Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lessons in Silence

I love to use this blog as a vehicle for sharing what Christ is doing in my life and what He is teaching me and how He is helping me to grow. I believe everyday events such as my children's developmental milestones and our daily activities can be an expression of God's glory and there is just as much purpose in sharing those kinds of things on the blog as there is in talking about the specific "Christian-related" things. (I use those quotes to denote my disbelief that there are realms of life that are unrelated to Christ. I don't believe that at all. He is of all and in all and through all, and the redemption offered to us via the cross is available and adequate to restore all of creation, not just souls.) While I believe that, I do enjoy talking about things specifically related to personal spirituality. I haven't done that in a while. And it's bothered me. I haven't felt like there's been much to share. Oh, I know God is at work. It's just that He's working in an entirely different way than He ever has before in my life. Or at least that I can remember. It's different. And I haven't been able to articulate one single thought to summarize what has been going on in my life spiritually the last couple of months. And I don't like that one bit. I'm not used to it, actually. Anyone who possesses any spiritual gifts in the realm of teaching or discernment or anyone who just experiences such things regularly or from time-to-time by the Spirit's help will know exactly what I am talking about. I'm not an expert on spiritual gifts, but for several years, I have really enjoyed studying them...the theory of them and then the beauty of how they actually work together in real church life. And here's one thing I've noticed: If you're a "teacher-type", then there's this little part of you (actually the Spirit inside of you) that can respond a little sooner to various circumstances or experiences with an understanding of truth. (Obviously, that happens when walking in the Spirit, not all the time.) But a teacher is likely to immediately look for application of truth. We want to know "the lesson" in something, and as soon as we know it, we want to share it with others. I happen to think God has specifically designed that particular spiritual gift to work in that way. We teacher-types get passionate about learning truth...even if we're going through something huge, one little truth to cling to and lay claim to is all we really need. We see how God is changing us and what He is doing in and around us, and that can really satisfy us. And then we find even greater satisfaction when we get to see that work passed on to someone else.

So, what happens when we don't exactly "see" it? When the reality of what He is doing can't be wrapped up in a cute little package of insightful, summarizing words and succinct paragraphs?? I so like it when the lesson comes in a cute little package and sometimes with an even cuter little bow on top. And I'm learning that it doesn't always happen that way. God has been so sweet and near to me the last few months, but I don't really have one clue where He's going with it all. Not one single insight into the lessons of truth He has for circumstances I've found myself in. My daily life is looking different than it did a few months ago...schedules and demands have changed, and I feel I am still in this adjustment period of trying to get in a new groove while not totally understanding what that new groove should even look like. It's been an interesting time. What a lot of mothers experience when they have their first baby, I am just now going through; I am so busy with everyday basic-parenting (not even spiritual training and those kinds of things, just meeting plain 'ol survival needs) and household responsibilities that I have felt the enemy trying to push me into questioning my effectiveness right now. In the past, my ministry has extended beyond my immediate family, and right now, God is having me focus a whole lot more on these three other people living in my home. While I don't believe God has us focus entirely on our husbands and children to the exclusion of loving others and playing our role in building up the Body of Christ, I definitely know that He sometimes leads us to focus much more of our time and energies on the needs of our families than at other times. He reserves the right to lead us to those seasons as He wishes. And I'm in one of those seasons now. And I don't resent it one bit. I love the opportunity to give of myself to my sweet babies and to focus on deepening and strengthening my relationship with my husband. I recognize that I am blessed to be given this time. But I can't say that I never let Satan have any success with such deceptions. There are some days that I let him discourage me about what I am not accomplishing outside of my home. Or inside of it. And what has made it easier to think like that has been this seeming silence from the Lord on the whys of some of the things He's taking me through right now.

