What It Looks Like From Inside the Soil: a plea from those of us about to sprout

insidethesoil

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine told me that the conferences and camps we had been part of as teenagers and young adults had done us a disservice. They had built up this idea that we could choose to be better than, greater than our parents and the generations before us. We could choose NOW to give our lives for Christ instead of waiting until we were married or had kids or were older. So many of us did.

Between the hundreds of opportunities for service over the summer and the rallies that we attended, you’d think that there would have been an overwhelming surge of Gospel-driven twenty-something’s.

And there is. And there isn’t.

When my friend wrote those words to me, they were from a place of dissatisfaction with the church and the lack of place for our young, passionate hearts. They were pretty spot on.

There’s a whole generation that’s been raised to believe that we only have today. YOLO, right? Either you’re building the Kingdom or you’re tearing it down. No one mentioned that building the Kingdom can look a lot like taking care of 3 kids, day in and day out. Or getting up and going to the same job each day because that’s where the real training begins. No one said that the day-to-day activities still had to go on, that you still need to survive in this world, that you probably won’t get your dream job right off the bat.

Our generation, like the ones before us, were supposed to be better. We were supposed to do things the right way the first time.

Instead, my college graduating class and the years following had the worst time finding jobs in our field  in recent history. That includes my husband and many of our friends. We’re honestly just trying to make it most days. Forget passions. Forget dreams. We’re working with average salary, plenty of debt despite our best efforts to avoid it, and daily life that just wears away from that thing we thought we had to live for: passion.

I want to say that I get it. That many in the generation before us didn’t have the inclination to follow their dreams. Or they were told that their dreams were bad and didn’t fit in. Maybe they were told that their dreams should take the backburner for a while. So they held on tenaciously to them because no one else believed in them?

The major difference seems to be just that. We have everyone telling us that our dreams are good and right and honorable, so obviously we should just go for them. Jump in. Take a risk. The time is NOW. YOLO.

But there’s this idea that we really only talk about around Christmas: the fullness of time.

Before something great can happen, if God is in it, all of the pieces must be lined up first. Every. Single. One. In the waiting and the hemming and the hawing, we can forget that. Before our passions can come to fruition, there must be a seed planted. There must be a daily watering, a constant care, before the seedling sprouts.

I’m afraid that, in our desire to make God great, we have forgotten that He first has to plant us. A seed is buried. A seed can’t see what’s happening in the dark, only that it’s very, very dark. It keeps growing, though no one can see it sprout. And even when it has sprouted, it takes a while to determine exactly how tall the plant will reach or what kind of plant it even is. Fruit comes much later.

The whole earth echoes with this theme. While we are to number our days and use them intentionally, God alone knows when and how our passions and dreams will show fruit. It takes time for a seed to become a fruit-bearing tree. It takes even more time for a newborn to become an adult. Our spiritual lives aren’t any different.

So. If you’re a millennial looking for affirmation or confirmation for your dreams, keep growing. Keep dreaming. Just. Keep. On. And if you know a millennial who struggles, encourage them. Life them up. Pray for them. We don’t need platitudes; we need people who will be Jesus to us. And us young wives and moms need older women who will come alongside us and mentor us.

Seriously. Like, for real. Mentor us. Please. We need to know how to do this day-in and day-out life without ceremonies and education goals. We need to know how to keep a sure and steady pace in the marathon of life. We’ve been sprinting, and now we’ve hit this wall. It’s so easy to give up and become discouraged. We need you.

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Frayed Nerves and Fairy Tales

Once upon a time, I married a youth minister. We were young, in love, and passionate about ministry as a whole. We had been Pastor’s Kids, raised in ministry and still in love with the Church. We had experienced the pitfalls and the frustrations of ministry, so we thought we were covered.

And then life happened.

Church politics played against us in a very critical time for us. We were hurt by the people who were supposed to have our best interests at heart. Taking the metaphor of the sheep and shepherd, our shepherd saw that my leg was busted and then proceeded to make me walk several miles.

I wish I were joking.

And the other sheep in his care looked at me as if I were crazy for being upset that my leg was busted. I don’t blame them: they were responding based on the shepherd’s care. When we finally left that flock, I was bruised and battered. And still we held on.

We kept doing ministry. We kept serving others. Because isn’t that what good sheep do? No one told us that it was okay to lay low for a while. No one said that we could rethink this whole ordeal. So we kept going.

We didn’t immediately join another church or adopt another ministry, but the ministry mindset is hard to break. When you’re called to it, you can’t do anything but that. It’s almost like an addiction, and I can’t say for sure if it’s the helping people that’s addicting or the finding yourself in how others see you. Either way, it can be a dangerous game.

We did join another church, eventually. And then another. For two years, we poured ourselves into the second church, standing against opposing mindsets and, truth be told, spinning our wheels, trying to achieve our ideals in a congregation that, frankly, didn’t really want them.

We left that church just over a month ago.

And it’s been so freeing.

For once, we’re figuring out how we work as a couple, not as a ministry. For once, we’re looking at our lives wholeheartedly instead of compartmentalized. For once, we aren’t watching our words so carefully because someone may take a snippet of what we said and run with it. For once, we don’t have an agenda…and for once, we aren’t pawns in a political game.

