As soon as dinner commenced (I was able to resist serving tea and did make real food) S. disappeared into the bathroom. He scrubbed down the bath, started warm water, lit candles, sent me in and sent the kids to have 'quiet time' in their rooms while he did dishes.
I had been in a funk but the quiet gave enough room for me to begin asking the Lord questions and listening for His response. I've been realizing that I've made some silly assumptions about my life. Unconsciously I have built up my ideas of what would be indicators of maturity and progress. For example, if I learn to be financially responsible and surrender my finances to the Lord, I will see His blessing in a certain way- a savings account, a newer vehicle, a smart budget. Surely a 401k is a sign of a responsible person... surely God wants me to be this kind of responsible.
I thought spiritual maturity would feel mature. If I am growing in my faith surely I will be stable. I will probably even look like I have my act together to other people. I'll see less sin and more fruit.
As I took inventory of some unspoken expectations I realized the type of blessings I've assumed would accompany God's favor and maturity have not been the blessings I am experiencing. In every way I am less stable than ever...hardly a mature 30 year old!
When I agree with John the Baptist that "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease" in John 3:30 and when I read the beatitudes in Matthew 5 that "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake" do I really think that becoming these things will be painless? Do I really think that becoming this way needs to involve what my culture says are marks of maturity and growth?
Never do I hunger and thirst for righteousness like I do when I am stripped; when I realize nothing else is satisfying. God has given me things to mourn, has given me opportunity to extend (and receive) mercy, and He has stripped much of my self-righteousness.
Huh... these are blessings?
This is my paradigm shift.
As my bath got cold I was reminded of a very obvious blessing. Last year at this time I would have gladly given my savings account, my comfort, and a paycheck to have a husband who would encourage me, fill a bath, and take initiative. God has not only done a huge work in S., He has used my little family to speak loudly His graces to me. It is the visible mark of God's hand in my life, of His grace and listening ear.
It has been challenging to blog, journal, or think reflectively in these NyQuil driven months because my mind has been cloudy. Much of what the Lord has been doing is exposing my silliness, my sin, my prideful expectations and replacing them with His truth. It has been the same truths knocking against my dense head. Often I think, "Wow, I should write this out." Then, "Oh, I have written about that. Wait...didn't I already learn this?" Apparently not because it's having to sink in over and over again.
I half-joked (okay, I was all the way serious) with my friends a couple weeks ago that when I knew God was going to begin a big transformation in me I was hoping it would be the kind that would include defined triceps, maybe a half marathon, a bigger house, an adoption, or some stability... so I was a little bit off on my estimation (I said while sucking on my third cough drop).
The exciting part of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 are what God gives once He's established the meekness, the mourning, the hunger and thirsting: "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they shall be comforted, they shall inherit the earth, they shall be filled, they shall obtain mercy, they shall see God, they shall be called sons of God." Wow. I suppose it's worth trading in my stability, my 401k, my expectations, to let God establish these promises that far surpass my limited ideas.
Again I am reminded that I have prayed for holiness, for obedience, for God's will to be established in my life. He is answering my prayers in abundance. With a few more hot baths I think that might sink in.