Thursday, December 12, 2013

Burdens to Blessings

There are many jobs around here. Little ones pushing and clambering to get attention from mom and dad. There are little dirty hands, and mouths covered in crumbs, toys scattered from room to room and all the way up the stairs. There are friends who shoulder large loads and feel despondent and guilty in their every day lives. The lawn is overgrown, and the garden has yet to be cleared of dead tomato plants slumped over their cages. Friends call in a babysitting favor, family moves and needs some help installing appliances. The church we attend is mobile and requires setting up and tearing down before and after every service.

Quick as can be we can find ourselves lamenting that we never have any time and that there's always so much to do, which is true. Yes, it is true. But, I suppose, I'd rather a full life than an empty one. I'd rather a day surrounded by chaos and noise, than a house always empty and quiet. I'd rather a call from a friend who needs some comfort than to never hear the phone ring. I prefer a garden with the leavings of a bountiful harvest and memories of juicy tomatoes, than to never have had the experience of planting seedlings with my son and picking the fruits with exclamations of excitement ringing across the yard. I would rather help family, enjoying time spent together instead of seeing them have to pay for things that we're capable of accomplishing together. I feel more inclined to take part in the work it takes to start up a church, building a community and feeling at home and loved by the people I've met than to attend a church with anonymity and a desire to fill only my cup.

This life work is not for the faint of heart, and to sugar coat it and make it seem like it's all roses all the time would be inaccurate. This life work is worth it though. It's rewarding to experience close relationships, hugs from your children, and healing words on a regular basis.

I've been unexpectedly blessed by others many times. Last winter I was having one of those days in the trenches. Nothing was getting done, whining surrounded me, I was pregnant, I felt helpless and exhausted and I let it out in a Facebook post - not one of my finer moments. Literally minutes later a friend called me to ask if I was ok and said she wanted to bring us dinner. If I were to say that the dinner was the only thing that turned that day around for me, I'd be lying. The dinner was delicious. In fact, it was the best chili and cornbread I've ever had - and I've had some pretty good chili before. It wasn't just the dinner though, it was the friendship and the love that my friend extended me. It lifted me up and I felt cared for. 

Whenever we go to my parent's house for dinner I feel more relaxed when I leave than when I arrived. My kid's Grandparents, Uncles and Aunt take them on walks, get them drink and food, play with them, and read them stories. When the kids get crazy their attention is either quickly diverted or someone is willing to be crazy alongside them. I adore seeing my kids loved the way they are and having my family say, "I'll take care of this." with a smile because they want to and because they care about me and my babies. It lightens my load and is soothing to my soul. 

Recently I was unable to get my shower in at the beginning of the day and the day was stretching long, my husband was going to be home soon and I decided to get ready as fast as I could while the baby was napping. Mid-shower the baby woke up... squalling. My oldest quickly came to the rescue saying he could take care of her while I finished getting ready and when I came back I found him holding her. Not only had he calmed her down, but he had put her back to sleep. In helping his little sister he had also helped me. 

I am immeasurably grateful for the life that I have. Even the difficult things, the "burdens" are usually blessings in disguise. It's a shift to start imagining all the the hard and messy things in life as opportunities. Opportunities to show love, excuses to extend peace, moments that can breathe fresh air into someone else's life.

Giving to others and being a blessing is usually work and oftentimes doesn't fit neatly into our schedule. More often than not we're more worn out after doing for others than we were if we had just stayed home and sat on our couch. The reason for doing for others isn't so that they can turn around and return the favor. Below is a picture of my husband and dad helping my brother install a water heater in my brother's new house. After it was all said and done my husband posted, "fellowship > work." That's the real stuff. Being a light in someone else's life usually does bless us, just not in the way that we initially expect.

"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

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