While my journey with Him these last couple of months has taken me through battles with insecurity and misidentity, pain of rejection and disappointment, I don't have this nice little understanding of what He's doing exactly or what all He wants to show me. The journey with Him has been rich, but I can't tell you how He might use it. Does anyone else really like knowing how God is going to "use" some experience of yours (especially the difficult ones) in perhaps someone else's life?? We can be so comforted by that. And that's not an entirely bad thing, as 2 Cor 1 suggests. It's just that sometimes I think God just wants me to learn quiet trust. Instead of wanting me to breeze through circumstances, He's asking me this summer to just sit in them a while. Sit a little longer. Sit as long as it takes for God to complete His work. And I admit, that's hard for me. I tend to look at my circumstances and experiences with a perspective that says, "Ok, God. Got that lesson. Checked it off the list. Let's move on to the next thing please." And right now, we're not moving on. I can get pretty restless in that place. I think He has lots to teach me during this season of life when activities have changed and my ministry is in the realm of what seems more mundane. And I just have to keep sitting in it until HE is ready to make things clearer. And so I sit, continuing to work through these issues of identity and purpose and contentment as I walk through (or run, trying to catch up) each day of loving on my family. Just trusting that things will be good on the other side even if I don't know what they'll be and knowing that in the midst of unclear vision presently, things are still good.

This all just makes me wonder about what my motives can so easily become. Is it that my excitement about spiritual growth and the Christian life flows mostly from what I see God doing or rather from who I trust Him to be when I cannot see what He is doing? I think joy will only be the reality when my focus is on experiencing His presence more than the lessons. When I realize that a real live journey with a real live God looks more like Him leading me through a dance (in which I don't always know the next step until we take it) than a cookie-cutter expectation of what He's going to show me and when.

What I appreciate so much about the Lord right now is that even though many of His revelations about things occur on His timetable and not always on mine, He still is a God who delights in revealing Himself. When He withholds "lessons" for a time, He does not withhold Himself. Love Him for that.


Courtney said...

you are neat. i love the way you express yourself. i am sorry that things (although good) are a bit tough. I hope to encourage you in that you ARE doing a great job being a mommy and wife and that is exactly where God has you...that was a tough lesson for me to learn in the midst of it. I know from my journey that it was so rewarding but only in hindsight because I didn't quite have the same attitude you are having through it. Ihope you see the littl rewards along the way, as well as the big ones in hindsight. You are an incredible woman of faith, with much strength Hannah. I so appreciate that in you! You will make it through this, even though there will be moments you think otherwise. God is awesome...very awesome.

Marci said...

I LOVED how well you expressed what you are going through right now Hannah. It truly brought me back to the time when Kayla and Camryn were small and I was "searching" for what exactly it was I was to be doing.

I still struggle with these same issues. I feel pulled by "things" outside of our family, but I realize I can only do so much. Where are my obligations?? Who or what comes first?? How do I manage all of these things??

I think this comes from your heart wanting to do as much as possible for His Kingdom and you are trying to figure out HOW you can fit it all in.

It is a tough balance, but when I have been confronted with whether my family comes first, I reflect on these verses: (
these verses are directed toward elders, BUT I feel they can apply to anyone who is in ministry outside of the home)

1 Timothy 3:4-5

4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),

Titus 1: 5-6

Qualifications of Elders
5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,
6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

You are a strong spiritual woman and it is obvious and I know you will figure out the balance. Thanks for the GREAT post!

Chandra said...

Thank you so much for the encouragement note you left on my blog. I appreciate it. It is a difficult time when you are in any kind of transition as you have clearly explained on your blog. I think I went through what you are going through with my first 2 months with Lilly. I felt I was plucked out of the world and dropped in a new one called the Roush house and it was different from being the person who could be available for others. I had to focus on learning how to do this thing called Motherhood. What was the hardest is I went into it with thinking I was going to know exactly how to handle motherhood. God showed me very quickly, I couldn't do it on my own. I should have know that!

Thanks for your encouragement and I will be praying for you.


Adriane said...

I love your blog. I just love how you really talk about Christ in your life. I struggle with some of those same issues and I only have 1 right now! I feel that when I am not spending all my time with Avery I am neglecting her (I know it's not true) and then I put her down and I am so exhausted and need to clean the house etc. that my relationship with Christ alot of the times gets put on hold. I hate that and I am trying to change. I want a close intimate relationship with the Lord I am not always ready to make the changes to do it. I really appreciate you writing about your struggles.
I love the pics of the kids