Clean laundry.

Another confession about me. I’m a stuffer.

What kind of stuffer, you ask? Like you stuff your face with food? Well, yes, I do that. A lot. It’s another form of therapy for me. But no, I’m referring to something much worse than that.

I stuff “stuff.”

All kinds of stuff. Stuff that happens to me that I really want to blow up and spit back at whoever it came from…but I don’t. (Not usually, anyway). I stuff it. Maybe not all neat and tidy. But I stuff it. Where I can find it, but nobody else can.

I know exactly where the stuff in me is and I can readily pull it out if needed, but mostly I just keep it there, where it doesn’t hurt anybody else.

If you tell me something that “hurts,” I can put it in the “hurt” pile and you and I can keep on moving along. I promise I won’t bring it back up, I’ll just stuff it. But if I do ever need to bring it back up…I readily can.

If you say something that makes me “angry,” I can put that in the “angry” pile and you and I can keep on moving along (possibly after a bit of a silent treatment…but it won’t last forever.) That can be a bit of a sloppy pile, but it’s tucked away where you won’t be affected by it, either.

But then one day, after all the stuff has been stuffed, and my piles get too big, it’s time to take them to the cleaners. I can’t stuff anymore. Like that basket of clothes that the lid won’t close on and you realize you can’t put anymore in until you wash what’s already stuffed inside.

So I have to take them out. One by one by one. And put them in the washing machine and clean them. And then air them out to dry. Well, this is what I should do anyway. A lot of times, they just pile up and up and up and then I implode.  Or explode.

My husband likes to say “a five gallon bucket will only hold five gallons.” Yeah, I’ve heard that one a lot. For some reason, I have this uncanny ability to stuff things. Emotional. Physical. It’s just something I do. I stuff.

So, when my bucket gets full and it can’t hold anymore, I often choose the wrong course of action and explode.

It’s all a girl can do somedays.

And for a minute I feel better. But whoever and whatever was in the general vicinity is now dirty from my explosion. Or wet from the “ugly cry.”

I really want to become better at taking my dirty piles and sorting them. One by one by one. Washing them clean with thought and forgiveness and Truth. Then I can air them out after they are cleaned. And one day I hope that by learning to do this, my piles won’t get so big in the first place. Then I can leave room for peace and contentment and a clean heart. Instead of a dirty heart.

By stuffing so much “ick” inside me, it can’t help but bleed over to other parts of me.

My attitude. My speech. My ability to love and forgive. My ability to TRUST. I seem to have a lack of that lately.

Why is it so hard to believe that God will take care of me, when He has never proven He won’t? It just is for me. I admit that. There is another confession. I am a worrier. Big time at times. It is a super-duper horrible flaw passed from one generation to the next.

I am also a recovering control-freak. I say “recovering,” because at least I want to be recovering from it.

I lose all control when I feel like I’ve lost all control.

That’s why quitting my full-time job with benefits most people would die for, to stay home and be a mother and teacher to my two children and pursue a photography dream was absolutely crazy. And I knew the day would come that I would second guess my decision. Did I really do what God was leading me to do? Will the money really come that we need to buy gas, groceries and pay insurance…much less keep the lights on and the telephone working?

So far it has. And I have to believe it will.

This post is for me today. Maybe someone else is struggling with their faith. I know through my reading in Genesis recently, so many of God’s huge “heroes of the Faith” struggled, too. Abraham and Sarah chose to take God’s promise for a baby into their own hands. It created heartache and undue stress. Find that story here.

Good reminder. Stay out of God’s way.

When He promises to do something…He will. In His time. In His way.

Sigh.

Yes, I need that reminder. Often.

I’m not perfect. Just perfectly imperfect, remember? And I’m working out my faith daily.  One tedious step at a time. Sometimes one needless worry at a time.

I’m working on it. He’s working on me. Together, with His help, I pray I’ll be better at it tomorrow than today.

But I have to take it one day at at time. I just need enough faith for today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Now, I think I’ll go clean some laundry.

Graciously,
Meredith

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When your best isn’t good enough.

I’ve heard it. I’ve said it.

I’ve heard it a lot lately. Different people from different walks of life.

Completey separated. Sharing the same struggles. It never fails to amaze me how different we can be and yet so much the same.

Nothing I do is right. I cannot please anyone. I don’t even know what is right anymore. I’m just not sure God even hears my prayers.”

Been there? I have. And it’s a dark, lonely place to be. It’s the pit. Not “the pits”, as we say. But literally, the pit.

Our own hell on earth. And if we live long enough, we are all sure to fall in it at some point. For some unfortunate few, more than once in a lifetime. And for some it’s a daily hell.

