I took a co-worker to brunch, craving way more than a meal. Kathy’s unnatural sense of peace literally exudes from her being. All the time. And I was hungry for it.
Maybe it’s because she’s survived a brain tumor. Maybe it’s because her children are in their twenties. Maybe it’s because she’s been married over 30 years. But she has something I’m still reaching for, and I needed to know her secret.
It doesn’t matter what she’s doing. Whether she’s working with students, or talking with a parent, or literally just walking down the hall, Kathy just has this countenance of calmness. I, on the other hand, am racing, racing on the inside, although I sometimes hide it well.
I’m one of those awful persons who can choose tasks over people. I have a hard time exiting the race and socializing at a moment’s notice. And I live in a culture that marches to the beat of a different drum. Outgoing personalities are celebrated. Fun conversationalists are adored. But me? I’m still finding my rhythm. Thank you for your patience.
And Kathy, bless her, is just sort of in a category all to herself. She is sincere and genuine and ready to talk no matter what she’s doing.
One of my idols is control. I didn’t know it until my first child entered the world. Even marriage didn’t reveal it to me at first. No, it was a teeny, tiny baby who showed me my security was in To Do lists and my addictions were in maintaining my environment and schedule. He sort of stripped that all away from me. Add another baby into the mix, and well, you get the picture.
Suddenly the Cross became very, very big in my life. I’m sure my Maker delighted in this.
But while my sin and misguided affections are daily erased in the shadow of the Cross, I still feel the tension within. I still have to consciously walk away from the race. I still have to choose what matters over what’s urgent. It doesn’t come naturally for me.
So you can see why I was hungry for Kathy’s way of doing life.
My most recent battle over control is a bit complicated, for it has to do with my children and it has to do with fear. You see, I want to author my children’s stories. I want to control the pen. I want to write the next chapter in their lives and edit out poor choices and erase all that will not produce a beautifully wrapped up ending.
It’s one thing to surrender your life to the Rescuer. It’s another thing to surrender your children’s stories to Him. And when fear enters your thoughts, well, it can get sort of ugly. What if something happens to them? What if they face injustice? What if they suffer the consequences of their own poor choices that last years? What if their sin hurts them? What if their their wounds don’t heal after a while? What if, what if, what if…
I envisioned scenario after scenario, consumed by it all. I found myself daydreaming about what could happen. And in the quiet of the night, there was no rest. I couldn’t turn off my mind. Over-thinking, planning, reflecting on my parenting regrets — it was such a burden. What if, what if, what if…
“Do you trust Him?” Kathy asked. “Do you trust Him with your children?”
I shook my head no, but I didn’t look away. There’s no shame when you’re talking to Kathy.
“Being still is being productive, Christan”. Ah, she knows me well. She knows how to speak my language. “Can you be still and trust Him?”
She unfolded story after story when God’s plan was oh, so confusing. She referenced chapters in her family’s life she would have written differently. Eyes filling with tears, she revealed the message God repeated to her through the years. “Do you trust Me, Kathy? Do you trust Me to reconcile all this to completion? It’s hard, but it’s not for you to control. Stop trying to change the story I’m writing for your sons, writing for your husband.”
Being still is being productive.
The wind blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God. John 3:8
He’s working. The Wind of God, He’s working. I feel Him and I hear Him, but I don’t understand. I feel Him and I hear Him, but I can’t harness His pen. What if, what if, what if…
Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed,
however hurt, to forget her nursing child?
Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?
Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you.
Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands.
Your city walls are always on My mind, always My concern. Isaiah 49:15-16
Watch, Christan. I have carved your children on the palms of My hands. I have engraved them, intentionally planning their stories. Rest in the truth that their stories have already been written. You’re just reading them. Be the reader, not the author.
I believe, I really do, someday raw hearts will come searching and stumble upon my kids’ stories. They’ll find comfort knowing others have walked similar paths. They’ll breathe in grace as my family’s pages bandage their wounds with hope fulfilled… as that redemptive thread weaves itself into chapter after chapter of their own stories.
Surrendering, leaning, believing, watching — being still is being productive.
Be the reader. The job of Author is already taken.