I dropped the ball recently. Not just a slight miscommunication, forgot to send the birthday card until a day too late, tossed a red shirt in with the whites kind of misstep. No, this was a feelings hurt, tears shed, angry words spoken kind of mistake that had me hanging my head in disbelief that I could be so brainless and inconsiderate.
Ever had that moment?
It feels like a ball of lead dropping into your stomach followed by an immediate choking sensation followed by a panic attack.
My first impulse is to go into damage control mode.
I picked up the phone, admitted my mistake and apologized profusely, but it didn't take long for me to understand that the problem doesn't really lie in my error.
I've been studying the idea of greatness for a writing piece I'm working on. The central Scripture of the piece is Matthew 22 where Jesus responds to the Pharisees and their question about which commandment is the greatest.
And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." -Matthew 22:37-39
Seems simple enough, doesn't it?
By loving people, we demonstrate our love for God. If we truly love God, we will love on his people. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Our family has been going through a time of transition. I have gone back to work at a day job which has brought about a whole new set of childcare challenges. My husband is on the brink of another trip to China. All three kids are about to be in school, at three different schools, on different days and times. I started doing more work from home.
In a way, it's felt like standing in the eye of a hurricane. I can see all these things swirling around me and I'm very much entrenched in the middle of it, just trying to keep focused and centered to avoid being swept away.
My problem isn't that I can't manage the storm. My problem seems to be that I don't have anything left of myself to give to people.
I forget to make phone calls to chat with family.
I fail to make time to text someone just to check on how she's doing.
I don't drive up for a visit as often as I should.
I completely space on inviting someone very important to my son's birthday lunch.
So this is my call for grace. This is my plea for forgiveness and for patience. This is my attempt to humble myself, to admit I'm a massive failure in this area, and to ask you to bear with me. You see, Jesus made it clear that we are called to serve others and that's what I've been trying to do...I need you to believe that. Where I've gone wrong is that in the process of trying to work hard to serve my family, my friends, my church, my job(s), and my community, I have struggled to maintain healthy boundaries that keep me from stretching myself too thin. Jesus had a much more hectic schedule than I do and he modeled how important it was to rest, to recharge, and to not allow himself to drain everything out to everyone for everything they felt they needed.
This morning I read the story in Mark 5 about the woman who pushed through the crowd surrounding Jesus just to touch his clothes, believing that it would heal her. Jesus is being pressed on all sides by throngs of people with illness and diseases, people with sick loved ones, people with needs too numerous to mention. They all wanted a piece of Jesus and they were literally putting the pressure on him to pony up. As he maneuvered his way through the sea of people, he stopped and turned to find the one person who had reached out and touched his garment and dropped everything he was doing to hear her story and call her Daughter. At that moment, she was his priority and he put everything else on hold to attend to her in her crisis.
But Jesus wasn't just out for a morning stroll when all this took place - he was on a mission, already heading on an urgent trip to Jairus's house where his daughter lay dying. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to have been Jairus, a father desperate for anything that might save his beloved child's life. What despair he must have felt when Jesus' attention was diverted to this woman, delaying him enough that his daughter dies in the meantime.
Can you picture it? I can see Jesus, who had the power to heal every single person in that crowd with a word, choosing the priorities from among the crushing collection of needs that surrounded him. Do I think it hurt him to make the conscious choice not to do a sweeping solution to everyone's issue? Yes, I do. And then...he reaches the home of Jairus, where he is about to do the most incredible miracle of his ministry to date...and he tells everyone except his closest disciples to wait outside.
My point is this: I am not Jesus.
Shocking stuff, I know. If there is anyone who has ever walked this earth who could have handled all the pressure of handling all the people and all their things, it's Jesus. He's God and last time I checked, he can do everything. I am about the furthest thing from Jesus possible and there are times, like now for example, when I feel all the things pushing in on me, clamoring for my attention and my efforts and I simply cannot do it all. I am so very imperfect and flawed.
There will be things that have to wait.
There will be needs that are so acute, so urgent, and so significant to me that I will divert my attention from other things, important things, to attend to them. Feelings will get hurt.
There will be people who don't get exactly what they are looking to get exactly when they are looking to get it.
There will be important matters that I forget to attend to simply because I am human and I mess up....a lot.
But there will also need to be time when I just need to ask people to wait outside while I focus on doing something that is really requiring my undivided attention.
That's the place that I'm in right now.
I realize that all this probably made way more sense in my head than it does in these ramblings, but I just had to run outside in my bare feet to capture a toddler who escaped from his bedroom during what is supposed to be naptime and in the process I stepped wrong and ripped a chunk out of my big toe causing me to have to carry a screaming, flailing little boy back to his bed while limping and leaving a trail of bloody footprints in my wake. As I write these words, he is still screaming from his bed, railing at me for disappointing him, for ruining his fun, for not giving him exactly what he wants exactly when he wants it.
And that's ok.
Because right now, my priority is to change the Band-Aid on my toe because it's already bled through the first one and to get myself ready for work.
And to the one who I hurt, who I know is reading this, I again want to tell you how sorry I am that my forgetfulness hurt you. Please believe me when I tell you it was not my intention and I fully accept responsibility for my mistake. I definitely need to be more considerate of your feelings in the future.
I promise to try to do better in making you feel loved and important in my life, but I am asking you to extend me a little grace and understand that if I ask you to wait outside for a bit, it's not because I don't love you.
I hope that makes sense.
Now, I'd better get off the computer and go clean up the blood before work. Love you guys.