How do you view your life?

Yesterday, I drove past a crash on a twisty country road.  Twenty minutes later, I arrived at my destination and discovered I had a completely flat rear tire.

I had to call breakdown recovery, and my membership had run out.  They discovered I had driven over a screw (pic).  They plugged the tire, I paid for my membership and the one off call out fee which it didn’t cover: £139.00. I was not expecting that.

Today, I had to buy two new rear tires (so they had equal treads).  £320 unexpected quid out of my budget. I was not expecting that.

This evening, my daughter got a last minute invitation. I dashed out of the house thinking I could drop her on my way to the grocery store to buy food for dinner and pick up my son.

After I dropped her, I couldn’t find my wallet. I looked under the seats, I checked the sidewalk. No shopping for me – had I lost it somewhere?? I was not expecting that.

I was so distracted worrying about the wallet, I rolled into the car in front of me at the traffic lights. In the rain, in the dark.  NO.  I jumped out.  No major damage but he had a little girl in the car and it had given them a hard bump. I had no wallet – so I had no details. I was not expecting that.

I got to my son – late.  I had kept the other mother waiting on her way to work, while I’d pranged someone else’s car.

How should I respond to all this?

Oh woe is me! I’m a single mother, all the pressure is on me, all the responsibility and all the provision!

Who leaves a bloody nail on the road?

Who loses their purse?

Why can’t I get it together?

OR

It “occurred” to me last week (Holy Spirit?) that I needed to renew my breakdown recovery membership. I forgot to do it.

I drove over a nail, and only discovered it when I had arrived in the driveway of a friend.

The breakdown recovery showed up quickly and found a nail in my tire, which he could plug.  I had money in my account to pay for the repair, and I got to renew my membership at the same time.

Today, I replaced my two rear tires.  It was expensive, but they should last for 30,000 miles and both tires were evidently wearing thin. And today (though the expense was unexpected) I have the money.

My daughter was unexpectedly invited by a friend.  A new friendship.  I was able to get her there.

I mislaid my purse and rolled into another car.  Mercifully no one was injured, and it woke me up to how distracted I was. Not only that but the driver – an Australian dad – was so incredibly kind to me. “It happens, don’t worry. I’ll call you tomorrow.” He believed me, he took my phone number.

When I picked up my son, the mother who was waiting was gracious.  “Here’s the £5 I owe you!” she said. I had forgotten.

I had needed my wallet to buy chicken for dinner and a lightbulb for my desk.  The chicken was on sale for £3.00 and when I got to the store for the lightbulb?  They were reduced by 2/3 to £1.00 a box and I could get two.

£5.00 to the penny.

Here’s what I think: I’m trying, but I fail.  On days like today, I feel like a hot mess. I am a hot mess. But you know what? I have a saviour who loves me JUST BECAUSE.

Nails happen.

I forget my purse.

I’m working with a budget.

I’m making mistakes.

I’m trying to be a good role model.

But what I’m really modelling is this.  I’m reliant on a Saviour who knows how many holes I have in my net, and that’s why He came.  I’m trying hard but I’ve only got me to work with.  And sometimes that is not too much. Without Him?  I’m actually doing nothing.

God got me to the driveway.

I had the money NOW to pay for membership.

I had the money NOW to pay for tires.

I make mistakes, I rolled into the car in front of me. I was distracted.  The man was gracious.

I lost my wallet. My mum friend gave me (unknowingly) the exact money I needed to feed my family and light my desk even so.

I’m home. We’re safe. We’re still moving forward.

God is good.

He‘s in the details.

He weaves the patterns of my days.

And my days are – so clearly in spite of myself – infused by grace.

When I got home, I found my wallet on the kitchen table.  Where I’d left it as we ran out the door.

How do you view your life?

I view my life as the very imperfect existence of a human being in the hands of a gracious, forgiving, redemptive God.

How about you?

 

jsg/jan 18

 

 

 

Weighted.

“Don’t be daunted.” I hear the whisper in my head. “Focus on This.  This day.  This moment.  This task. This intention.”

I glance at the New Year and look down again quickly.  It’s too much.  Not humanly possible. Not for me.

I stare at the ceiling and consider the weight of my own responsibilities. I feel their heft.  All on me.

Nothing to do but lie down and close my eyes to sleep.

Suddenly my eyes shoot open. I feel the substance of the load, but it is balanced. How come I feel it sit squarely and steadily upon my shoulders? My body bracing it? How come I am not crushed or flailing?

I lie and wait to understand before I get it. The load is balanced because it does not fall solely on me. I am yoked. There is another side.

