WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO FINISH WHAT GOD STARTED
"Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth." C.S Lewis
I spend a lot of time at our kitchen sink. I wash bowls with residue oatmeal leftover from the morning. I scrub plates that usually are only half-eaten, rinse out sippy cups, and empty out the sink only to start over again the next day.
And in so many ways, my life is a lot like what happens here.
Although it's quite easy for me to get through most of the dirty dishes, I begin to stumble by the time I get to the pots and the pans. Sometimes, I just leave them for tomorrow. At first, it was a point of contention between my husband and I, and now it's become more like a running joke. And more honestly, a place where he showers me with lots and lots of grace. But actually, it's a taunting reflection of the things I pray to see changed in my life. Those things that I want to leave for tomorrow, instead of having to deal with them today.
I want to do a load of laundry everyday. I want to write life-shattering words every time I sit at the computer. I want to have crafts and adventures planned for my kids every week. I want to wake up early every morning. I want to work out everyday. I want to have dinner on the table by 5:30 each night.
There's actually been good change in a lot of these areas. And it inspires a lasting hope in me; that God's doing a deeper work. But I don't want to just change some of the time, I want to grow out and up from these things so that they're ingrained into the way I do life. I want to see continuity in my habits; in these things that I've been called to steward well. Most of the habits, more like the responsibilities, that we've been charged with are annoying, daily, and seemingly meaningless. And yet, we all know that despite how much we might hate the chore, we can't leave a sink dirty for long; it will begin to rot. We can only go so long living like a slob - letting our homes come to ruin, and our bodies and souls too. We have to finish what we started, or rather what God started. We have to take care of what we've been given.
Most of my friends tell me that I'm pretty hard on myself and I would agree. It's around this time that I could throw grace around like confetti and then, drop the mic. After all, perfection died with Jesus and we don't have to work for what He's already completed.
Yet, grace was never meant to be used as an excuse to keep living in our sin. Instead, it's meant to compel us forward out of it. I don't want to be handed another reason not to take care of my responsibilities, I want to find a way to manage well what God's asked me to.
Our responsibilities aren't just choices; they're life. Our responsibilities are more than "have to's," they're "get to's." How we handle our responsibilities reflects more than our schedules, it reflects our character.
This is where I get stuck. And maybe you do too?
We want to see growth in our lives. We've planned and prayed and gotten inspired by those vision boards figuratively hanging up on our Pinterest walls. But we still aren't sure how to follow through. Sara Hagerty recently said, "Part of the overcoming, is the doing." Isn't that just so true?
But then, we find ourselves starting and then stopping, only to have to restart again a couple of weeks later. We feel a myriad of emotions -- defeat, shame, frustration, victory, and hope. It's a rollercoaster ride; and not a fun one.
There has to be another, much more significant part in overcoming what we've set out to finish. There has to be a point of reference for our stewardship.
I recently stumbled upon this article that pretty quickly changed, and then anchored, my perspective. The author writes, "We own nothing. God owns everything." He then goes on to say that actually, we operate primarily in the realm of responsibility. We are the managers of what belongs to the Lord and that which has been given to us. And as such, we should want to manage these things according to His plans and His purposes. He then goes on to ask, "Are we administrating our affairs and possessions as if they are ours or God's?"
I think that this is the missing element for each of us. This is how we finish what God has started; We remember that it was all His to begin with.
These children who look like me and sound like me? They have another, and actually perfect Parent.
This body I attempt to sustain with donuts and coffee? It was created by Another.
That man who I love and do life with? Someone loves Him more, His creator.
This blog, these words, and this gift of writing? They belong to Him. Just like everything else.
Maybe this list seems just a little bit extreme to you. But, if we want to see real and lasting change in our lives, we must get extreme! God has given us all of these things -- husbands and wives, children and homes, careers and passions, talents and abilities....they just don't really belong to us. They're on loan. In due time, they'll all return to Him.
I return to my kitchen sink and instead of grumbling, I start scrubbing. To honor Him. To give Him thanks for what He's given me. To steward well the things in this life that He has entrusted to me. To show Him that I take these gifts not for granted, but give them back to Him in praise. And for right now, that looks a whole lot like cleaning all the pots and pans.