Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Can Never Do Enough...

It's a quiet afternoon in my house and kids are either napping, or enjoying some quiet time reading.  It's a chance for me to sit down and put my feet up; maybe read a few chapters or even spend some time in prayer.

As I sit down, I can see the dining room table and notice the milk is left out - again!  I jump up to put it away, and while I'm up I clear leftover lunch dishes from the table.  Once cleared, I notice smears of ketchup and various crumbs and food bits and decide to give the table a good wipe so I don't have to deal with dried on goop later.  Of course, after the table is wiped, the floor underneath is screaming for attention as it is littlered with macaroni, a few globs of oatmeal, snips of paper from someone's craft and random colorful plastic dishes.

When the floor is finally swept clean, I can only sigh with frustration as I realized just how much junk is left out on the counter, and of course the dishwasher was not unloaded even though it's clean so I'm stuck un-loading then filling up another load and washing pots and pans by hand.  I decide to stop at mopping the floor - I feel like I've already done so much already, and it can wait.

Finally I'm back on the couch and relish the moments of silence which only end up being a minute or two, as a child awakens from their nap and my precious "mess-makers" are revived from their slumber.

I have such a hard time leaving things in an undone state.  It is as though there is a check-list in my mind that tells me that I must not stop unless everything is in order, in it's place, and under control.  I even get in trouble from my husband when he asks me to just come and sit on the couch with him and hang out and talk, but I just feel like I can't... there's too much to do, too much to take care of!

This morning at church, we learned about the two "wrong ways" to approach God, and the only right way.  One of the wrong ways is when we throw our hands up into the air and say "I give up" and then proceed to live lawlessly, doing whatever we want without limitation, with a hardened heart and numbed conscience.  The other way is trying to approach God, but doing so with all of our checklists and rules and measurements - hoping that we can make Him happy with us, so that we can be accepted.

I've often wondered what it is that makes me work so hard sometimes.  Sure, I want things to be good for my family, and I want a clean house and all of that, but if it is getting in the way of true relationship with my kids and husband - then there must be something wrong.  Why can't I just sit down in the middle of the floor and read a story to my 5 year old with the clutter of dishes on the table and dirty laundry piled up by the basement door?  I hear myself often say "Just wait... I have to do this right now!"  but that is more of an excuse, and there will always be more that I "have" to do.

When I get down to the heart of the matter, I have to look at the way I relate to God, and it is indisputably comparable to the way I relate to my family.  I've noticed that I tend to avoid talking to Him and spending time with Him when I haven't fulfilled the duties that I perceive to be necessary for Him to care about me. 

I remember a poster that we had on our kitchen door when I was a kid - it had a kitten sitting in a bowl of spaghetti with noodles all over it's head, and a caption that said:

When I do right, no one remembers.  When I do wrong, no one ever forgets.

It's phrases like this that torment us and condition us to believe that no matter how hard we work, in the end, we still will not achieve the acceptance and contentment that we crave.  I grew up in a home where there was a hearty work ethic.  If you did not work, you did not eat.  If you wanted something, it wasn't handed to you - you had to go out and work for it yourself.  It taught me to be rather self-sufficient, and I'm thankful for that, but I also felt in some ways that I was only worth the weight I pulled, and that duty was of utmost importance.

It never ceases to amaze me how the relationships we hold with family members parallel our relationship with God on so many levels.  As I seek to understand what is going on in my head, and what motivates me and causes me to constantly cycle and struggle the way I do, I'm finding that my focus is drawn back to the most important relationship in my life.  The depths of my being long and crave for fullfillment that first comes from my relationship with God.  It is the primary source of contentment, and success in my other relationships will most certainly follow success in my relationship with Jesus.

I mentioned this morning's sermon - how we can approach our relationship with God by either our works or by turning our back and saying that it's hopeless to try and please Him.  Many people swing back and forth on a pendulum between these two ways of relating to God, but the right way, and the only hope for lasting peace is the path of Grace in the middle.  Regardless of actions, regardless of how far or for how long we run from our Savior, He's only one step away when you turn around and call on His name.  Even when I feel I don't measure up and haven't read my Bible enough, ministered to enough people, prayed enough, etc, etc, He doesn't want me to "get it right" and fix myself up before I approach Him.  Repentance is about accepting His work, and coming "just as you are".  By this honest assessment of yourself, and not on your own merit, you encounter a grace beyond measure, acceptance that is unending, and a love that is indescribable. 

I want to become the kind of person who puts people first, and relationships first in life.  I feel like a lot of this will change in me as I get to know Jesus and understand His grace.  He came so that we didn't have to work our butts off!  He came to bridge the gap and take away the separation between us and His loving presence!  I just keep thinking: "When will I get it though my thick skull that He really does love me?... He loves me!!!"  The more I understand this, the more grace I will have to love others and put them first.  I will be able to set aside the temporary things like dishes and laundry and dirty floors; for the sake of knowing Him and the sake of loving and enjoying relationship with others.

We love Him because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)  He does not love us because we're awesome at what we do.  He does not love us because we sacrifice so much to follow Him.  He loved us before all of that.  It is by experiencing His love that I can love Him and joyfully serve Him with a right attitude. 

Perhaps next time you visit my house, you'll see more cheerios on the floor and dust bunnies hiding under the couch.  If so, that will likely be a sign of growing and deepening relationships in my home...

1 comment:

RICK said...

Really good stuff Lisa,we will be
be checking the floor and under the
couch on thursday,hope we find it there.