Kara’s Collection: Living Well Within Limitations

from an article originally posted September 5, 2014…  

Each day presents each of us living with a choice. It is often hard to choose well. We are so regularly caught in the flow of our going, we fail to see the choices presented to each of us in our living. Most of our choices consist of attitude choices, living choices, choices to live in a hardened, bitter state or a grateful, soft state. If we are honest the battle for these attitudes is fierce.

As a mama of many ages, I see the growth in my children in this area. It takes maturity to move beyond your felt disappointments in each day. I see a beloved child hear no, and watch as their heart makes the difficult journey facing disappointment. I keenly realize my job is not to be the supplier of the happiness of my children. Contentment, joy, happiness—they are not fruits of getting what we want, they are choices governed by our hearts attitudes.

Some days I watch the fit, the struggle, the disappointment spent on my children. I watch the flying words, the grumpy faces, the angry behavior, and I get it. I simply get it. I have days I would love to give full vent to all the disappointments I astutely feel in this life.

I remember hearing a sermon from Timothy Keller about Job. He simply pointed out the heart of Job, and there was something so beautiful that he highlighted. He highlighted that in the pain, agony, disappointment of life, Job continued his conversation with God. The dialog of his heart continued in a vertical direction. I loved that. So when I look upon the disappointments of my children, I get it. I can patiently love them when they choose poorly with their attitude. It’s a beautiful moment for me to show them the gospel. I get to show them a pursuing love that is not dependent on their behavior. Jesus loves us, loves us, loves us, loves us—bad manners, poor attitudes, tantrums and all. Not only does He love us, He longs for us. He pursues us.

When Jesus was facing his horrible end, which proved only to be his beginning, He asked God to remove the cup from him. He asked for a different story. But he was talking to God, he was not spending his strength complaining to those around him. Like Jesus and Job, I can pour out my anguish, my pain, my disappointment with my story to Jesus. He understands. But then, then with a lifted face I get to walk into my day kept. Beautifully heard and kept. And in that keeping, I get to walk in faith, hard faith, towards the strength of my brokenness. It is not a mistake.

In being heard by an involved God, I am able to face each hard breath with kindness I don’t feel. I am able to extend love I don’t have energy to spend, I can meet my life with a strength that simply is not my own. I press deeply into Jesus and get to live when my story feels opposite of living. I get to enjoy good moments on bad days. I get to look for the grace of God’s kindness to my family that is flooding, flooding, absolutely unbelievably flooding into my family. It’s stunning. I sit quietly and receive, receive graces I never expected, certainly didn’t earn, and I get to embrace love abundant. And this broken, weak vessel is then able to overflow grace, love, joy in ways unimaginable even to me.

Last night my dear Anna came up from the pool where I could hear the loud and joyful noises of my people playing with every inch of energy they have. Energy I do not possess. I was sitting quietly in my nest enjoying a cooking show. Waiting for the moment they all found their way to my bed and I could then love them with reading. Anna came and asked how my heart struggled through those moments seeing strength I no longer have. I don’t remember my exact answer, but truly, those are the places I get to choose. Do I grow bitter that I haven’t the strength for boisterous strength, or do I listen gratefully that my guy has beautiful strength to spend? And when he’s done, I get to capture my loves in my quiet strength, reading and loving them cuddled in my bed nest. I choose gratitude.

After the guys came up, Anna’s husband Andrew asked me what my limitations felt like. I simply said, sure I have sick moments, nauseous moments that are awful, but mostly I’m a mama with a very little tank. My energy tank runs empty often. I just don’t have much go. So I must carefully protect the strength I do have. Rest well, so I can go a bit. Plan my big energy events for the end of my chemo cycles. And when I can go, to go with all I have. It’s mine to spend- why would I reserve it for a better day?

But we all do that, don’t we? We reserve our strength, hold back our big love, wait for a better day to spend what is ours to spend. Why? Why do we withhold all the love that has been given to us to give? Why do we choose to live in unforgiveness, angry heart, bitterness? It took cancer to cause me to look, to question, to wonder why I don’t extend myself in love, in grace, mercy, forgiveness all lavishly bestowed on me in Jesus? I have had to look honestly at my poorly spent health within the confines of sickness. But you there, you healthy one reading, why do you withhold love? Why don’t you live in the overflow of today? Are you testing those around you? Is that fair? Love has been given you to give—you will not regret the giving away of what was never yours to keep.

Today, my tribe is on a long, beautiful bike ride. I’m quietly beside the computer spending what I have asking you to spend what you have. Look for the grace, live loved by Jesus, and know that today has beauty for you to capture. I will get to capture the adventure my kids have had today. I get to delight in their strong bones, and willing hearts to ride in the beautiful mountains. I get today. I may not have tomorrow. So goodness, I’m going to capture what is mine to enjoy. Won’t you join me?

Tuesday is fast approaching where this will happen again.

I’m praying desperate prayers into this moment. Prayers for grace, gratitude, joy even. Certainly I will meet my broken heart Tuesday, I will weep. It simply is going to be awful.

The pain will be present certainly, but so will the grace to choose a soft broken heart instead of an angry bitter heart will be there as well.

I want to leave again from a quote from Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling) in last night’s reading: It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.

I wept reading and rereading this quote last night. My dreams have changed, my living has certainly changed in this beautiful awful journey. But we have learned to capture life while it’s still before us to live. In small beautiful moments, we have learned to capture life. It should not have taken cancer, and I’ll go further and said it doesn’t have to. There is beauty for you to capture today, even if you are walking unthinkable hard, and I know many of you are. Tuesday has grace appointed for it. It’s there waiting to capture us. Jesus is there, He’s tenderly ready to meet me at that new bottom. There will be beauty in my tears, and I promise there will also be laughter. Impossible laughter in the midst of the pain.

Pictures beautifully captured by my dearest Jen Lints—she has a gift for honestly capturing a moment well.