[bl]E[/bl]verything in me was building. It had been so for a few days now. It’s an emotional experience that seems out of my control. Like a monster is growing inside of me, feeding off my frustrations and irritations until it’s strong enough to take me over and use my body for its evil purposes.
I’m not sure the children were exceptionally loud or argumentative. I just think I was exceptionally less patient and gracious. When Mark arrived home, I ran. Literally. I threw my running shoes on and headed down my driveway. Two darling toddlers attempted to follow me but I left them in the dust. What I needed was distance. So I kept running further and further from my house. And with every step that took me farther from home, I could breathe a little easier.
You see, in addition to loud children and a husband working long hours, I have this virtual piece of paper with boxes telling me what to do. The nerve of it! September is full. So is October. Many people thrive with deadlines and boundaries and time management goals. I don’t. I panic. Schedules make my heart race and my chest constrict. We’re a family who sleeps in, arrives late and spontaneously accepts and extends offers. We totally clash with schedules. Our behavior isn’t irresponsible or rebellious. It’s rather intentional. We strive to live in our moments the best we can without always looking to the next thing. However, we also realize that some level of submission to the ways of our culture must happen in order to engage the world and our community with love and truth.
So my guess is, the monster inside of me wasn’t fighting against me, but for me. It was raging out in defeat. To the school schedule. To the activities. To Mark’s increased hours. To structure. To earlier mornings. To less social events. To the end of sunshine.
And so I ran. Running and praying down the dirt road that took me up and down gentle hills, past a farm with horses grazing, past Adam and Kelly’s new home and straight into a down pour of rain. I slowed to a walk and kept praying. That God would give me what I need to faithfully approach this season.
The rain began to soak me. That’s what I need. For God to drench me in his grace so when my energy and offerings empty out of me, his grace fills me, replenishes me with more that I might give more.
I started to run again, this time through the stretch of dirt road where the rows of trees that grow on each side reach and stretch toward one another, creating a canopy that covered me from the rain. That’s what I need. A covering. A covering of God’s spirit that will shelter me from down pours of my flesh. The flooding of wanting privacy, wanting comfort, wanting new clothes, wanting to disengage. May God’s spirit protect me from my very self. From wanting what I want, instead of what he wants.
At this point I had gone four miles, still two miles from home. And my ability to run in order to get there quicker was failing me, so I walk. There was nothing left to do but surrender to the moment. To the rain. To the inability to run far. To the distance from home that I thought I wanted. That’s what I need. Surrender. Surrender to my reality. Surrender to the moment God has me. Surrender my spirit to the Trustworthy One. It’s his spirit anyway. Why wouldn’t I trust him to grow it, heal it and restore it?
So I pick up the pace to a slow jog believing God would give me the energy and strength to finish the distance. The distance I created. I notice the bright pink sky slowing fading into the earth. And I offer him gratitude for his colorful grace. I run one more mile, with one more to go.
Isn’t that just how it goes? We’re able to endure longer when we are thankful for what is given to us.
Just ahead I see lights shining through the darkness that’s beginning to settle. A truck pulls up in front me and a very familiar and handsome face is exposed by the descending wet window.
Want a ride?
Isn’t that just how it goes? Salvation comes after surrender. When we relinquish our control and submit to the will of God, his light pierces our darkness and he offers to take us the rest of the way.
I write these words for my Friday hospitality post to remind us that when we consider hospitality, we must extend an openness to ourselves. A hospitality of self.
What does this look like?
It means understanding our limits, while believing that God can refill, restore and prepare us for more.
It means discovering the ways we are fulfilled. Pampering helps, but only momentarily. Better than manicures or highlights or chocolate or movie watching, is carving out time and money for relationships, experiences and disciplines that more genuinely fill our soul.
A hospitality of self also means making yourself available to being received by others. That you become the recipient. The one welcomed and fed. This is one way God fills you — through his people and their provision of encouragement, food, and resources. Submit to this part of hospitality. The part when you’re not the giver.
A hospitality of self might include:
Making time to read in quiet.
Excepting an invitation – maybe the Lord wants to feed you through this person or event
Engaging in a meaningful conversation with someone
Sitting down to pray with your children
Taking a fifteen minute break from work or school in order to walk
Stopping to notice God’s grace all around you and counting them, writing them, sharing them
Cooking a meal that is satisfying to you, rather than pleasing to your family
Expressing (rather suppressing) your frustration so it doesn’t build and explode
Beginning your day with gratitude
Pairing a desire of the flesh with a filling of the spirit. Example: drink your morning latte while reading God’s word. Or if you need to disengage — call a friend rather than surf the internet.
Saying yes if you need help and someone offers to be available
Letting the fruit of your labor and love satisfy your heart
Getting a massage (it’s so not pampering). It revitalizes the body, which is deeply connected to the soul
And, now that I’ve done it….running in the rain. As it turns out it’s quite refreshing. We started school the next day. My out pour of energy and prayer was just what I needed to face the sacrifice of the next day.
Enjoy your weekend! And do something hospitable for yourself…