With my ninth month of pregnancy has come one of the most severe cases of “nesting” I have ever experienced. I am propelled by some merciless instinct to clean! Organize! Rearrange! Stock! (Nap!) Cook! Sort! Clean! Lamar called me last week and I laughed as I asked him to text me the info, because my hands were elbow-deep in Lysol wipes and bathroom gunk.
Yesterday, as soon as I left the office, the driving call of nesting was blaring in my head. Within a few hours, I had completely cleaned our van (in and out)–I’m sure I was a quite a scene with that cumbersome vacuum hose at Rain Tunnel. Ignoring signals that my body was sending, I ran to the DMV to update my license, then to Aldi for groceries–which yielded six heavy boxes of supplies that now needed to loaded into the van, and later, carried into the house. I picked up the kids, and as I drove home, pain began to seep into my bones. I am nearly always uncomfortable (short torso, growing baby–do the math,) but I was near tears.
As I pulled up in front of the house and considered the work that was before me, I lost all hope. I knew I needed to finish, but as I measured the task of unloading those heavy boxes, carrying them into the house, and putting them away… I confess. I despaired.
Even sliding out of the vehicle was painful. Instructing the kids to stay put for a minute, I grabbed a light load of other things and carried it up the six steps into the house, my hand shaking as I unlocked the door. I considered calling my neighbor to see if her husband was available to help me, but pride discarded that option. I knew I could do it, but that it would hurt. These are the tasks Nick normally does for me, when I plan ahead and do them while he’s home. I mentally berated myself for not planning more carefully. Diane, when will you learn?!
My spirit was tired, and with this vulnerability came an onslaught of voices–embarrassment for being so foolish, fear of the physical pain I knew I would feel, arrogance that restricted my ability to ask for help, stubbornness that forced me to finish. And weakness. So much of that.
These are the unromantic moments of life, when there isn’t worship music playing and reality is thick with normality. These are the moments that aren’t framed by inspirational propellant. They are your personal battles, far larger within than can ever be perceived from without.
These moments are where all your perseverance, all your becoming, all your spiritual growing, meets the rub of life. You will know the legitimacy of all you claim to believe when you encounter the stark negotiation of those ideals against your reality. One, the strongest, the one you have fed, will win.
In that moment, I didn’t have the mental fortitude to push through in some sort of spiritual conquest. In that place, it was the strongest thread of Diane that was going to rise to the fore. All sorts of shortcuts, every manner of complaint and self pity, every single possible temptation of bitterness or anger presented itself for selection. It wasn’t a moment of truth. It was merely a moment, unguarded, that would reveal the truth of me.
And it did. My heart looked for Him. Up from the very middle of me came a broken, audible whisper: Jesus, I need help.
You need to understand: it wasn’t “I need spiritual strength” or “I need love.” In that moment, those prayers seemed cute in the paradigm of my challenge. To all other humans, it was a silly little conundrum: six boxes of groceries, up six steps, into my home, and into their places. It might as well have been Everest.
I can’t explain to you how fully Jesus swelled up within me in that moment. Immediately I heard tenderness in my spirit: My grace is sufficient. My power is perfect in your weakness…and it wasn’t a wrote answer. These words, almost cliche to my mind, transformed into a sword of real supply and sufficiency. I laid my whole physicality upon Him as I walked back out of the house, still aware of the task ahead, but feeling less alone.
That’s when I saw Aly. She had unbuckled and was examining the groceries, exclaiming over the new treasures. My heart stirred and I said to her, “Aly, I want to tell you about something Jesus just said to me.”
Simply, she said, “what was it?”
I said, “I told Jesus I needed His help, and He said…”
But before I could finish, I realized I had lost her attention. She heard me said “I told Jesus I needed His help,” and immediately she went to one box, a smaller one but still heavy, and lifted it. I tried to caution her, both concerned about its weight being too much for her balance, but also that she would drop groceries and ultimately, make my task harder.
But she looked up at me, and her voice was confident and firm: “Mommy, I can help. I am strong. I can do it.”
Practical power, practical sufficiency
And she did. In the step-by-step maneuvers of a little girl, she wiggled the box to the edge, climbed down and hoisted it awkwardly. I helped her adjust its load and with a proud smile, she heaved it into the house. Dax, seeing her example, immediately demanded his important load. In that place, both of them knew they were important, strong, capable, and helpful.
I don’t know how to explain the picture of the church that she gave me in that moment. I told her that I asked Jesus for help–and look how her identity responded. So quickly, so purely, and with such strength, that she presented to me the truth of herself, her brother, and ME. She didn’t look at me distantly and detached, waiting for the answer of how Jesus brought courage into my heart. Instead, she partnered with His righted foundation in my spirit to actually bring forth His perfect power in my weakness. Aly revealed the power of Jesus, within the simple, timely application of her ability and energy applied to my challenge.
Together, the three of us took a slow pace and bit by bit, in smaller loads than the six large ones I originally became so daunted by, the groceries found their way into our home. In that rich moment, all three of us were developing a much more full picture of His power and sufficient grace. Practical power: hands and feet in service to one another. Practical sufficiency: each one contributing their strength.
On Sunday, we asked the question, How does the Lord Speak to Me? Many times this begins with seeing Him. Then we grow into a thoughtful awareness that opens us to what He is saying. To develop the open awareness of the Word Himself, teaching you and building you in every moment–even the seemingly impossible ones–is such a beautiful adventure.
How does the Lord speak to you? In all of the ways, in all of the moments. The key is that you will hear–you will harvest–from the ones you train your willing heart to be aware of. In your normal moment, in the weak moment, in the broken moment, the awareness that you have fed…the disciplined beauty of surrender that you have laid your entire self upon…that is what will win. That is the voice that will either allow your detour or resurrect your identity.
Become aware. How does the Lord speak to you? In whatever way you have grown aware of Him. In whatever creative, unusual, abnormal, nonreligious, unscripted way He can imagine to gather your affections into Himself. May your regular moment, your weak moment, also be the place in which His Word rises up within you and transforms normality into supernatural revelation.