act your age

Well someone might as well have whirled right around and punched me in the stomach the way the air rushed right out of me and that sickish feeling started churning around right there in the very core of me.

It isn’t a nice feeling.

The last time I had that feeling it was looks across tables and harsh words whispered in ears so the teacher wouldn’t hear what those girls really thought about me. It was the mean looks and the harsh whispers and the “you can’t sit with us,” just like Regina George would say. I was 10 or 11. I write that now and I’m thinking I was that young? And the hurt felt so big.

It didn’t feel any smaller at 25.

But at 25, you have to do something. Because when you’re 25, you’re big and you’re grown, and you are supposed to act your age.

 

When, in the name of the healer they hurt you.

When the place that should bring wholeness brings brokenness.

When gentleness is replaced by recklessness.

 

Even then, especially then, you have to act your age.

 

And the next morning, when I woke up with that sickish feeling still churning and I sat in that rocking chair with my baby girl in my arms and my big girl sprawled on the floor reading books, And I wondered how on earth am I going to act my age? And I started singing because it makes baby girl smile and big girl giggle. And then the words coming out of my mouth wrap right around me like the sweet Savior’s warm arms.

 

“Jesus Christ

Shine into our night

Drive our dark away

Till your glory fills our eyes.

Jesus Christ

Shine into our night

Bind us to your cross

Where we find life.”

 

This is what it means to act our age, to grow up in our faith. That when that sickish stomach feeling is churning and those words are echoing, begging us to feel that hurt all over again, to cling to it and remember how someone did us wrong, we choose to look at Jesus. Because we know that the very same way Jesus’ love covers our own ugly sin, it covers those sins that get done to us. And when we think about and we wonder how we will ever address that situation or how we will live in peace, we remember that Jesus’ sacrifice is just as sufficient for those sins done to us as it is for those sins we do. And that his grace fills us, even when hurt tries to empty us. And that in our very dying to that ugly desire to make them feel that very same hurt they made us feel, that very same breath-emptying, heart shredding, stomach churning ache, we join Jesus right up on that cross, and he breathes that air right back into us, draws that heart right back together, and calms that stomach churning the way he calmed the salty sea all those long years ago.

And it turns out that act your age doesn’t mean that we pretend nothing bad ever happened. It doesn’t mean we ignore injustice or we go around justifying meanness. It means that we choose to say yes to everything that Jesus did. That we choose to believe that the wounds of our sweet Lord are just as much for the things done to us as for the things we do to others. We say yes to everything he promises he will do, even when the story doesn’t look like it could possibly end well. It means we say yes to letting that gospel light be the thing that fills up our senses when we want to gaze at the masterpiece of our own self-pity. It means that we say no to a grievance story and yes to a nourishing story.

Act your age means that we believe that Jesus knew what he was doing when he showed us that running to death is really running to life. 

Broken and Grateful

This post is the first in a ten week series called Ten Weeks of Tuesdays If you’re participating, share a link to your post in the comments. 

I recently bought one of those mirror things you mount in your backseat so that you can see your sweet baby’s face in your rearview mirror while you’re driving.  And today, I was driving and thinking. And obviously listening to music.  At a stoplight, my eyes wandered to that rearview mirror and misted over.

“I can’t help but reflect on what it was I almost lost
What it was I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and grateful”*

I almost feel like I don’t even need to add any more to this post.  Anyone who has read more than one of my blog posts probably knows what happened to me after I finished college. What happened to my dreams and my plans for myself. And I bet some of you are ready to shut off your computer and say, “just get over it.”

But I tried to.

I can’t.

And I don’t want to.

I don’t ever want to forget how I made what was supposed to be service and obedience and mission an idol to my pride.

I don’t want to forget how it hurt to have that deep love for and devotion to something other than Jesus ripped from my heart.

I don’t want to forget how dark it was when my eyes were focused on my pride, and how bright Jesus was when he finally, finally revealed himself.

I always want to remember how, right there, in the middle of my pride and confusion and sadness. Right while I was struggling and crying and praying, Jesus finally answered. When the time was ripe. Just how he wanted to.

