For a while now, the Father has laid a series of words in my heart. When I first heard them, I understood them immediately. They carried a scent of freedom in them, like the smell of the sea and of open skies. I knew I was hearing Him, but I immediately felt my stomach cramp.
Here’s what He said: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”
Wait. Give me a minute to translate.
Some of my walk deeper into Jesus included healing out of a really ugly performance mentality. I felt that to be loved, I had to perform. When others left slack, left things undone, left things uncarried and unfinished, I felt the impetus to carry them. When others said no, said later, didn’t say anything at all, I filled the void, determined not to let the thing fall, determined to be faithful so others could be where they needed or wanted to be.
I’ll say it straight: I liked to be the hero, even if I was the only one who knew it.
(And I want to be clear in saying that I still have a strong standpoint in which I feel the Father’s sons carry weight. They commit. They labor and produce. They serve at great personal expense. Jesus really modeled the convergence of selflessness and identity perfectly.)
But over time, I realized my day-to-day life had somehow become comprised of things I didn’t want to carry, things that didn’t feel alive inside, and things that weren’t fun, important or inspired. Most of what I spent my life for seemed invisible, lonely and even wasted. It seemed there was no outlet for the enormity that lives in my depths. I started to cry when I reviewed my week and saw only glimpses of myself in it. All the rest had been spent bravely trying to stay faithful in the fog, happiness be damned.
I looked again, purposefully reminding myself that I’m a mom of young ones and so a certain amount of mundane repetitiveness is non-negotiable. And that helped, when I took away the dishes, diapers and laundry from the equation. No one gets fulfillment out of cleaning toothpaste off the bathroom counter; it’s the price of being Mom. And Paul himself recognized to Timothy that the duties of being mom brings about our sozo salvation.
But from that, I realized that some monotony, some mundane-ness, is important for all of us. The dull, dispassionate moments of plodding faithfulness are incredible times of refinement, discovery and development. Just as boredom is important for children, tedium tends to force our creativity to surface.
So could it be possible that the Father had brought me to this time of yawning doldrums, like a ship without wind, so that something new could be propelled up?
I sat over my kitchen sink, with all of this rustling around inside. I was unsure how to make room, to make space, for fresh new things without somehow becoming unfaithful to the things I had already given my word to. All of my give-a-damn was used up. That’s when He said it: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”
I want to share this thought, but I know how most people will likely read that statement. But Jesus knows how to talk to me–and I get that this one might need translation for many other people. I knew what He meant, immediately. He wasn’t giving me permission to divest myself from the burdens of giving my heart to humanity. He was liberating me in how I think about it, so that I could do it well. Let me explain.
It was time to, thoughtful bit by gentle bit, and in the right spirit, lay aside actions and expressions that weren’t mine to begin with. They were scripts, shoulds and sacrifices not compelled by the Spirit in the first place. Not that it was wrong on occasion to pick up something just for the heck of making sure it got done. But it was time to lay aside the savior complex, the hero complex, the assistant complex, the hey-can-I-play? complex, and especially the obnoxious hey-do-you-see-me? complex.
Like you, the love of Jesus alive in me cares about everything. Everything. He cares about it because we do. So if someone has a loss, a fear, a concern, a question, a need, or a thought, He cares. I hear His voice and I know how much He deeply cares. And so, many times, I respond in what I should could must do to participate in caring. I also feel their emotions and I empathize with them, so I feel a fleshly urgency to comfort that.
And gosh, I want to be all things for everybody. I want to pray about everything, help with everything, participate with everyone, show up for everything, support everyone… but here’s the thing. Sometimes, honestly, inside: I don’t really care.
That’s not to say I don’t care about the person. OH MY HOW I LOVE PEOPLE. I mean, deeply, people are my wealth. It’s still very important for me to stay. Stay in relationship, stay in participation, stay in faithfulness, stay in love. But the pressure I put on myself to express what is not inside of me drove into a renewed performance act that left no room for really me in Really Him. The pressure just left me at my kitchen sink, crying that I was not enough, that I could not care any more than I already had, tender though I was.
Literally, trying to care about everything was making it impossible to care anymore.
It’s OK to say “I don’t care.” The spirit of His words to me being: Diane, I trust your heart. I know who you are. I know you’ll engage well with your whole heart at the right time. Care when My Spirit takes you right into My purposes in you for them.
I heard His words to me and they shocked me, even while a deep breath opened up. Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?
Immediately I realized what we do: in our haste to prove we care, we leave the Spirit behind and respond in ways that calm the flesh of one another, soothes the need, throws the emotional life raft, carries the obligation—but often at the cost of entirely betraying our identities and our Source.
I wondered how many times our care-feigned response actually worked against the purposes of the Father inside a child that is crying for life in every place but the True Vine? I wonder how many times my response to the pressure to care was in reality theft against the very real, caring love He was endeavoring to reveal–in Spirit and in Truth, by identity and in full power, through living sons and daughters in their right places.
Look, here’s what Papa wasn’t saying: cross your arms and let your heart get cold. Tell them you don’t care. Be harsh and unfeeling. Don’t invest. Move on by like the priest and the Levite, elite and religious and dispassionate.
No. That’s not it.
Daddy was teaching me that we are all compassionate Samaritans–and each of us must fulfill that in the exact way He made us. If we, bravely and trustingly and faithfully, offer the custom blend of care that is genuine and generous in us, we will find that the full picture and revelation of His reality will be startlingly clear and powerful and glorious. But as it stands now, we keep stepping on each others toes trying to care in the way we feel we should, instead of in the who we are. And we are painfully abusing a vibrant symphony with a single, feebly-strung violin.
Some of us are going to always minister tenderly, with hugs and tears and comfort. It’s who we are. Some of us are going to bandage, heal and offer beds for rest. It’s who we are. Others of us will make sure needs are met. It’s who we are. Some will observe, some will carry, some will anoint. It’s who we are.
Some of us are huggers–it’s who we are. (And I wasn’t–but you are on notice that I have been converted and now need hugs quite regularly.)
And Jesus Himself–His love in us–will always be increasing, growing and becoming more and more fruitful and abundant. That is Who He is in us.
But it’s ok–in fact, I think it’s important, to know when it isn’t our time to care. Meaning, we quiet our flesh and talk to Holy Spirit: is this my window? Are you compelling me to respond, to act, to be, to do? Love, alive in me, be unleashed! What is love here–stillness or motion? Compel me into alignment with the heart of my Father. Pour Your nature and reality through the reality of me in this moment–either by doing something, or by doing nothing at all. I trust You to provide all their needs, to meet their heart, to join us together as one body. I care about them–show me where and when and how to put my care in motion. I lay down “should”…help me to trust my heart.
I think when we are compelled authentically in this way, we will only ever be moving in synchronization with His best ideas–imagine the harmony! We will be in beautiful partnership with His possibilities–for them, and for us, because truly, His grace is fully employed to ensure both of us are empowered to overcome and arise.
This clears the table inside of us, to care well, to give ourselves, to serve, even to participate faithfully in the mundane. The pressure is off—in fact, can I say, the time is over—for fake caring. For gestures meant to meet demand. For playing the part not alive in our heart. In its place comes a fantastic opportunity to care well, to love in Spirit and in Truth. This is true worship. And in my opinion, that is far, far more valuable.