Monday, June 1, 2015

be careful how you're 'being careful'

The kids played behind the glass wall as we hunched over the table intent in our conversation.  It was the first chance I'd had to sit with my friend, Rebecca, and process through the struggles of the weeks before.

On that day nearly 2 years ago, Lucy, our daughter, had just received her diagnosis and I had been drowning - in fear and grief and learning this new way of life.
I knew I needed to come up for air long enough to go into public and sit with someone who could see me and this situation with tenderness and truth.  It's a treasure to have a dear friend who is also a counselor.  Halfway through the conversation I told her I was thinking about quitting.
She looked at me questioningly - Quit what?
My job.
My responsibilities.
Every committee and every commitment.
I had to clear my plate completely so that I could get a handle on what we were dealing with.

She didn't hesitate in her response - Don't do it.  Don't make any big decisions right now in the middle of crisis.  Wait.

It was not what I wanted to hear but the words came out as truth and love and so I let them sink in.  It wasn't long before I knew she was right.

I knew she was right when she reminded me that quick decisions now would have far reaching consequences later.  Consequences that I may not have thought through completely.

What I wanted to say was - I don't care.  But before the words crossed my lips I recognized them as being rooted in fear and fatigue.

In reality, I did care.  I loved my job.  I still felt called to teaching and leading in our church.  I still had important work to do and commitments to keep.
The emotions of that crisis had blurred my thinking.
At the moment I was acting without care and that was a slippery black-diamond-kind-of-dangerous slope.

There was a time when I read that passage like my son once read an extra tall slide at the park - with fear and trembling.  
That kid was the king of 'careful' and it kept him on the sidelines far too often.
Be careful.  
Let fear guide you and protect you.  Nurse your worries into full-fledged terror.
Sounds ridiculous but we can get to that place, can't we.  We can let being 'careful' become something bossy and oppressive instead of something wise and encouraging.

Do you know what I think God wants 'careful' to look like for us?  Just what it says...
Being full of care.
Giving a darn about what we say and what we do and how we live and the decisions we make.
It's called living with intention.
What are my intentions?
If I don't have any that's where the fool part comes in - the lack of wisdom.

There is a word that comes in the shape of a key that unlocks the door of wisdom.  Are you ready for it?  Here it is...
It's the only way to stay full of care and wisdom during the most emotionally charged times in our lives when our brains are fuzzy and our decision-making is compromised.
Never stop listening.
The day we stop listening is the day we succumb to our pride and become ruled by our foolish emotions.

Believe me, I've been there.
Avoiding people who would give me good advice I didn't want to hear.
Convincing myself that I had it all figured out.
Rationalizing decisions that would eventually hurt me and others.
Believing my situation was so bad that I had the right to do whatever I felt like doing.

But I've learned those hard lessons and so that day in the restaurant I listened to my friend.
And then I went home and sat still and quiet for a while and listened to God.
And I did that over and over and over again until the answers came clear.
Even though it didn't feel like the right thing to do at the time, I trusted the thoughtful words of a friend over my fragile emotions.

If you don't believe me, maybe the wisest man in the world could convince you.  Maybe the story of his fall from grace, flat on his face, taking an entire nation down with him will give you something to think about.
Solomon stopped listening.
Read it for yourself.  
He got really proud and really bossy and starting taking orders from his emotions instead of from his God.
He was warned.  He didn't listen.  That was his choice and he was not the only one to suffer the consequences.
In the end, we all have a choice to make.

We can say -
I am going to live my life however I want to.  
I am going to do whatever I feel like doing.  I don't care.
We can let our feelings boss us around.
We can determine to do the wise thing, not the right thing, but the wise thing.
Even when I don't feel like it, I choose to be full of care.  I choose to live with intention over emotion.  I choose to not be ruled by fear.  
And so I go to God's word and a few trusted friends.
I shut my own big mouth and just listen.