Sing for the joy that's found in setting up the pins and knocking them down

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It is well with my soul, but the rest of me struggles

Last week at church we sang one of my favorite hymns, When Peace Like a River.   I grew up singing it in the pews of my childhood church, Eric sang it for my uncle's funeral and because Eric also loved it, we sang it at his funeral.  The chorus echoes the phrase "It is well with my soul."  And as I sang it in the pew of my adulthood, I had to agree that my soul actually feels like it is doing well. While my soul is good, it's the rest of me that struggles.  

I think of it as layers.  My soul being the deepest layer.  My foundation.  A solid rock to rest upon.  On those days when everything else feels like it's falling, that place doesn't tremble.  It quietly sees me through each day.  This layer knows that God's promises are good and that all of this crazy life makes sense to Him.  This is the layer that sheds tears as I sing in church, because I know that He made this good place for me to stand, but this side of heaven it will also include some struggles.  

My surface layer is good.  That's the layer that most of you see as we work side by side, or sit across a meal from one another, I smile, I laugh, I make everyone feel satisfied with how well I'm doing and for the most part it's an honest representation of who I am.  I'm functional.  This life is feeling normal.  I can talk about the kids, about Eric, about my story and I can feel comfortable with letting people in on my life.  That top layer is genuine, but right now it's not as deep as I would like it to be.  Although I'm good at navigating in a way to keep that surface smooth and pleasant, I also know that the smallest thing can disrupt those peaceful waters.  

So what about the stuff that lurks between those two layers?  That's where the trouble is.  That's the part that aches for one more conversation, one more family dinner, one more text message, one more chance to lay my head on his chest and have him tell me that it's going to be okay. This layer also hates being a single parent, hates it for me and hates it for my kids.  This layer doubts. It doubts everything from how often I get my car washed to the sincerity of my children's faith life. This middle layer is quite simply weary of this plot line in my story.  That layer is sad and tired and even as I write this that layer is saying "get to your point and start folding that laundry basket you've been avoiding this last week."  

We all navigate these layers of life.  We have our public face and we have a soul that our heavenly Father gives us and that the Holy Spirit faithfully attends to.  Then we have that difficult in between stuff that shows up when in the middle of the night when sleep escapes us, or when our kids are dancing on our last nerve or when the hymn that we're singing is more about words and less about worship.  That layer tells me that the layers on either side are a fraud.  That I'm a fraud.  That I'm really just this inadequate person sandwiched between a smiling face and a steady soul and that I should spend all my time in this middle layer because that's who I really am.  By the grace of God and the faithful prayers of people who know me and even hardly know me, I continue the fight to grow my insides into the person everyone sees on the outside, Along with that but even more importantly, I want all my layers to radiate the God of my foundation.  

I know this won't just happen on its own, so my plan for these next stormy water months as I face difficult anniversaries, birthdays and holidays is to keep that middle layer in its place.  To shrink it back to a less disruptive size.  I want to make my surface layer more about true joy and less about just happy. I want that joy to be about God's grace and not about my own strength. I want that solid foundation to steady all the doubting parts that make me weary of trying balance everything on my own.  I want that foundation to quiet the noise and self pity of that keep me awake at night and distracted during my days.  I want that sure foundation to whisper into every part of me, "Be still."   

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”  II Timonthy 2:19

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.  Isaiah 33:6

He says, “Be stilland know that I am God"  Psalm 46:10

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