Deliberate: when valentines and lent meet

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Today is Saint Valentines Day {as if you did not know}.

Today also starts the Lent season {which probably most of you know}.

 Romantic Love and Extended Denial vying for space on today's calender square.

They say you are supposed to express love to those who matter most to you today.

They say you are supposed to give up, fast, deny something for 40 days starting today in honor of the denial the Son of God took for humankind.

Really the two seem to orbit in different atmospheres.

American Greeting cards commercialism & ancient religious practices.

Most people participate in the first to simply fulfill a social consumer obligation.

Most people participate in the second to simply loose a some mid-winter chub.

I know I have.

But really love and denial fit like a hand in a glove.

The above pictures are expressions of practicing simple love and denial.

The heart sticking out of stick in the log: a little love note.

You see we have a wood burning stove, and every month or so order a big truck load of split wood that gets dumped in our driveway.  That pile needs to be thrown into our open basement window that leads directly to our "wood room" in our dingy cellar.  That particular chore always falls of Mr.MS as you might imagine.  But this particular wood delivery day he was going to be late from work, a big snow storm was about to let loose, and he left that morning feeling crummy.  It had been a hard busy day for me.  I had a scant half hour before the three big girls came bounding in from school with all the activity, conversation, demands, and noise that only a trio of 1st, 4th, and 5th grader girls are capable of.

What I wanted to do was lay on the couch and start my new novel as I started on a dove bar and some home-brewed Starbucks.

Oh yeah we had been fighting. A lot that week.

I hesitated for a moment, staring longingly at the couch and eyeing the microwave clock.  I then pulled on work boots, gloves,a fleece, and started to throw a mountain of wood into the basement.

The snow had just started to float down in fat lazy flakes.

I hesitate sharing this because really it seems all too-

"look at me I'm awesome"

And I hate people like that.  Kinda like talking sarcastic and mean about them.

But here is the rest of the story:

A year or two ago I would of never done that.

Know why?

Because I had sunk deep into that human habit of making "my hard life" all about me.  Sure I sacrificed for the children, {and didn't I remind myself and inform my husband about that often enough}.

I constantly had a running tally in my mind of: Who did what.  Which was harder.  Who preformed the best.

I kept an eagle-sharp eye on what He was supposed to do, and was incensed when He asked for help with "his jobs".  All the while would mumble a quick "thanks" when he pitched in with helping with "my jobs".

It was not like that all the time, let me tell you.  I would go through seasons of moods and fluctuate between generosity and stinginess. Overall we had, and do have a good, happy marriage.

Slowly, so slowly and gently God started to peel away all my supposed "good works" and revealed the ugly blights beneath.

Its the paradox most adults will at some point succumb to:

"I just have to make myself happy first, and then I will be healthier".

Yet the opposite happens as relationships get un-healthy, cold, and unkind.

But Jesus Christ came and brought in an upside kingdom:

The first shall be last.

The servant is the most honored.

We have heard the Sunday School lesson over and over again, but it looses its ring of truth in the harshness of growing up in an unfair world. It takes on fable-like qualities.

So after I had my 4th, and life was hard, and I thought pretty unfair, I put myself first.  But, not on the outside. No, no, perfect stay at home mom,  server at church, volunteer at school, the funny friend, looked pretty much unchanged.

But I knew I was.  And it was not good.  Again, God with His patience, His Son's forgiveness, His Spirit's whispers of leading, brought me to the place where I realized it is not about me.  I started the hard, hard task of stopping my complaining, negative tongue. Starting saying thank you with fresh eyes to all my blessing.  Lots of relapses, as recent as last week.  

 But in my pursuit of- its not about me

I have more joy in simply serving, being present, being deliberate, being kind, and soft spoken toward my husband, my children, to others in my life, than those grasping moments of "Me time" ever, ever afforded.

And here's the kicker:

I have lots of wonderful "Me Time" still. Because making time for yourself in not wrong.  It is healthy, it does restore.  It is needed. {just check out my last post…I have a whole room for myself} When you serve first, the balance will emerge.  But the balance is liquid, not concrete. 

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You set your focus on the task of serving, with a heart of gratitude, not begrudging, or that annoying martyr whine, and you yourself will, yes fade to the back round as you deny what you want to do, you want to accomplish, you want to grasp. Put to death all those "I deserve" conversations in your head. 

Like those little pink boots: blurry, out of focus, and seemingly far removed- looming behind the harsh splintery pile of course labor.

But in time it will produce…


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 that outstretched hand of wonder and joy, because that is what you were made to do.  That is love.  And it always satisfies.

Happy Valentines Day!

 



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One thought on “Deliberate: when valentines and lent meet

  1. How did I miss this post? Post well done. Truth hurts and we (all) need that,it shows we can grow.Thank goodness He uses the lowly and despised to confound the wise.I just want to read this over and over.

    Like

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