. Almost all of us mentioned nature and hiking as a way we feel close to the Father. We decided to go on hike as a family at our favorite trail. As we all got our sweatshirts and sneakers on to get ready there was a lot of fighting and chaos as we tried to get out the door. I leaned over to Mark and jokingly said "I think I actually connect with God best by myself".
I was only half kidding. I can feel at peace and rest when the house is quiet, I have a hot cup of coffee and my thoughts are alone. And God often feels close in those moments. But that is also not reality of a majority of my days. God is there in the midst of the fighting and attitudes and less than perfect conditions. He is there when we lose it and there is nothing I can ever do to make Him love me less. I also tend to feel better about myself and our lives when the house is clean and everyone is on there best behavior, using their manners and being overall cute. But what is that really saying? I am trying to re-train my eyes to see God in those less than ideal moments, to feel the Father's heart saying in the fog and thickness of life "It's okay. I AM here. There's so much grace."
As I was sitting here typing this very blog entry, I heard rustling and knocking coming from the kitchen. I left my seat at the desk and peeked around the corner to see a bird banging at the kitchen window trying to get out. It was confused and kept flying right into the glass thinking that was the means of escape. It must have flown through our broken screen door and now was trapped. With the help of Eden we were able to chase the bird back out the door into freedom. It was simple really. We just opened the door. I often can feel like that bird stuck in my mind banging around on the window trying to get free. When all I need to do is open the door to freedom and grace and I am set free. There's so much grace.