This year has been a bit of a bumpy ride.
Many of my friends reading this will already know bits of the story, but the very very short version is that Josh & I have faced a series of financial obstacles. And when I say “series”, I mean that it has felt sometimes like our own, totally un-fun version of “The Never-Ending Story”.
When your budget feels like a boa constrictor, life can get kind of discouraging. As a young mom staying home with my kids, with no access to a vehicle and very little we can do within walking distance, the sense of limitation has felt really intense some days.
I got to a breaking point a couple weeks ago when my extroverted toddler - who hadn’t been out of the house or seen other people in several days - completely regressed with his potty training and, in fact, decided it was a great idea to not only poop in his underwear, but also to PULL IT OUT.
When he walked into our living room, holding out turd-coated fingers and whining like a lost cat, I completely crumpled. I mean, we’re talking ugly cry. Like, really ugly.
Somewhere after showers were had, stuff was disinfected, and my eyes went a little less puffy, I slowly began to realize several things.
The obvious first was that I needed community. I mean, I already knew this on one level, but now I really, really knew. My kids needed it. Our sanity (and, evidently, potty training success) actually leaned on it.
And because of how I’m positioned right now, I needed to invite community to come to me. So I started asking friends over for coffee. I started a journalling group. And these small decisions made a world of difference, very quickly.
In this, my posture was changing from going and doing, to staying, resting, and asking.
And, in this practical change, the posture of my heart also began to shift. The way I was praying started to change. The deeper, harder thing I needed to see in the midst of everything was that I had to learn how to rest and receive from my Father.
Rest sounds easy. Rest sounds like serenity and calm and the spirit of a tropical beach upon my life. Name it and ca-laim it, yes yes Lord amen. Right?
Well, no. Turns out, it’s not quite that.
Rest isn’t inactivity. It’s an activity, one that involves the opening of my heart to accommodate the peace and provision of God.
Rest involves a change of posture so radical that it can feel like slowly unbending every bent limb and appendage of my life.
The way I pray reflects the posture of my heart.
Am I scrunched up in fear and control, holding on tight to the way things were or are, scared of what is coming next? Have I put up a shield that is difficult to penetrate? Or am I open, soft, yielded to what God is doing in myself and in others around me?
Prayer doesn’t take away problems. But it meets those problems with three very, very important words:
God has solutions.
He does. When we have to wait on something, it doesn’t feel like it, but his solutions are real and they are promised and they are perfect.
The question is, can we open our hands to receive? Can we yield to the hard thing in faith that the hard thing itself isn’t a dead end, but rather an entry point to the promise?
I can’t diminish the reality of suffering. It’s real. It’s hard. Limitation is hard. Life feels choking, stifling, sometimes.
But I can come to God knowing he legitimizes my hardship and recognizes the weight of it - AND that he has solutions. Expectation of his goodness completely changes my perspective of my problem.
Pursuing expectation in the place of limitation sets the tone for everything that is to follow.
Expectation doesn’t eliminate the problem. BUT Expectation prepares my heart for the solution.
Expectation is an attitude that breathes in hope like a runner breathing in oxygen, as the Father teaches me to persevere through my problem.
God invites us to wrestle with him, as he did with Jacob. He wants contact with us. He wants proximity. He wants engagement, and dialogue. He’s never far off. In fact, the Bible says he’s inside of us, living and moving within (1 Cor 3 v 16).
He's that close. He really is. His presence is like a big feast sitting right in front of us, all the time. But just as a person has to lift a fork and open their mouth to eat, our posture defines our experience of his presence.
I don't believe God always wants me happy. I also don’t believe he never wants me happy. I believe in what I think is, Scripturally, a much more accurate portrait of God’s character: that he enjoys my happiness, he delights to bless and heal and provide, but that his greater priority is revealing his goodness.
And the process of revelation is just that: a process. A journey, a landscape of trials and victories and valleys and peaks and limitations and tension and wonderful, beautiful release.
My posture is changing. I’m becoming more honest with God, more open-handed. Expectation doesn’t mean I think God owes me anything. It means that his priority is always his goodness and therefore I can say he has solutions for my most stupidly boggling problems and that my valleys will, one day, somehow, be lifted up.
And in the meantime, he’s coaxing my heart open to receive the fullness of what he has. I can soak all my questions in the satisfying beauty of his presence.
Because he is love, and that’s his nature.