When I was a child, my parents would play books on tape during long trips in the car. I have vivid memories of the back seat of our blue VW rabbit and a brown vinyl cassette tape case that held our favorite road trip listens: Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Simon, and all those marvelous, image-rich audio books...Gulliver's Travels, Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huck Finn, Rip Van Winkle. My mom, a teacher, fostered a love of reading long before any of us could pick out words on a page. The imagery of those stories, the background music, even the dialogue itself is still burned deep in my memory:
"Becky, I found a way out!!"
"Over here, (echoing) over here. Follow the string!"
"All right, I'm coming..."
The last few days, I've felt like Rip Van Winkle coming out of a deep, deep sleep. My body, my spirit, and my soul have needed rest, and I've been hibernating. In a broken world and in my broken body, I had to retreat. And even though it's been absolutely necessary for my health and the health of this growing life inside me, there have been a lot of consequences. I'm rousing from my slumber to a world that's different.
My house has been neglected. Beneath my couches are tumbleweeds of dog hair mixed with leaves and needles from outside. That "natural marbling" you see in the tiles on my floor? Stains.
My kids have been taken care of, but they haven't been lovingly tended to. They are overwhelmed and tired, struggling and needy, having nightmares and needing lots of extra snuggles.
My marriage has not been prioritized. Yes, there have been date nights. We've been praying together more than ever, given our desperate times. We've even shared a few laughs and enjoyed some late night talks despite the deep, aching exhaustion. But we are relating more like roommates than life mates.
Relationships outside of my family have really suffered. In a season where I've hardly had the strength to stay awake after my kids are down for the night, I haven't been texting folks, emailing, facebooking, meeting for coffee, catching up, praying for others, or caring for anyone the way I would want to. I haven't talked with my own brothers in months.
What can I say? I'm a broken person, in a broken body, in a broken world. I fall short, again and again and again.
If you are someone that I've hurt, neglected, or seemingly forgotten during this season, please, please forgive me. I'm so sorry. I love you and care about you and you are precious to me.
Here's the good news! God, who is rich in mercy and compassion and grace, is MORE THAN ENOUGH. In all the ways I fall short, in all the ways I've messed up, for all the times I've fallen asleep on the job, God has been at work.
I am an imperfect housekeeper. Thankfully, God gave me the grace for this area of shortcoming long ago and he also continues to send folks to help fill in with the upkeep of my laundry, cooking and cleaning. If you've contributed to the maintenance of my home while I've hibernated, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am an imperfect parent, but God is a perfect Father. In all the ways I fail to love my children well and meet all their needs, I can still point them to a Father who always loves perfectly and meets every need, in abundance. Thank you Father!
I am an imperfect spouse, but Christ gave himself up for my husband. For all the times I choose MY way, in the cutting remarks I make, in my selfish choices and bad attitude, Christ sacrificially loves, serves, and cares for Ben. Thank you Jesus!
I am an imperfect friend/sister/pastor/shepherd, but we have the Spirit, which is our divine friend, advocate and helper. In circumstances of inability, the Spirit is more than able to accomplish all that God desires for his people. God is so good that can use both our times of strength and weakness to bring about his perfect will in our lives.
I've woken up from my slumber to a changed world. But thankfully, different than Rip Van Winkle's sad story, all the people I love are still here! My house is just as I left it, maybe a little dirtier but it's still where my family lives and that's where I want to to be. My kids are resilient and quick to forgive. They still love me and want me around. My hubby grants me grace time and time again. In relationships where I've been able to reach out and confess my shortcomings and seek forgiveness, there has been reconciliation and healing.
God is healing my body, he's reconciling my relationships, and he's restoring my world. While I've been sleeping, he's been at work.
Grateful. Humbled. Sinking in a sea of grace.