Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tucking In {Order amidst the Chaos}

Mission in Carmel, California
Embarrassing episodes have a way of cutting to the chase.  Maybe how we RESPOND to embarrassing episodes allow a small peak into our personalities, our character and how we are really doing at the moment.  I can’t say I’ve had many in my life- embarrassing moments.  I play it pretty safe— always have, so I’ve not had much practice at the response, but last week took me by surprise.  Come to think of it, much has taken me by surprise lately.

We had the delight of hosting two dancers from Ballet Magnificat last weekend who were in town for a performance of the ballet, Deliver Us, the story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt.  I was so impressed with these young women, Emily and Sarah.  Their love for Christ glowed in their faces and was evident in their conversation around the dinner table but shone its brightest when they danced Friday evening in the performance.  I was in awe of the company’s giftedness and the way they led us in worship as they danced.  {GO SEE THEM when you get the chance!!}

Okay so, on to the other…

During intermission, I left my seat to sit with Julia a minute who was sitting with friends a section over and a few rows up.  I returned to my seat after a bit and not 15 seconds later, Julia is beside me in Jeff’s seat.  She leans over and says,”Mom, your dress is tucked in your shorts.”  {Shorts being modesty shorts {aka sliding shorts}— my dress was not short but it had been an extremely windy day and like I said earlier, I play it safe.}  Ugh.  I played it pretty cool with Julia— thanked her and wrangled around in my seat to untuck the mess— and she left.  However, the longer I sat there and thought about the route I’d taken AFTER I had been to the bathroom and the moving around during the intermission, the worse I got.  Jeff and Brighton returned and B misses NOTHING.  “What’s wrong, Momma?”  I couldn’t speak.  I was holding back an unexpected pool of waters that had gathered behind my eyes.  Tears?!?  What in the world was wrong with me?  I tried to go the mad route in order to ward off the spillage. However, the more questions, the higher the waters got.  The more kindness shown to me, the lowers the walls became.  Spillage.  It was the longest intermission ever.  I just wanted the lights to go off.  To nurse my misery in darkness.

See, I am not a crier.  For me, anger usually comes before such emotions and so, I knew I was in a mess when I completely skipped the usual route.  As I had unsuccessfully tried to hold back the tears, I knew what my problem was.  I had allowed myself to become so tightly strung, so weary emotionally, so chaotic in my spirit, I could not gather myself up and bring order to my emotions.  I was not surprised.  It was no one’s fault by my own.

I really wanted to blame the kids.  They had made it an extremely difficult few weeks.  No details needed because every parent can relate.  We all have great kids that can make some pretty foolish decisions.  The more mine make now at 12 and 14 I see as little victories so maybe there will be less later when the stakes are higher.  Who really knows but it brings some comfort to me at the present.  We had been experiencing the first part of Hebrews 12:11—“No discipline seems pleasant at the time…” -- in hopes of the “harvest of righteousness and peace.”!!  NO PARENT enjoys placing consequences on their kids.  Okay, well, maybe we relish doling it out in the moment but when it lasts for days and everyone’s heart SEEMS soft, you just want to lift it all and be done with it. Over the last few weeks, I think I had let some fear in— like, “What if this never ends?”  “What if they never learn the lesson?”  “What if we’ve got it all wrong and mess this whole thing up?”  And every day, in the Word or out of it, I was letting it get the best of me and Friday night, the skirt tangled up in the shorts, was the last straw for my emotionally weary self.

And here’s the best part.  Of course, I was studying to teach Women’s Bible Study at my church.  It was Friday and I taught on Wednesday.  I love to study and God has been faithful to TEACH ME from this great book of Exodus.  I am aware of the concept of His teaching me before I get to teach anyone else and even Friday afternoon  -pre-embarrassing moment-  when I was on the phone with Jeff trying to get some parenting confidence and comfort from him, he asked me again to consider what the Lord might be teaching me in all of my studying— what it may have to do with what I was experiencing.

Of course he did. It was an apt challenge.

Though in the moment I didn’t take it.

Of course I didn’t.  It was a foolish refusal.

I did eventually.  As I studied to teach on the tabernacle in the wilderness I learned how it was an earthly representation of a heavenly reality.  It was a refuge of order in the chaos of the wilderness.  His space, His creation was to be a piece of heaven on earth.  Order amidst the chaos of the world.  The tabernacle was the orderly space and the means with which He connected with His people.  Then Jesus came on the earth and as John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”  “Made His dwelling” is derived from the word tabernacle.  Jesus was the piece of heaven on earth, the one to bring order to the chaos, the means by which people were to connect with God.  After the resurrection, how were His people to connect with Him?  He left us Holy Spirit who resides where?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  I Corinthians 6:19-20

Within us.  A most intimate connection.

So even we can reflect a piece of heaven on earth.  Order from the chaos tucked right within us. A sacred space.  An ordered place.  And we all know it— because we’ve all experienced it, when we take the time to pull away and just BE with Him, we feel it.  Him.  Holy Spirit.  Setting all things right again.  Order amidst the chaos.  A beautiful reflection of Him to the chaotic world around us.   A piece of heaven on earth.

Friday night, I was not that reflection.  I was a fragile, weary, foolish girl who had not sat in His Presence long enough for Him to restore the order, to change the perspective.  I was too busy trying to order my tangible circumstances {most of which I had no control} subconsciously thinking that would ease my inner chaos.  {Big fat lie.}  But by His glorious grace, as I’ve seen so many times with the Israelites in the desert, He’s there to hear my repentance, to forgive my sins, give me the humility to set things right with my family and enjoy a sweet connection with Him again.

He’s pursued connection with us since the Garden of Eden— condescending to us until He is as close as possible.  Right within us.  Tuck into the tabernacle within you, the dwelling place of His Spirit.  Allow Him to order your chaos.

1 comment:

Patti said...

Can I share a moment of humiliated solidarity? This happened to me. At Texas A&M. In 1993. I was about to graduate, and had some interviews for teaching jobs at the on-campus employment center. I was wearing a flowy floral-print dress with a linen blazer. White panty hose (remember those?). No modesty shorts. I had been to the bathroom, waltzed up a sweeping staircase, and walked into a huge reception room full of hundreds of other students interviewing for jobs. I was signing in, when I heard a whisper behind me. It was a friend I had met student teaching. "Patti. It's Adrienne. I am just going to pull your skirt out of your panty hose." As I felt that dress billow back down, you can imagine that I pondered not turning around, and instead slinking out of the employment center, never to return. My face is prickling with the memory--23 years later. I decided to stay, but, like you, I was teary and shaky. My first interview was with Highland Park. I wasn't from Dallas, but I knew enough. I bombed. That one, and the other three. I did not get a job that day.

So. It did become a funny anecdote at some point. I did learn a deep lesson about humility. Now we are in a sisterhood--the sisterhood of the not-meant-to-be-seen pants??