In my backyard, we have no fences - which has ended up in me running countless times after my little monkeys all over our neighborhood.
However, there is one fence that lines the back of our yard...a 6 foot chain link fence. Behind this chain link fence is a big grassy hill.
If you didn't know any better, which most people don't, you would think we live on the edge of some random farm land in the middle of the city. Some visitors have thought it was someone's really really REALLY big backyard.
But in fact we live on the edge of a ginormous gravel pit. The property is home to a gravel/rock/cement company.
When we first moved in, I was aware of the beep-beep-beeping of the big dozers and excavators all the time (they start work before the sun even rises.) If you never went upstairs in our home, you would never know it's back there - but from our room, it consumes our view. The pit is quite ugly. I really didn't like it when we moved in...it actually made me disgruntled. The stupid gravel pit even housed a couple of coyotes until someone finally took care of them. When we moved into our home, the gravel pit was probably about five stories deep - after the initial drop. Though it was deep, we could see the bottom...all the work that was going on...constantly.
And all that separates us from this ominous hole in the earth behind our house, is a chain link fence and a little grassy hill.
We just passed our two year mark of living here, and I was upstairs and glanced out the window and I saw the gravel pit out our window. And it caught me by surprise. I haven't actually seen the gravel pit in so long. I haven't paid it any attention. I've gotten used to it. So, I walked up to the window and glanced out, and though I could see the usual heavy equipment at the little hub - I no longer could see the dozers and the excavators working. The hole is so much deeper now, that from where I stand, the bottom has to be at least 10 stories deep.
"Hmmm...," I thought. That little grassy hill has done quite the good job with disguising the big gaping hole in our backyard.
And then, in my heart, I felt this quiet whisper, "That's what I've been doing in your life Melissa. I've been taking down the fence - and revealing to you the pit. The places you have left uncared for, paid no attention to, let get out of control...the places that have gone from being tiny issues to being huge gaping spiritual holes."
So I began to mull over and process that the next couple of days. What issues were there? What issues had I been ignoring and therefore allowing to become these big gaping spiritual holes?
1. I was depending, relying, focusing on Dave as being the provider for our family. For my livelihood. For my everything. Dave was my everything. And no, I'm not one of those weird women who worship their husband, but I stay at home, and Dave goes and slays the dragons and brings home the reward and we eat...in theory. And I suppose in my comfort of that routine, my attention closed in on Dave - and turned away from the One who was truly providing...God.
2. When I am lonely, happy, sad, angry, excited, bored - really, any emotion whatsoever, I decided to celebrate, medicate and even distract myself with food. I really like food. And not apples. I like pasta, and cookies, and ice cream, and bread, and all that stuff that isn't good for me. Beyond liking it, I would think about it - I never would turn it away. Instead of going to God with prayers and supplication in everything, I ate and food became my comforter, my healer, my friend. No, I wasn't 400 pounds - but I was overweight, and because I'm tall (thank you Jesus) and have had 4 kids (thank you Jesus) people would always say, "You look great! You don't need to lose weight! You look wonderful for having 4 babies!" And so, even though I knew I was being sinful in my obsession with food, I could excuse it and continue down that path.
3. My self worth, how I feel about myself, my future, my purpose has become tied up in how I feel I am performing as a mother. Wowzahs. Ouch. Maybe not for you, but for me, this one stung especially bad. My self worth, how I feel about myself, my future, my purpose has become tied up in how I feel I am performing as a mother. And there we have it - the reason for my impatience, my anger, my frustration. It's a vicious cycle! I want to be a good mom...ok, a perfect mom. And I'm not. So I get angry. And then I parent out of anger and frustration and feeling like a loser, and then my kids respond to me that way and then I get angry. And there we have it. For five years, give or take a couple of days, I have been feeling sub par, less than worthy, undeserving - because my value and worth was tied up in something, in little people, who aren't the givers of my value.
Talk about three gaping holes. But people in my world, even my own hubby, haven't said anything. Why? I mean, can't they see these huge chasms in my life? Nope. Because I have covered them over with a pretty grassy knoll...which presented itself in my life as distractions, excuses, humor. Even ultra spirituality could disguise what was going on...as long as no one decided to look a little harder.
And God has been removing that fence. And it's been painful. And I don't like it.
Dave lost his job. Then he lost his job again. No fault of his own, but it happened and God has provided and sustained us over a month longer than I could foresee us being sustained. I am still uncomfortable, and still unsure of what the future holds, let alone tomorrow - but I know that God is really the one who is out there slaying dragons on our behalf - not Dave. Dave is just the tool that God has chosen to use up until these last few months...God needs to be my everything - not Dave. And slowly, but surely, over these last few months God has been filling in the dirt in that hole - and replacing it with life and solidarity and focus - on Him.
I've lost 30 pounds - and I still crave sugar...a lot. And pasta. And all those foods that aren't what my body needs. But instead of medicating, or celebrating, or distracting myself with food - my focus has had to change. God has had to become my comforter. And quite honestly, there are much easier things to replace food that medicate and distract myself more than God...like Facebook. Or the phone. Or the TV. But I've realized, that God doesn't want to medicate, He wants to heal. He doesn't want to distract, He wants to get to the heart of the issue and carry my burden. My body is His temple, and I need to treat it as though it houses the Lord - and not like it's a huge garbage can needing to be filled constantly. This hole is slowly but surely being filled as well - although I have this suspicion that I will constantly have to keep an eye on this one, as there are so many things that are so convenient beckoning for my attention.
My children are my children. They aren't perfect. They aren't calm, quiet, always obedient and never disrespectful robots. They are children. And I am not a calm, quiet, always gentle and never screaming mommy. And I will constantly, consistently continue to fall and mess up when it comes to parenting. And instead of beating myself up over my failures, and then telling myself that I'm unworthy and then parenting out of that negativity - I need to remember that my purpose was there before I had children, and will be there after my children are grown. If I operate my life, my parenting, my marriage with the mindset that I am a chosen child of God, knowing that my value comes from nothing that I do but instead the love that God has for me - I'm much more patient, and loving, and gentle. I scream less, I parent better, I'm a more loving wife. That hole is going to take much longer to fill up - since I have lived my entire life (as I believe most of us have), finding my value in what others think and feel about me.
But the God who created all those people, the God who created all the food, the God who provided all the jobs - is demanding, in my life, to be my one and only God. And though it's painful, the view is getting much prettier.
Do you have any small holes in your life that you have allowed to become big gaping chasms? Are you not attending to some spiritual issues in your life, because you have allowed yourself to be distracted by other "grassy knolls" that cover them up? Are you ready for God to remove the fence and get to work?