This past month, we’ve been wrestling in the unknown. We don’t know where to go. We don’t know what serving God will look like for our family once we’ve wrestled with Him. We don’t see the end result.

What we do see is a subtle shift in our family life and in our life as a couple. What we do see is hope in each other’s eyes. What we do see is a resolve to stand firm, to let our roots grow deep, and to reclaim the life that we have together.

Last week, my husband totaled his car. On Monday. Before work. By Thursday, he had a new truck, one he’d always wanted. We are seeing God open doors that had been shut. We know that the doors that He shuts are ones that we don’t want to walk through. Despite frayed nerves, there’s an overwhelming peace in our lives that God is working, especially in the ways that we don’t see.

Right now, our prayer is for direction. It has been for over a year, yet the pieces still haven’t fallen into place. We trust God’s timing, though, and we believe that we’re seeing Him move in mighty ways. Each victory feels like a huge one, and each week brings about a hundred more challenges. And yet we stand, victorious.  We are more than conquerors, friends. And that’s no fairy tale.

A Blue Jean Liturgy

outside, I’m in jeans,
stick in hand,
I dig holes.
fill jean pockets with rocks.
forge rivers and streams
from the hose.

dirt on knees,
dirt on jeans,
streaks and stripes,
mud and mischief,
worn as a holy covering.

jeans age, thin.
they stretch.
again and
again and
again
these paneled jeans wear
till they fade from my closet,
a prayer.

outside, she’s in jeans.
stick in hand,
she digs holes.
fills jean pockets
with rocks from the earth.

 

This is my contribution to T. S. Poetry’s Mischief Cafe theme for April: Show us your (poetry) jeans

I am a Crawfish

I’m not usually a middle-of-the-fight writer. I like to wait until the dust has settled before writing about it. It’s less messy, the lessons are clearer, and I can outline the heck out of a post. (Before you freak out about my super awesome note-taking skills, I do it all in my head. Wait…that somehow doesn’t seem any better…carry on…)

But this post just won’t go away.

A couple of weeks ago, Drew stepped down from the leadership at our church. He had been an elder and the student minister. His positions had become a burden on our family that we couldn’t bear anymore. On top of that, he felt the Spirit leading him to what his calling always has been–speaking. The goals are pretty straightforward: get him to preach and speak in our area and in others.

The acting on those goals? Not so simple.

It’s a slow process, one that we’re taking daily. Just one step at a time, really.

Guys, it’s driving me crazy.

I prefer laid out plans. Goals with the five steps we need to achieve them. Not this waiting around for God to move  stuff.

But here’s the kicker: I really thought I was okay with this.

I know this is what God has for us. I know that my husband has been gifted for THIS. And, truth be told, I’m sick and tired of waiting for him to get up and get going. (Or for God to tell him what to do. Or whatever.)

I’ve waited for this exact moment. And now I’m mad that it’s here.

Hormones are great, yes? Emotions too, amen?

I’ve been flat-out mad for the past few days. Why? Because things aren’t going the way I want them to, and I’m frustrated by it.

Guys? I’m so stinkin mature. Obvs.

But I am learning something. I’m learning that my safe place, my comfort zone, is in predictability. I prefer knowing exactly what’s coming and how it’s going to work out. I love seasons and holidays and, yes, liturgy. If my dad hadn’t left the Catholic Church, I might have become a nun. True story. Predictability is my sweet spot.

You’d think, with 3 kiddos ages 4 and under, that I’d have gotten that idea out of my pretty little head by now. No. In fact, I still cling to it. I have a death grip on stability, y’all. At least how my mind comprehends it.

Yet here I am, saying that it’s time to let go.

I still don’t know what that means, exactly. And I’m still terrified by it. But I’m more terrified of clinging to hard to my comfort zone that Drew doesn’t get to live out his mission. That I miss my own calling because stability sounds nice and warm and cozy.

You know what else is nice and warm and cozy? The pot of water they boil crawfish in. Just sayin’.

I’m still not ready to jump out of the pot. But at least I’m awake now.

In Which I Compare Writing to Coffee

It’s been several weeks since I’ve sat down to type anything out here. I took a break, and when I came back to the web, I found that I didn’t want to occupy this space here anymore.

I wanted something new, something fresh, something that would blow people’s minds.

Imagine my shock when my husband said no! No? No.

Instead of starting over, I’ve been percolating. I’ve been thinking through this blog, why I have it, what state I’ve brought it to. I’ve let the words and the ideas sit and soak, not willing to filter them out just yet. And I’ve thought long and hard about just giving it all up.

But. I can’t. I’m a writer, through and through. I write when I can’t think. I write when I can. I write to clear my mind, to state the thoughts that lie in a dormant part of my mind, to wake up myself to my own ideas and beliefs. I can’t quit writing. I’ve tried.

No, blogging is not writing in its simplest form. It’s sharing words with others. And it’s scary when not many read them. Like any other art, if someone else isn’t buying into it, the thought creeps in that what the artist creates isn’t important. That it never was.

I’m slowly learning that, yes,  it is. All of it is.

No, it may not change the lives of hundreds of people. It may not encourage the next great author or poet or painter. These words may never live on. But they will live.

And if I create something that makes a difference in my life, it’s worth it.

Slowly, I’ll start letting the percolated brew drip down into this space. Be careful: it’s concentrated.