I want to remember that it wasn’t in line with my plan.

It didn’t make financial sense, success-oriented life sense, human sense. But it was just what Jesus wanted.

I don’t ever want to forget the joy of living in the good of God’s great gifts. How he heals, protects, provides, and strengthens, even when we have no. idea. where we are going.

I don’t ever want to forget how he turned my wailing into dancing.

I don’t ever want to forget the way that He taught me. So gently, so patiently, so faithfully. That he is good and he is holy and he is enough.

I’m not talking about living in the past. I’m talking about living in the fullness of the faithfulness of God. Every time I look at my daughter, I’m reminded of God’s grace, his faithful discipline, and his great love.  I don’t ever want to slip into thinking that this is commonplace, that I somehow deserved this.

We talk a lot about how God can heal our brokenness. But there are at least a few places in the Bible where things were broken for good. Jesus’ body, for one example.

I don’t want to be afraid of living broken.

“I want to be broken, peaceful, faithful, grateful, grateful”*

*what I thought I wanted, Sara Groves

There is Always a Way.

I recently had the opportunity to join some amazing women for a panel discussion with some college students.  One of the questions we were prepared for was this one: “If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self something, what would it be?”  Oh, the possibilities! Now, my twenty-year-old self isn’t much younger than my present-day self, but I feel like I have a lot to say.

Dear 20-year-old self,

Enjoy this time.  Enjoy being stressed out by papers and long chapters to read.  Enjoy watching LOST for 12 hours in a row and not feeling guilty.  Enjoy being able to stay up until 2 am every night.  Enjoy it.  Enjoy the fact that when people ask you what you’re doing with your life, you have a nice short, sweet answer to give them.  Enjoy no one taking you seriously.  Enjoy it.

Up until now, you’ve probably felt a lot of pressure to figure our where your life is going.  Think about the questions you’ve been asked since you were a child.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “Where are you going to college?” “What are your plans for after graduation?”  All of those questions deal with the direction of your life.

Somewhere along the way, someone told you that you needed to find the magic key to your life.  They called it your dream.  They told you to live it.  To chase it.  To spend yourself in pursuit of it.  They told you not to give up on it.  To hold on to it.

So you came to college to work on your dream.  To throw yourself into everything that you hope your life will be.  Why?  So that you can give a good answer to people who ask you about your plans for after graduation?  So that everyone around you can see what a full life you’re living?  Out of obedience to God?  To meet your full potential?

Let me tell you something no one else is going to tell you.  Knowing what your life is about is so much more important than knowing where your life is going.  Where your life is going can change in an instant.  car crash.  fire.  rejection letter.  pregnancy test.  marriage. recession. cutbacks. war.  All it takes is one moment outside of your control.  Your dream flickers and the light goes out.  In an instant, the map is blank.  Your life is going nowhere.  You have no choice but panic.  You have no option but to frantically map out a new dream.

But what if you know what your life is about?  What if your life is about being faithful to a God who doesn’t need you to chart a map?  make a plan?  chase your dream?

There is always a way to be faithful to God.

Always.

When the dream flickers and dies.  When the house is gone.  When the war begins.  When the bank account is empty.  There is always a way to be faithful to God. Always.

Please, please remember that what you’re doing right now isn’t a bunch of grunt work that you have to do to get to the future on the other side.  Please remember that what you are doing right now is vital to the kind of person you are becoming.  Please read books.  Have adventures.  Serve.  Meet people.  Travel.  Work hard.  Try new things. Seek the Lord.  Not because it will look good on your resume.  Not because it will make you a better teacher. doctor. writer. scientist.   Not because you desperately need to know what to do with your life, but because you want to understand what your life is about.  Become a person who is faithful to God.  There will always be a way to be faithful to God. Always.

And finally, 20-year-old self, please get a hair cut.  Leave those edgy bangs to people who don’t go to the Hair Cuttery.  Please.  Also, clean your dorm room.  It’s a disaster area.

Love,
Lindsey