My side, my weight, keeps me in place.  Close.

“Ohhh,” I sigh. “OK.”

I wait for Your lead.  I cannot fling myself forward or flail around blindly or throw everything at the wall or look back and agitate. My load will chafe.

However, if I move when You move?  Do as You do? See what You see? Think as You think?

Oh OK. That — I can see — is doable.

I am reminded now.  We can do this.

Together.

 

josie/dec 17

 

 

Determined.

‘In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.’ Proverbs 16:9

When I left the house this morning, I caught sight of a small snail half way up the glass panel in the back door.

IMG_0576

“Blimey,” I thought. “Look how far he’s got. Just by sheer determination.”

IMG_0575

It was truly impressive. I left him where he was.  I couldn’t bear to put all that hard work to waste.

I went off to look at a possible house for me and my kids.  As I stood by my car trying to find the address on my phone, a small blue car came speeding down the street and smashed off my side mirror. They never stopped.

I was in shock. “Really?” I thought. “I mean, really?

IMG_0578

I wanted to give up.  To burst into tears.  To get back in my car and drive home.

But there is no home, that’s why I’m out here trying to find one.

So I took a moment, then retrieved the cover of my mirror thrown across the bonnet. It blessedly snapped back on and the mirror snapped back into place.

I wiped my eyes, turned on my heel and walked toward the house I was going to see. Unharmed. Untouched. Still moving.

When I got back to the house where we are, someone had plucked the snail off the door.

Who knows where he is now.  All that hard work for nothing.

But then,

he didn’t have the kind of protection I’ve got.

 

jsg/oct 17

 

Truly Supported.

imgres

 

Michelangelo carved his ‘Piéta’ out of a solid block of Carrara marble in 1500 at the age of 23. The story goes that when he was asked how he’d done it, Michelangelo replied, “I just took away everything that wasn’t the Piéta.”

One wonders if this was his first try. Had he first started out with another piece of marble and made a mistake?  Sort of “Oh, bugger. Now he shall be handless.”

History doesn’t relate but, thankfully, the One who is carving me does not make mistakes.  Which is just as well, because the cutting is getting awfully deep. He is carving away some of the crucial support I always thought was there.  Was part of me.

It is not so much that He is removing sources of support, but allowing me to discover they were not sources at all. I have been looking for support, for affirmation, for comfort, for refuge, for encouragement, in all the wrong places.  Right assessment, just wrong approach.

It must have been almost as painful for Him to watch me discover this as it has been for me to experience it.

I have not enjoyed discovering where I’m mistaken.  The process has been by trial and error and is painful, frustrating, perplexing and repetitive.  I have gone to a presumed source of support over and over and over again expecting to meet supply, only to be disappointed.  I have been slow on the uptake in some instances. When it’s not there, instead of letting go I have thought: “No, no, Josie, try again! YOU are the problem! Support should come from here!  Change your attitude and you will find it.”

Buuuuut no! CRASH. BANG. CRACK. DROP. Face down.

When my expectation of support has crashed down in flames like the Hindenburg, I have looked to comfort myself like a starving baby in other ways. I try to make myself as “comfortable” as I am able. But this doesn’t bring me comfort, I can’t comfort myself. Not with real comfort.  My appetites only serve to reveal my hungers not assuage them.   

The discovery of false sources of support has been like the dismantling of scaffolding that I thought held me in place in the world. Scaffolding which turns out not to be able to hold my weight.

All man-made or man-centric scaffolding buckles under a task it’s not built for.

When false support buckles, you either slump into a pool of cellular jelly OR you discover the interior scaffolding that does actually hold you up.

The interior scaffolding that is affected by nothing externally. Real scaffolding which tells me who I am and how I’m loved.  Scaffolding that tells me I’m not a mistake and I’m hugely valuable.  Scaffolding that reminds me I’m not without hope.   Scaffolding that enables me to stand and look out to see who I’m meant to be in the world. Because I can now hold my head up to see.  Without any false scaffolding obscuring my view.

Interior scaffolding, custom-designed, gives me a robustness and a strength and support nothing and no one in this world can provide nor take from me. Things that the people I ran to could not have given me anyway.  Even if they’d been perfect.  It’s not their fault.

Interior scaffolding is not something I can make for myself or anyone else can give me.  It is scaffolding I can only receive from the Builder Himself.

So OK, Lord.  Painful as it is – sometimes shocking – please continue to take away all the false scaffolding in my life.  Take it all away to leave only what is truly me. And only truly You.

img_0484

You are my true support.

 

jsg/oct 17