I woke up this morning with a heavy sadness. Not the usual Monday morning gloomies, but that tangible weight of something amiss. I dragged myself out of bed and corralled the kids. Little Miss was in tears, hating Mondays and scrambled eggs and socks with all her might. The rain drizzled down the living room windows, forming rivulets that looked an awful lot like those nine-year-old tears. Aidan reached beyond the front window screen and pulled in his poster, now dripping wet. "It looks like it's crying," he lamented.
The boys faithfully donned their colors, Drew even throwing a handful of Skittles in his lunch bag, and they were off. After waving goodbye, I headed back toward the kitchen, passing the family room on my way. There it was. The drooping Seattle Seahawks flag, still barely suspended by a single, fat red thumb tack. I wanted to cry. Again. What on earth was wrong with me? It was just the Super Bowl! Wasn't it?
I continued to the kitchen, steeped my tea, grabbed my Bible and journal, and finally sequestered myself under a blanket on The Big Chair in the living room. Clearly I needed to sort out these irrational emotions. I needed to back up, calm down, and get to the bottom of this. It didn't take long. I quickly realized that this Super Bowl -- this outcome -- had become "my thing." But let me take a few steps back to explain.
This has been a particularly busy season for me, more busy than I've been in a very long time. Treadmill kind of busy. That juggling kind of crazy where if I can just keep my act together, everything will work. But toss in one little thing, and it will all come crashing down. Well, that "one little thing" happened last week (insomnia followed by too much dog poop, of course) and it threw off multiple responsibilities more than it should have.
Along with this busyness, I'll be honest, is this season-of-my-life sensation that I'm just "doing." There's nothing particularly glamorous on my horizon, and I'm simply going forward with my juggling for the family: cooking, cleaning, teaching . . . wash, rinse, repeat . . . ad infinitum. And so what happened was this: I somehow made the Super Bowl my thing. I made it the hope on my horizon, the glamorous thing that would make this week -- this month -- memorable and great. I was that sure the Seahawks would win. And if you haven't gathered the outcome by now, I'll break it to you: they didn't. And I was really, truly devastated. My horizon felt bleak, once again.
So back to The Big Chair in the living room. I'm in Leviticus, and this morning verse 10:10 caught my eye: "You must distinguish between the holy and the common." As I thought about this holiness, this distinction we must make, I realized that The Lord had been hearing me and answering my prayer about this treadmill life for days.
He answered through the words of a friend who gently reminded me that it is usually when we're quietly in prayer and fasting that we hear the most clear answers from the Lord. He answered through Pastor Steve's message yesterday when he reminded us that God speaks to us through His Word because our hearts are new and made to listen and learn: "I will give you a new heart . . . and I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ezekiel 36:26-27) And He spoke through Ann Voskamp's recent blog post which gently affirmed that enduring through the difficult is just where we want to be: "Hard things just keep calling you because you're meant to answer to higher and better things . . . . You're meant to do hard and holy things because they are the next thing to get to the best thing."
There it was again: this holiness. This distinction I must make between the holy and the common. But sometimes it's those common things -- the seemingly endless cleaning, cooking, chauffeuring, even the championship cheering -- that are the very practices through which we find the holy.
I sipped my tea and the rain cleared away. The sun streamed through the window, and almost instantly a brilliant light fell across my teacup. I had just read the words recorded in my prayer notebook, reminders from God's Word and God's people: "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup . . ." (Psalm 16:5) . . . "Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled" . . . . (Spurgeon) . . . "The emptier my cup is, the more space there is to receive Your love and supply." (Catherine Marshall)
My teacup filled with His light, His supply, His hope.
One of the commercials that I most enjoyed during the Super Bowl was the Dodge ad featuring men and women who had lived to be at least 100 years old. We tend to perk up when the voices of experience have the stage (or we should) and I loved the succinctness of one classy woman in particular: "Keep your eyes open . . . and sometimes your mouth shut!" Her own eyes gleamed -- she had seen much, I'm sure -- and she seemed to know the wisdom of her statement.
When we keep our eyes open, we are more clearly able to "distinguish between the holy and the common" . . . and we are more clearly able to see the holy in the common. I love it when the Lord shares very specific "custom made" gifts with me. This morning, after the sunlit teacup moment (itself a custom made beauty), I walked into the school room to find that the bird feeders outside the windows were teeming with life. Not just the usual chickadee or two, but a flurry of chickadees, juncos, finches, and even a rare, merrily bobbing towhee. The holy in the common . . . the beauty, the color, the life, the hope . . . ready for those with open eyes . . . on an ordinary Monday morning.
I stepped forward into my day with the prayer that I might keep my eyes open, faithfully doing the next thing -- the next holy thing -- no matter how common, no matter how un-glorious. Because my true hope is built on nothing less than Jesus. And my horizon is far from bleak. It is aglow with my Savior's dazzling, radiant glory.