*****After picture day I find the proofs in my box. Teaching year two and I look none the worse for the wear. But yeah, you can see it in my smile, the tension all through my jaw line reflecting my clenched fists. No wonder I'm feeling that old ache from the neck up then down into the shoulders. I shake my head.
I had been honest with him the night before. "I am a hot mess. No one wants to be around me right now." He had responded with a wink, "I'd be willing to risk it." So he came over because I asked him to, braved the puffy eyes and just-out-of-the-shower hair. And on the tail end of one of my standard break-downs, we sat and talked.
It's just that I don't ever tell people how hard it really is sometimes. I live with this never-let-em-see-ya-sweat mentality. I don't ever talk about how it's really not like the ideal I had pictured. I don't ever talk about how I am striving to spend this one life well and really Live and be all here and pour it all out and scatter my gifts and sow seeds and love these kids and live a ministry and be the light of Jesus everywhere I go and make a radical difference and I always feel like I'm failing. How somewhere I convinced myself it was supposed to be easy and it's not and I put so. much. pressure. on myself. How it never feels like enough. How life feels out of control and out of my reach and joy is fading fast with my strength. And I am just. so. tired!
And the thing is...
Ideals can become idols. And idolatry can grip like a vise 'til you can't breathe.
Because, let's be honest. Somewhere between lesson plans and crazy kids and roommates leaving dishes in the sink and trying to squeeze in a little time for coffee I forgot... again. I stopped chasing after the Presence of God that leads to a radically abundant Life and started lunging for control. I became less concerned with making a difference than with shaping my own image. But today... today I am remembering. I am remembering that I make this Life thing harder than it is. That I need daily bread, well, daily and I can find it that often if I'll just step out of the tent. That it is God's job to shape me into His image and my job to yield and surrender to the Holy Spirit. That Christ lives in me and shines through me. And no, it's not easy. No, it's not comfortable. But I'm remembering that living radical calls us out of our comfort zones and "the one who calls you is faithful and He will do it." It is rehearsing the refrain. Being faithful today. Giving up and giving it over. Gathering the manna. Marveling in the mystery. Believing I am Beloved before the first step. Counting the gifts. It's the Sanity Manifesto all over again. And the words I have been struggling to write on my heart begin to rise up within: "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
And so it's back to this opening the hands each morning, breathing deep, and surrendering all. Because that sliver of a moon and single star, that choir concert last night that made the breath catch in my throat, that pillow and blanket that keep me warm but make it a little hard to get up in the morning... These are the little gifts that remind me He is always good and I am always loved and Life is not as hard as I make it. Just stay. Open hands to receive Holy Spirit. Open hands to pour out the overflow of grace. And it is that. Grace.