Monday, August 31, 2009

How to Enjoy Where I am When I am Not Where I Want to Be, and Other Lessons From Having to Wait, Part 1

It is no secret that we are a family of four living in Spangle, WA that desperately wants to be a family of four living in France. As every adult knows, we don't always get what we want. But those who trust in Jesus have the blessed assurance that even when we do not get what we want, whatever we have is better: Better for us; better for our hearts; better for our souls; and better for the kingdom of God.

Apparently, the best possible place we can be, for now, is here. Believing this to be true (and hating it at the same time) has led me ponder some of the things I am learning in this place. I will share these thoughts if you promise to have grace with me in the process. Notice I said "things I am learning" and NOT "things I have fully mastered and in which I am now an expert."

Raise your right hand and repeat after me:

I, (your name), solemnly swear that I will have grace for Jenn, who is, after all, quite a mess. She clearly speaks out of ignorance and acts out of impertinence. Nevertheless, she wants to be more like Jesus, so I will pray for her, and hope for her, and even point her His way to the best of my ability.

If you took the pledge, you may continue to read.

Lesson #1: Lifestyle of the Poor and Obscure

I don't think that a show with that title would ever make prime-time, but I'm sure you've all heard of it's counterpart: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. We love to see how the affluent live, with their lavish digs, their fancy vacations, and their luxurious amenities. Personal pleasure is the goal of life, and those who can afford it seek it on every front. But I am learning that perhaps I am not MEANT to enjoy every moment of my life. Did you just gasp in disbelief? Me, too! I LOVE pleasure. I like to be comfortable, and highly valued, and nicely groomed, and well-fed. However, I am beginning to realize that while I can be CONTENT in all circumstances, that does not necessarily mean that I will be comfortable.

When I am comfortable, I am not likely to make a change. I have a reminder of this in my daily life. I have been running for about 12 years, and no matter how fast or how far I have run, the most difficult part of my route has been the same 30 yards...the 30 yards from the bed to the front door. Why? Because I must deny my own personal comfort to get out of my warm, cozy bed to go work-out in the often cold, sometimes wet world. It would be easier to stay in bed. It would also be unhealthy, unfulfilling, and unproductive.

Discomfort is often on the bridge from complacency to calling. The temptation, my temptation, is to turn around at the first sign of discomfort. What I need to do, is lean in to it. Endure it. Embrace it.

So life is a little uncomfortable right now. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Financially. Geographically. Fashionably. And you know what? I'm not turning back. I'm celebrating, because I think this means that we are on the bridge to our calling. In other words, we're moving in the right direction! In essence, there is no way to France except through this discomfort.

So I say, "Bring it on!"

I am going to embrace the discomfort of living the lifestyle of the poor and obscure--but know this: I am not talking about financial poverty and obscurity. Nope. I am talking about spiritual poverty. I am living in that place of the destitute soul. Real discomfort goes way beyond having to pinch pennies. Real discomfort comes from our awareness of our own depravity and an inability to save ourselves. The Gospel must do its work in me, to change me, and that happens continually as I grow in my awareness of the enormity of my spiritual debt.

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty.

What exactly does it mean to "embrace the discomfort of spiritual poverty?"
  • It means choosing to accept the peace the passes understanding even though my life is riddled with ambiguity.
  • It means answering with a smile and the words, "I don't exactly know" instead of a sneer and a scream of frustration when the 17th person of the day asks me when we are going to leave for France.
  • It means admitting that raising support is a challenge, but delighting in the fact that God is using His body to get us to France.
  • It means reminding myself that personal comfort may appear more attractive today, but in the long run, it will leave me spiritually fat, dissatisfied, and irrelevant.
  • It means doing the hard things, not out of guilt or vain ambition, but because He has called me to these things. For the one who has called me will enable me. Apart from Him I can do nothing.
  • It means having difficult conversations with David, disciplining growing boys, and serving others when I would rather spend all my time getting pedicures, reading novels, and playing scrabble on Facebook.
  • It means eating the apple instead of the ice cream at least four times out of five--after all, ice cream is not exactly evil, and total depravation is not the answer--still...I do have those last 3 pounds to lose, and so every choice matters. And yes, this, too, is spiritual.
  • It means accepting help from friends, when my pride wants to say, "No thanks, we've got it under it control."

Uncomfortable yet?

Me, too.

Isn't it great?

His grace is sufficient.


  1. Can I just say I love your heart, I love your writing and I love your honesty. Thanks :) alyssa

  2. "Less is more" a good friend told me!

  3. How is it that the BEST, most INSPIRING, most MOTIVATIONAL, most ELOQUENT writing and speeches come out of those gut-wrenching moments of passion when we are at our absolute end?! And, yet, your post is evidence of that exact passion that comes when one finds themselves crossing over that bridge toward their calling -- and choosing to follow through rather than turn back toward those comforts that feel good but eventually lead to complacency. I'm with you, Girl! I say Bring it on! Hallelujah! (Do we get to bring a bowl of ice cream along for the journey?) smile.