May 7, 2013

A Bad Sunday Morning

This morning--a Sunday--was one of those mornings. I saw it coming Saturday night, so I went to bed at a decent hour as preventative medicine. My first thought when I woke, however, was, "It's Sunday morning," and I turned over and tried to go back to sleep out of defiance. Despite my best efforts to still my whirring brain by pulling the covers over my head, I couldn't sleep. And I also knew I couldn't magically skip to Monday morning--I would have to face the day.

I went straight to the coffeepot and then, coffee in hand, stared at the cover of my Bible for a long while. I finally cracked it open, read a few pages, and furiously penned prayers in my journal. Like a seesaw, each sentence moved from surrender to defiance to surrender to defiance again. I just don't have what it takes for today, Lord. I don't have the strength to get my kids ready and go to church without help today. I don't want to be a pastor's wife today because everyone will expect pastor's wife things from me today. Can I please go back to bed? 

Eventually I got it a little more worked out with Him and sincerely offered myself to be used at church however He saw fit.
After breakfast, I got on Facebook and someone had posted something about pastors and I immediately went back to the beginning, like nothing had been worked out at all. I ranted in my head, surprising myself at how vitriolic I could be against someone I didn't know. Lord, I'm in a desperate place, obviously fueled by hormones. I'm just tired of everyone expecting so much, wanting so much. Or maybe it's just me expecting stuff of myself. Help me do this day well, which at this point means getting through it without snapping at people.

I resolved to just make it through what I needed to make it through. Often on these days, I try to hide by holding babies in the kids' ministry or cleaning up stuff so I don't really have to have conversations of any significance, but the Lord didn't allow that. He wanted me front and center in the service.

With my defiant, stubborn little heart, I went through the motions, but I chose to pity myself at how I am forced to serve, forced into a role that, on days like the one I was having, I don't want, thank you very much. And I looked around and thought that if people knew what I was thinking and how horrible my heart is, they would finally have evidence of what a bad pastor's wife I am.

That's when the Lord came gently, speaking to me about things that were different than what was going on in the service. You see there, Christine? You see how you're focused on what you do? You see how you think spiritual transformation is up to you?

Yes, I could see it. In fact, it's the story of my life that keeps morphing and infecting everything if I'm not vigilant to guard against it. I slip into defining myself based on my accomplishments or my performance rather than based on the grace of Christ. As a pastor's wife, it means I slip into evaluating my own performance based on the number and quality of conversations, connections, and acts of service. If I feel things are going well, then I am doing well. But I know this is dead religion; I know it's just me playing a role.

You're doing it again, Christine. You're attempting to work at something that I haven't asked you to work at. You're dictating to Me how I am honored. I don't want your obligatory service. I want you. I want to give you grace. I want you to stop thinking about what you do and simply receive My love. That's why I wanted you here today.

I realized that my defiant heart simply revealed my reluctance to admit weakness, that I actually couldn't pull myself up by my Pastor's Wife bootstraps to make myself feel better or make an impact on others. I realized that God wasn't exasperated by my weakness and failure. I realized the extent and power of His grace.

And I relaxed into the beautiful surrender of faith.

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Do you have Sunday mornings like that sometimes? Or am I the only one? 

A passage that the Lord reminded me of is a passage that I'm committing to memory because I need it that bad. Perhaps it will speak to you, too?

Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?...Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:2-4)