24: Heaven and Hell in the House
In solace and in community: heaven and hell dwell under one roof.
I battle this every day – in the middle of a room full of knock-your-socks-off-incredible-women and
in the quiet stillness of in the chaotic loneliness of home. …and somehow, I think I’m not the only one, whose seen someone else doing something fun and thought “Must be nice!” (A great post by a friend on that here.)
I’ve just come home from a precious bit of community called “allume.”
I know how the pictures, the fun, the community look when peering out from a cage.
I also know how sometimes we stay in our cage because it seems a lot more like a cave – a shelter from the bits of hell outside, the hell of IF’s that loom large with the “different.”
Bottom line: I can’t stop thinking about my peeps.
My peeps are the ones at home, the ones that suffer vitamin d deficiency because they RARELY get to leave their homes, the ones that haven’t been to Bible study in years (but WANT to go), the ones that get hives as their car approaches a church parking lot, anticipating those damn rotten-tomato stares. My peeps are the moms that have been asked NOT to bring their kids to Sunday School any more. They may dress cute when they get out (and feel like it’s a lie). They may have makeup on. They may be in an old t-shirt and look like they are strung out on drugs (when it’s really just YEARS of sleep deprivation). …or most likely they are a mix of all-of-the-above.
These are my peeps.
And I know. I know what it’s like to snuggle up with your computer and see the high-school friend celebrating an anniversary in New York City, and your best friend at a retreat, even just friends at lunch, or worse yet, other people like you – special needs parents TOGETHER…because you feel SO DANG ALONE. SO DOWN. SO LOCKED IN. …and it feels like that’s NEVER going to change.
I’ve been there.
I was there 2 summers ago, the first time I’d ever heard of “allume.” I looked at my screen with ENVY. I was JEALOUS. (I wasn’t ready to own those things, but they owned me.) They owned me not because I’d welcomed them, but because my defenses were down.
They’d rushed right in, uninvited…I think.
So ladies, and gentlemen living in the cage (whatever cage it is) – you – the ones that see life passing you by, this is for you.
I can’t tell you how much I wish this was “10 Sure Ways to Get out of Your Hellacious Cage”
…but I’m not a 10-Sure-anything kinda girl.
I could tell you all to go to church, that you abandon church, demand that “they” cater Sunday school around your special needs child, demand that “they” bring community right INSIDE of your cage, or that you go wheel your child into a homeless shelter
…BUT I’d be wrong.
I’d be wrong, because SOMETIMES we are called to wash feet,
and SOMETIMES we are called to LET others wash OUR feet.
Only you and Jesus can figure that one out together.
I so badly wish I could have packed you all in my suitcase. I wish I could have been in someone else’s suitcase on that lonely summer, but the timing would have been all wrong. It would have been all wrong, because, for me, that was the time when God said, “It is good for a man to sit in silence.” and “It is good for a man to bear the yoke when he is young.” (Lamentations 3...It’s deep ya’ll!) …and when I learned to rest in that place, and to GIVE thanks – I found joy.
It’s a step I didn’t need to skip.
So this is my message – Listen to the still small voice.
Ask. Seek. Knock.
Where does He want you?
Right where you are?
Who are your neighbors? How can you love them AS YOURSELF?
Are you in the place where you have nothing left? He might just want you to SERVE? It’s the last mite that makes all the difference, because
Abundance can come in GIVING all.
Is HE calling you to live with abandon?
or have you been living abandon too long? Is He calling you to surrender, to let that friend wash your feet, to do that “girl’s night?”
Are you in the corner because He wants you to be a voice for the broken? Did your kid get kicked out of Sunday school so you can show Jesus to those hurting you? So that you can champion the cause of the kid that comes after you? Or is this a time for silence?
Or did it happen because he’s telling you to move on? Is he pushing you into a new community? (Sometimes he teaches more in your absence than with your words.)
Is he telling you to push past the pain, to put yourself back into community? Is he telling you to endure the hell so that you can have more heaven in your life?
Let me tell you: Obedience HURTS….and it fills.
EVERY person in this world is BROKEN…and when you put broken people together in a place to worship Jesus…
Heaven and hell dwell under the same roof.
Precious community, selfless love, peace, patience – they are in that place. Envy, PRIDE, jealousy, hate, (and did I say pride?) those are in the SAME place.
All of us battle with our stiflingly tight JUDGY PANTS (A great post by a new friend from allume…and yes I’m the smart%#$ that called her a “Judgy Pants” I’m just glad she’s cool enough to call me friend after I did!)
My 5-year-old has a pair of skinny jeans that render her immobile. She can’t even bend to put her shoes on in them. Judgy pants are these are those times 10. They paralyze. They isolate. They would have us see only the perfect – not the broken in each of us….and they keep us at arm’s length from all “They don’t know.” “They’re life is too easy, too perfect.” “They have NO idea what my life is like.”
We want to wallow.
We want to see everything “perfect” in others and everything “broken” in ourselves…or vice versa. We rarely admit that we have much in common.
The others: they may or may not know they are broken, but they need prayer – and prayer is the stuff that gives our life elasticity, that opens our eyes to the broken, that gives us the strength to serve when we are a mess on the floor.
When you catch yourself in those judgy pants PRAY for the one you’re judging.
- You think the sermons not the best you’ve heard – PRAY for the man to have an awesome sermon – to bring Jesus in the room.
- The girl next to you talking bad about the preacher – pray that she would have joy in her life, that He would break her in the best of ways and help her know that she is enough.
- The kid that can’t stop staring at your kid – pray that they would stop being imprisoned by normalcy, that they would learn to see souls and not oddities….and for your own bleeding heart…and your kids – that you could see beyond your own pain to the pain within the starer…and maybe ask the kid to please look forward, and call his mom later to explain.
- The person that illegally parked in the handicapped space? – pray for them, until your own anger begins to melt – pray for the handicaps in their soul…and maybe call the ADA too. 🙂
Praying doesn’t mean you stop fighting for justice, for the oppressed, but it does mean that you know who’s really in charge, and where true change begins.
There are some things that we only learn after we say them out loud. Speak truth to your heart and talk to your God – from your cage. It will free you – He will free you.
So, my peeps: Pray, pray for the irritatingly perfect people in your life. Pray blessings on the people that see your child as a burden and not a living breathing soul. Pray for the people that would rather stare at your child than experience the joy of knowing them. And pray for joy. Pray for laughter. Pray for community. Pray that he would show you when to wash feet and when to let that neighbor that always offers to take your kids wash YOUR feet.
…and dig, dig into The Word that breathes life into your existence.
If your new to the Bible, don’t expect it to be easy. It will seem weird and ancient, but if you obey, if you persist, the dry bones may just come to life, and they may just fill your life with a joy greater than you’d dare dream.
So friends, dare to enter that place of heaven and hell that He’s calling you to.
Be brave enough to –
embrace the quiet or to step into community,
to serve or be served.
Cling to the heaven in the place, and pray away the hell.
I dare you.
You just might find in yourself – beauty rearranged.
31For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.