With the shutdown of so much around me in the last year, at some point I noticed there was a shutdown going on within me as well. So much around me was different, and I began to lose some of the markers that tell me who I am.
Maybe that’s a little over-stated. Of course, I know I’m a child of God, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a leader. What I’m saying is that the way I interact in those relationships is different than it once was. Let me give you a few examples.
As a mother, I used to make sure my teenagers had all the supplies they needed for their activities, I took them where they needed to go, and I listened to them tell me how everything was going, helping with counsel and discipline as needed. The last year has given me so many hours with my children that our old way of interacting with each other was not really enough. Our relationship clearly needed to shift, but to what? I didn’t magically turn into “crafty mom” or “game playing mom” just because the world around me changed. Who am I as a mom now?
As a ministry leader, I used to meet with people and lead group retreats. When travel and gathering restrictions were implemented, the work I once did could not be done in the same way. In addition, the needs of my constituents were changing. I used to know what I was doing and what I was aiming for. I could tell when I was doing a good job. Over the last year, I have had many moments of confusion about what to do and how to get it done. At times, it has caused me to question my job and even my calling. Sure, I’m still a ministry director, but how can I help people now?
As a daughter, I used to pop into my parents’ house frequently. They lived a mile and a half from me, so it was easy to stop by on the way somewhere to sit on the porch and shoot the breeze with them. Well, back in September they moved. They now live 12 hours away. How do I build a new way of interacting with them when the circumstances are so different? And how do I fill the time that used to be spent with them?
I feel as if many of the building blocks of my life have been razed to the ground. While I expect a rebuild, some of the rubble from the past still litters the foundation. Have you seen television footage of people visiting their homes after a tornado came through? Maybe there’s a way to do a similar thing with the “storm” we’ve experienced in the past year.
Here’s an exercise that might be helpful. Think of your life as a house that has survived a tornado. As you walk through the rooms, notice what is still there, what is damaged, and what has been wiped out completely.
- What parts of your life are still intact, or maybe even improved? Give thanks for these things and allow the gratitude for these treasures to fill your heart.
- What has been damaged, is broken, or is no longer working as well as it used to? Instead of just pushing through, pause. Be honest about your disappointments. Share your frustrations in a journal, with a friend, or with Jesus. Consider if this area is worth fixing or if it is best to release it. Not everything can be salvaged, even if it was once quite valuable. On the other hand, restoring broken things requires patience and creativity. Neither is an easy process, so give yourself the time to reflect and make a thoughtful decision that is honoring and you can feel good about.
- As for the broken areas you are releasing and the parts of your life that were removed apart from your will, take some time to allow yourself to be in that empty space. You might imagine yourself sitting on the wiped out foundation of your house. While there is discomfort in the emptiness, also notice its vast potential. With all that has been stripped away, the place you are sitting now is the transition between one degree of glory and another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Without rush or pressure, allow yourself to imagine the possibilities. What might the Lord be preparing to build in the space that has been opened up?
There is a Scripture verse from Hebrews 12 that comes to mind: “’Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (verses 26b-28).
That gives me hope concerning the good things that were wiped out. Some of them may not be as gone as they look, but rather are the building blocks for what is yet to come.
As we walk through the rubble of our lives, it is a worthwhile process to mourn what we miss and to celebrate what was lovely, that we may also look in hopeful expectation to a life rebuilt that will last forever.
This is the fifth installment of our 7-week email journey of Making Room.