Friday, August 3, 2012

An Uncommon Solution to Fixing Your Life

I see my reflection in the computer and pity the woman staring back at me with her unwashed hair and dirty t-shirt. 

I roll my eyes at the wadded-up antique quilt in the corner, the one that the dog peed on and that the dog's owner is not sure how to launder and I wonder how many more days it may sit there and what sort of long-term damage dog pee does to a quilt. 

I hear my 4-year-old asking why the chair is broken and that the busted piece hurts his tush and when are we going to get new chairs because ours are old and don't work very good. 

Beads are strewn across the bar.

The carpet is in desperate need of deep cleaning.

The walls are anointed with Sharpie ink.

The ridiculous stains on the furniture mock me every single day and the sofa cushions are losing their stuffing, poof by poof. Literally.

The boys' room is crammed with {broken} kitchen chairs and elaborately tented with the once-folded contents of my linen closet.

Laundry piled high.

Countertops that smell weird.

Ants coming in through the back door and eating the dog food.

The bathroom floor is sunken in beside the tub, a not-uncommon calamity when a family has weathered the years-long season of splashy kids and nightly baths. That's what the independent contractor told us anyway. 

And this is just the stuff on the surface, the see-and-touch mayhem and unraveling that accompanies real life.

What lies beneath is even messier, more elusive. Kids struggle. Marriage takes work. Bodies need doctors. Hearts need counseling. The whole world needs healing and my tiny world needs help too.

I call it the unfixable life

Sometimes {and by "sometimes" I mean this morning} I stumble upon a blog or some other home-and-life vignette that's just bursting with beauty and then I blame the internet for taunting my discontent. 

The laundry, the mess, the squishy bathroom floor, the personal struggles--I suddenly see them under a magnifying glass and then compare all of my ick to Susie-So-And-So's life of charm and perfection.

Like a toddler, I pound my fists and say to no one, Why is their life so beautiful and abundant? Why don't their countertops smell weird?

And while I rail I'm reminded that someone probably looks at my life from the outside and says the same thing. Our lives will always seem beautiful and abundant to someone else, even if it feels messy, lacking, and unfixable to us. It's all relative, isn't it?

This morning I journaled. I half-heartedly prayed. I read through the passages of my One Year Bible. I know these are life-giving disciplines but instead of feeling full I felt empty, disconnected from the Source that gives the life. 

I almost slammed the pages shut but decided to keep going, to read the next day's passage, buoyed by the thinnest shred of hope that perhaps a wee bit of light would illuminate the dim and dreary condition of my soul. Or that an Angel of Mercy would show up and clean my house. And hand me $5,000.

Instead of cash and cleanliness, I found a passage in Lamentations and promptly scrawled it on an index card in bright blue ink. 

It was not a call to get busy and start in on that soiled quilt or find some extra money in order to clean the carpets or dig deep with an extra measure of resolve and tackle the necessary soul work. 

It was not a command to pick up those library books in order to find the right diet for a certain child's learning disability or concrete answers to adrenal fatigue.

It was not a suggestion to get over my weak self and just do the right thing with a smile on my face and a "servant's heart," nor was it a condescending reminder to return my friends' phone calls and deal with my inbox. 

It was simply an invitation, a "dare to hope." Affirmation to wait. A call to dependence on a faithful Lord whose mercies are new every morning and whose inheritance is richer than $5,000 and a clean house with lemon-fresh countertops.

Lamentations 3:21-26 {NLT}
Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly
    for salvation from the Lord. {emphasis mine}

I cannot fix my life. I cannot heal my hurts or eradicate my exhaustion or makeover my personality. I do not have the answers to the needs of my family or the sewing skills to slipcover my dirty furniture. 

Instead, I quietly wait for the One who has all the answers and knows all my needs {not to be confused with my wants}, the One who shows up every morning with a fresh batch of mercies and a promise to save both my everyday and my eternity.

If your life feels a bit like mine, if you're tired and uninspired and white-knuckled from gripping it all too tightly...

Maybe it's time to let go, receive grace, and join me in the waiting room. 


  1. Wow! This blew me away. Really.

    Thank you for telling it like it is. Real, raw and encouraging at the same time.

    Great post!

  2. Wow! This blew me away. Really.

    Thank you for telling it like it is. Real, raw and encouraging at the same time.

    Great post!

  3. you can't even know how much i needed to read this right here. all of it. needed to rub it in good.

    oh, friend. i'm right here with you. learning, learning, learning. that His grace means that He's already been crushed for me. why do i do it over and over again? even if my yard's a mess (yep. been bashing myself over that one) or my laundry's got to be redone because i forgot to move it or there's some kind of crusty junk on my counter. not one of those things done or done well will bring me peace. only Him. only Him.

    so, so thankful for you.

  4. Thank you, Marian! I needed to read that today on so many levels!

  5. We are all in your pile . . . uh, corner. Painfully, beautifully written . . . like a quiet scream from the human heart that knows the Divine.


  6. You are exactly what I needed this morning. I am that someone looking in on your life (just as I guess someone looks into mine, though I find that as hard to fathom as you do) wondering why my house looks they way it does when I picture yours full of clean counters and toys neatly in baskets, wondering why my children cannot go 2 seconds without yelling/crying/hitting, wondering why my bank account is so low after a few "surprise" payments that I'm wondering exactly how I'm going to buy my 10 year old a pair of tennis shoes before school starts (What message will in convey to her if we borrow money from her piggy bank to buy her shoes? I hope it's a good one because that's what we're going to have to do..)

    So, yeah, I'm in your "pile" (as your wonderful mom said). And the verses you shared pulled me, even just a little, out of it.

  7. The waiting place is so hard. Harder than hard. But I know God works out so much I can not see or feel or touch. But it's hard. It's the hardest place to be with the Lord. I love you

  8. The waiting place is so hard. Harder than hard. But I know God works out so much I can not see or feel or touch. But it's hard. It's the hardest place to be with the Lord. I love you

  9. Thank you for this post--your words are like God's arrows to the heart! God's grace is abundant, for those of us in the waiting place.

  10. Like several of the other comments stated, I, too, needed to read this. We somehow sneak a glance at the lives of other women who are in the same stage of life as we are and think their lives are so much more "together", perfect, ideal, etc than ours. When, in reality, we all have dirty countertops, piles of laundry, broken chairs, and hurting hearts at some level. The difference? There are only a few out their brave enough to let us see the real...and THAT, Scooper, is exactly what we need. Thank you, thank you, thank you....

  11. Come visit soon. My counters smell weird, and well I'm weird. And I miss you.

  12. What a perfectly timed blessing to have Angel at Finding the Inspiring share this link with readers today. I relate to this so much more than I can say.

    Beautifully inspired, from His mouth to your keyboard.


Share your thoughts?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin