Friday, March 20, 2020

Please pick the blue jeans

Does anyone else's clothing choice determine their level of tolerance for adventure? Like if you put on your sweatpants, you automatically cozy in for a long day of tea and books and fuzzy blankets. If you're wearing dress pants and a button-down then, of course, you won't be getting out the finger paints that day. That kind of crazy will have to wait for another day.

The last few days have been hard for everyone. I don't want to make light of the hard so many of you are experiencing. So many families like ours have autoimmune illnesses and need to avoid people, even the people we love most. So many families are dependent on an hourly wage and a predictable school schedule, and they have been robbed of those things they thought were the most reliable. Lots of you are extroverts, which means the next few weeks look bleak. Coffee shops are closed. Restaurants usher you out with a to-go bag. And playdates are not going to happen for a long time. It's hard. That word seems so inadequate, even trite. Decisions that used to be perfunctory are now matters of serious contemplation and prayer. It's a whole new world.

In the midst of this, one really trivial decision hits me every morning. What will I wear? What will I prepare for my day to hold? How will I be ready in every way possible to love my children and my husband, to serve and benefit my neighbor, and to not go crazy (it's the little things, right?)? I have an idea I want to sell you on: pick the blue jeans.

"What?!?!" you say. "I finally get to work from home and wear my pajama bottoms for 24 hours solid. Why would I wear blue jeans? No way." But give me a second to explain.

When I wear my pajama bottoms, I'm pretty engaged in my own comfort. What do I want to eat? What should I read? How can I get everyone to leave me alone so I can enjoy silence with this cup of coffee? What are my personal projects that will make me feel successful? I'm fully focused on pleasing myself, but what if it's not about me?

Right now we have the opportunity to do (and not do) a lot of things for the good of many... so that they might live. I'm just going to be honest that if I'm wearing my sweatpants my mind just isn't tuned in to the frequency of thinking that involves others. I am putting myself first and am unwilling to rise to the occasion because, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm in my comfy clothes and this day is about me. I am far more likely to snap at my children because how DARE they behave like...ahem... children in need of guidance. I am far more likely to snap back in disrespect to my husband because how DARE he interrupt my alone time to communicate with me about our shared life. I am far less likely to run across the street and take in my neighbor's trash cans or answer their messages because obviously I'm the highest priority around here.

And none of these responses sound very much like Jesus, who at the end of a very long day was approached by a group of children. His response humbles and inspires me every time I read, "Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them for such is the kingdom of heaven." It's time to invest all we have in others. These souls that need us to love them are HERE and NOW. We don't get a second chance to do this virus thing. So I'm putting on my old blue jeans. The ones with holes in the knees that I so often use for gardening because I want my exterior to match what is going on in my heart. I am willing to do whatever is necessary in this moment, and how things (including me) look matters so much less that what they truly are. I'm here, and I'm ready to be poured out.

I am willing to drop dinner prep to answer a struggling friend's Marco Polo. I am willing to take a walk with the dog and the child who just canNOT handle the indoors another second. I am willing to use my evening alone time to plan for the next day so that our minds are kept focused on what is true, beautiful, and interesting. I am willing to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, even if that means showering before and after I make the delivery. I am ready to offer ideas and educational assistance to any friends who may feel like their creativity is buried under the weight of this difficult moment. I am willing to give up my quiet time to hear a child share their heart about all that is happening right now. I am willing to stay home far more than I ever thought possible and even stay six feet away from my dear friend at the grocery store because doing the right thing doesn't have to feel right to be right. There's critical intentionality to this moment, and I don't want to miss my opportunity to be a light.

And please know that all this pouring out would be fruitless and pointless if my heavenly Father weren't pouring into me with His Word and His Spirit. I would just end up depleted and cranky, probably wearing those sweatpants and locking the door to my room. Wearing my blue jeans means I'm gearing up for each day, trying to wake up before my children so I'm ready to respond and not react. It means I'm putting on my armor, and I'm entering the day ready to fight for what is right and not just what is comfortable. And let's just be honest, I'll most likely be declaring a comfy day soon because I'm just as human as the next guy and Sabbath rest is a part of our plan, for sure. We're on day six of this crazy here with no end in sight. Today I'm hanging a lot of my hope on the promise that we are not to grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF we do not give up.

Just because we aren't going out doesn't mean we are giving up. So pick the blue jeans, preferably the ones that you are willing to get messy... because we don't know what tomorrow brings and we're all rolling with the punches. And even if they don't get muddy dirty because all you did today was play a six-hour game of Monopoly, maybe those jeans will remind your heart to chose the hard work of sacrifice over the enticing promises of selfishness. Because it's not about me. And it's not about you. It's about us. You, my friends, are in my thoughts and my prayers. Our family fighting alongside you (from our house or at least six feet away) and rooting for all of us. So.. please... pick the blue jeans.