Saturday, February 20, 2021

Being a branch

My ears are ringing. All the time. And my mind is alive. All the time. My eyes looking over a room may seem casual, but they're not. They're evaluating each piece of property I own in that room, deciding the weight, size, and breakability of each object. I am mentally packing even when I'm not physically packing, and this all feels too familiar. Weren't we just here?

And I have a zero tolerance level for ridonkulous... What do you mean you didn't think you needed to shower after sweating all day?!? What do you mean my entire downstairs smells like dirty feet?!? What do you mean I still have to make supper after packing all afternoon?!? Okay... in all fairness, I knew I was supposed to make supper... but still. 

And my mind is filled with "what if's." What if we move back and it's not as rosy as we thought it would be? (Spoiler: we know it won't be.) What if we regret leaving behind all the incredible people who have made us their own here? (Spoiler: we will miss y'all like crazy! You are our people, and our doors are always open to you.) What if we don't love the house in Indiana as much as I think we will (and I really think we will)? What if the stupid radon detector the home inspector dropped off is actually a recording device that is permanently keeping track of the insanity in my home? Yes, I know I've gone off the deep end...

And in the midst of all of this there are SOULS in my house. Small souls that are processing a lot of the same questions I am. Well, maybe not the one about the radon detector, but... you never know. And it's ridiculous, but I am always surprised that they are feeling as many things as I am. That the weight of all that bears on me as an adult, one who knows what is going on, is just as heavy for those walking this journey of change who don't know all that's going on via email and electronically signed documents. Their heavy just finds its weight in the unknowns, the vast number of things they aren't given a front-row seat to and that they have zero choice to change. While I am bogged down by all the choices before me, they follow us, burdened by the fact that none of this is their choice. How unbelievably hard.

This is what they do know. Mommy and Daddy are stressed. There are boxes everywhere. All the friends that they have learned to love dearly will not be part of their daily lives in a few weeks. That hurts. The house they live in is being sold to strangers. Their parents are buying a house that we will move into, Lord willing, in early April. They are returning as changed people to friends who, most likely, have also changed. They are returning to a community that, due to the global pandemic, has also changed. That's a lot of change. Some pieces of the puzzle they used to call their life will not fit together anymore. And that has to be okay. 

That has to be okay. And as they process what that means for their lives, I struggle to find the space and emotional bandwidth to decipher what this move back will mean for my life. Will the kids still homeschool? Will they go back to school? What will my days look like if I am kid-free for SEVEN HOURS A DAY? That much liberty is overwhelming. What is God calling us to in this next season? How will we love our family and friends well as we re-enter the community? What will my Reader's-Digest-version explanation be for every time someone is surprised to see me in Indiana? Will they be disappointed that we returned? Will I?

I have no answers for most of these. Dwelling in the possibilities is a beautiful cycle of big, gorgeous dreams and sheer panic. Not really a stabilizing meditation. This week I've been in John 15, which is the only answer I have for the questions. The word: abide. It's really all I have the ability to do. Christ tells us in this chapter, "I am the vine. You are the branches." I have never been so glad to NOT be a vine. I'm not the source of all answers and all strength. Christ is. I'm just a branch. I'm receiving His life, His Spirit, His strength. They are flowing from Christ, who is so firmly rooted in His Father's love, to this lowly branch who feels like she has been pruned beyond all usefulness. 

And Christ continues, "Apart from me you can do nothing." Yep. Got that. Nothing. My ear-ringing meditations that dwell on possibility and catastrophe could not be further from what He has called me to in this moment. I am to abide, to stay, to remain in Christ. To stay connected to Him through His Word and prayer in the moment by moment crazy. Apart from Him, I can do...nothing. And in Him, some things never change. (Yes, I know I'm quoting Frozen 2. I quote Frozen 2 in most of my conversations, and you probably should be too. But that's another post...)

Christ is my eternal friend. His love for me does not change. My eternal salvation (like where I will spend the VAST MAJORITY of my life) is secure and unchanged. I will forever dwell in the presence of my God and Savior. I DO dwell in the presence of my God today. His grace is sufficient for me. And His power is perfected in the weakness where I find myself right now. His Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. And though I don't know all the curves of that path, I have enough light to do the next right thing, even when that right thing is retreating to my room or taking a nap. I can choose today to abide and to dream only the kind dreams, knowing that the pruning we're experiencing is preparing us for something good to come. 

 Abiding is my choice to listen to Christ and His truth and to refuse to let the din of this earthly life roar louder. This sounds high and holy until you realize for me it is actively forcing myself to remember that the radon monitor in the corner is JUST a radon monitor, no matter how many times that blinking red light tries to trick me into thinking otherwise. And more often than not, it's remembering that I am just a branch. That in Him, I can do all things. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. My ears are ringing and my mind is alive, but my soul abides in the God who never changes. He is the vine. And I am only a branch.