October 14, 2010


I guess a cup is only useful/ For the hollow of its shape
The brokenness in me/ Is the need that holds your grace  
         --"Standing in His Place", c. 2000, Five Foot Six and a Half Music

This lyric from a Justin McRoberts song has often crossed my mind; the images it calls up are ones to ponder. Too often I'm impatient that God isn't using me or having me do what I want to do, only to find out that all of me must be emptied first.

For various reasons, this has been a season of emptying. God scrapes away parts of me I consider essential, I reach a raw state of surrender, then find that all he removed was actually dead weight and not part of his creation. I've added bits here and there over the years... time-tested ideas about myself and about life that are actually lies when I examine them directly.

I begin to see that complete emptying has to happen before a vessel can be filled to serve its true purpose. There is no room for any volume of good if it happens to get mixed with the mud of my pride here, controlling over there, etc.

Emptying the pot is only the first step. Once emptied, the pot must be examined for cracks that I've repaired with wax -- injuries and hurts I tried to mend myself so that my life would appear to be whole. When heat comes, those clumsy repairs will quickly dissolve and reveal the underlying brokenness. Only the potter can mend a shattered vessel, because only he builds with truth. His mending is visible; shattering turns into scars -- but the pot is at least useful again. Once the pot is sincere (from the Latin sin cera, or "without wax"), it can be filled to the brim and put through incredible heat without being damaged or even marred.

I dislike the emptying. I loathe the heat that reveals my waxy mends. It isn't fun to find that patches you put in years ago are actually worthless. I'm beginning to see, though, that it isn't a matter of me liking the painful process, but wanting -- truly wanting -- to be filled at some point and serve my purpose.

October 12, 2010

One Body, Many Moms

I have become that which I swore I would not (younger readers, take note: be very careful of saying you will never -- God takes pretty good notes!). I drive a minivan, I don't get a shower in as often as I would like to, I don't have a wardrobe that majors in purchases from Talbot's, and the people I see most often outside family are the clerks at the grocery store and Wal-Mart. Seriously. I'm on a first-name basis with the clerks.

Another "not me!" item was that I didn't see myself attending MOPS. MOPS made me think of, well, mops. Women managing to take an hour off drudgery, so desperate to get out of the house that they would pay people to take their kids, yet still be wearing knit drawstring pants and no make-up. Now that I'm a mom, I understand paying people to take your kids for a little while, and as I type I'm wearing knit drawstring pants and no make-up. Budgeting money is important, but not as important to a mom as budgeting her time and energy. If I know a day's schedule is hectic, then I want a few other things (like make-up and photo-ready outfits) off my to-do list.

SO... at the MOPS meeting I attended today our speaker compared lives to apples: if there is rot at the core, it impacts the seeds that are planted later. In order to plant healthy seeds, I need to identify areas of decay or rot in my defaults and behaviors. This idea, though new in form, was not a new concept for me. The side note that falls into what Mac would call a "beam-knocker" (like when you whack your head resoundingly against an overhead beam) was this: if there's a girl friend I admire (and even resent a bit) for doing something well, I could ask for her help or suggestions instead of comparing myself to her and feeling depressed about my assumed failures.

I've thought of this where the church (as in, body of believers, not just one building) is concerned, and I'm comfortable knowing that hospitality is not something that comes naturally to me. I'd never thought of if where being a mom or wife was concerned. Case in point? I have a girlfriend whose house always seems to be freshly decorated and neat as a pin. There are many things I do well, but housecleaning is not my forte. Our house is presentable, but it's very obvious someone lives here -- lives here with a large, black dog, as a matter of fact. Rather than mentally smacking myself because I haven't vacuumed in over a week or only just got around to changing bed sheets (sheets taken from the basket of laundry that's been sitting in the living room for a week) -- I am better off recognizing that there are probably things my girl friend wishes she did better, even (dare I say it?) that she did as well as I do.

This morning had a relieving measure of grace added to my shoulders. Because of it, it's OK with me that the laundry is still sitting in the living room. --All right, it's almost OK with me, but I'm working on it!