Nobody knows. Nobody understands. Nobody can reach me.

I like it that way. Even if they could reach me, they wouldn’t have a rope strong enough or long enough to pull me out. I’ll just stay here. And die here.

That’s a a dangerous place to be. That’s a dangerous place to stay.

What others see as possible they see as impossible. What others see as “petty”, they see as earth shattering.

I made it out of my pit. Not alone. And not without a fight. But I made  it out.

I know others who didn’t.

I don’t want to know anyone else or love anyone else who doesn’t make it out of the pit. I will not give up on them without a fight. And I’m just human.

There is One who will also not give up on you in the pit without a fight. His rope is always long enough. Always strong enough. He is always there. Even when nobody else is. He always knows what you are feeling. Because He has felt it too.

Rejection. Despair. Grief. Anguish. Betrayal. Denial. Abandonment.

When the entire weight of the worlds sins were heaped on his gasping, bloody body, His one source of Life and Strength and Wisdom left him. Left him to die alone.

What’s so good about that? How could God abandon his Son when He needed Him most?

He did it so you and I would never experience that. We would never be alone. We would never have to know the true weight of our sin because He became our sin. Through his death and his resurrection we don’t  have to know death.

We may choose death. By denying the One who died so we don’t have to. But that’s our choice.

In turn, we can choose to live. We can choose to accept what’s been given for us.

We can take the rope handed to us and begin the dirty, hard, long and sometimes treacherous climb out of the pit. Towards the light.

We’ve been promised a way out. And God doesn’t lie. It’s impossible for God to lie. It’s not His nature. It’s our nature. Not His nature.

Remember that if you ever find yourself in the pit. Remind someone you know that is in the pit.

Our best doesn’t have to be good enough. Jesus’ best was good enough for all of us. And there is a way out. Into the Light.

Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

John 8:12 (ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

An Island.

Islands have always intrigued me.  There is an island in front of the one place on earth that means more to me than anywhere. A tiny dot on the Pamlico Sound in eastern North Carolina called Jarvis Landing. My mom grew up there and my brother, cousins and I were fortunate enough to spend summers of our childhood along the river shore. The island in the river is called Indian Island. An apt name, as one time coastal indians inhabited it. Also an apt name, as it always had an air of mystery to me. It was just close enough to always be in sight and seemingly at arms length, but just far enough away to be out of reach. You could get to it by boat, but tale is the mosquitoes were big enough to eat you alive if you ventured out onto the shore. And there were stories of teens in the past swimming to the island. Not us, I assure you.

The thing about an island is that it stands alone.

Embraced by water, yet always alone.  Unto itself. Different. Set apart.

Some days I feel like an island. Different than everyone else. Knowing what I know about myself and perceiving nobody else could possibly be like me. Feel like me. Share my pain and struggles. Have the same story.

But I know this isn’t true, either. There are people that have the same story. I was reminded of one this morning in church. She was an outcast. She lived a life nobody accepted, except those that took advantage of what she had to give.  She was the one nobody wanted to associate with. The one with the scarlet letter around her neck that was both invisible, yet clearly seen. She wore her rejection in the way she carried herself, the lack of eye contact she made, the time of day she drew her water so as not to meet anyone else.  She was rejected by people who were supposed to be “her people.”  Then one day, one very ordinary day, she changed. She was offered “living water” by a man she had never met, but she knew he was different. He knew her story. He knew her sins. And He didn’t reject her. He loved her. She left the well that day different. Changed. Set apart. I don’t know the rest of her story, but I don’t have to. I know the best part. The part where she found grace and redemption at the feet of her Savior.

I know that part of her story personally.  I have lived it. I have my own scarlet letter. I have my own sin past. I have my own sin struggles. But I’ve been to the well. And Jesus met me there, too. My well happened to be sitting on a rock along a creek, no less. And on that rock, with water rushing by, I also accepted Jesus’ gift of living water. It didn’t make me a better person. It made me a new person. With a new identity. It was only after coming to the end of myself that I was able to realize I couldn’t make it through my life on my own terms. My way was. not. working. Only after giving myself up and surrendering to my Savior, did I find myself. I did not give up on myself…I gave myself up.

I need that reminder from time to time. That I’m not who I was then. I’m a new person. My past does not define me. It has a lot to do with who I am today, but it does not define me. Not now it doesn’t. Before Jesus…my past was my identity. After Jesus…He is my identity. I may be tricked into thinking different, but that is a lie straight out of hell.

I am an island, after all. I am different. I am set apart. I am being made new.

Read John 4.