I have a really contentious relationship with my phone. It’s been awhile since we were friends. I’m not sure when I started to realize this truth but the phone ringing is much like the 6:00 news. The news tends to only showcase murders, riots, robberies, politics…….all things bad. Often, the phone only rings to share bad news. My dad has recently figured it out. When he calls, I panic. If I miss his call, he leaves in the message, “Nothing is wrong.” Bless him. But in all fairness, he’s called with an awful lot of bad news including the news that my mother was dead.
Today was the news that Craig was going to need surgery on his ear. Of course our deductible is paid this year but no one could get him in until January. 1K up front right after Christmas isn’t the greatest news — oh, and, well, surgery sucks too. He’s had 8 surgeries on his ear already. It’s never fun knowing that you’ve got to “go there” again.
Bad news no. 2 came in a text reminder that the temporary childcare that I’ve got for Aiden is, well, temporary and that once again my ability to do my job (while still being a parent) is going to be challenged again and very soon. Duress doesn’t cover it. There was a time when I felt like I could adequately answer a call to ministry and to parenthood (AKA — have it all) and now I’m not so sure. I made a promise to myself that I’d at least stop apologizing for my children because I, all the sudden, realized I’d been doing that, but I am still apologizing…..a lot…..all the time. I guess I’m drowning in the reality that everyone deserves better of me — including me. That is a miserable place to be.
I, of all people, shouldn’t struggle with the concept of hope. In fact, it’s Advent season. It’s a season of hope as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel — God with us. What greater hope is there than God walking alongside us in the struggle!? Right? RIGHT? Yet, I’m struggling with it. Not the reality of it but the little extent to which I find peace in it and that should just be crazy, right? I am a person of devout faith and I’m up to my knees in the “what am I gonna do”‘s (?). I am ever-so-thankful the that lilies of the field isn’t in the lectionary right now because, quite frankly, I don’t know that I could faithfully preach it.
Maybe the good thing here is that I don’t actually know too many people that don’t experience struggles. The “real world” isn’t all flowers and unicorns all the time (ok, well, it’s never unicorns….). It’s rolling pennies, sleepless nights, and tears mixed with joys that, on our hard days, we’re challenged to see. It’s Monday. I’m off. It’s still a hard day and I’m still prepping for the first Sunday in Advent when I get to preach about hopeful anticipation for the coming of the Lord. And there’s my phone…..sitting beside me……bearing the heavy load of the realities of life — my life at least — one in which I struggle.
It’s not a need for control because Jesus take the Wheel seems like a MUCH better idea right now but Jesus taking the wheel doesn’t always mean the path of least resistance. There are more hurdles, downed trees, and deer in my road interrupting a path of “success” than I ever thought possible. I’ve dealt with hurdles before. In fact I’m actually awesome at dealing with hurdles whether it be crawling under them, skirting around them, or leaping over them but these aren’t like road bumps — they’re like those giant road HUMPS and I just can’t get over them.
Oh, you thought I was going to get to an upper at some point? Nah. Not today. Maybe the “upper” in this is that I struggle like anyone else to find the sunshine for the clouds from time-to-time and today, well, I’ve got my head in the clouds.