I'm still at my aunt and uncle's house where I am feeling much better than I did last weekend, although I'm still mending. It's a slower process than I'd like as my health has been taking two steps forward and then one step back this week. I'm thankful to be taking so many steps forward, but that one little step backward sure has a way of messing with me.
I tell myself that I shouldn't be so discouraged by the two steps forward and one step back because, hello, that is how you dance the cha-cha AND YOU LOVE THE CHA-CHA, SARAH. Then I pull out my imaginary cheer leading pom poms and I wave them in my face and I say, "Rah rah shish-ka-bah, let's dooooo this cha-cha!"
Actually, my most natural response is to pull out my finger, wag it in my face and say things like, "You should be better at this whole life thing, and you should not feel so discouraged, disappointed and afraid of the future right now."
We all have a little kid inside of us that gets scared sometimes. My inner little girl is really scared of getting chronically ill again. Whenever she experiences any long-lasting sickness with mysterious symptoms she becomes very afraid that it will never go away and she melts into a puddle of tears. My counselor says this is normal and okay and I shouldn't be judge-y with myself.
So when I'm tempted to wag the finger at my little girl I try to instead say, "It's okay, you've had a hard journey. It makes sense that you're scared; go ahead and have a good cry." And then sometimes, if it's appropriate, I pull out the pom-poms and my little girl and I have a good laugh because trying to figure out what to do with pom poms is pretty funny. I find that being kind to my little girl is far more effective in calming her than the finger-wagging approach.
Being kind with my little girl does loads of good, but it doesn't always help me dance the cha-cha with grace. Because it turns out I only love the cha-cha when it is on my terms. I like the cha-cha when I take two steps forward toward a big bowl of ice cream, and then one step backward because I realize I left the whipped cream sitting back on the counter. But other than that? No thanks. I prefer the cha-cha when it's fun, lighthearted, and is choreographed to fit inside the plans I've drawn up for my life.
But in this cha-cha dance of life, God is my partner and he often has very different plans for me than I do. And sometimes, after a particularly long grind, I do not feel like I have enough spunk for any more back steps.
Yesterday, a friend reminded me of a Gospel truth that goes something like this: when you do not have any spunk left for more cha-cha back steps, then God's strength will show up on the dance floor, shining through your weakness in brilliant, jaw-dropping ways. [Paraphrased from the SCJ Standard Version].
I've been praying through the Lord's prayer a lot the last few days. I ask God for daily bread which, this week, means asking him for daily strength. A funny thing happens, though, when I get to the "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" part of the prayer. I hesitate. And then I pray it in a sort of wishy washy way because deep down there is some part of me that doesn't really mean it. There is some part of me that is resisting God's will because if I surrender to it then he just might guide me into more back steps. And this week, I just.can't.even. do more back steps.
This is the crux of the issue whenever I tire of the cha-cha: either I trust that God is guiding me well on the dance floor, or I don't. Either I give him my life as a living sacrifice, or I don't. And here's the thing: my feelings don't get to decide this for me. They're way too capricious to be reliable life guides.
This morning, I was sitting out by the pool with my hot lemon water listening to the birds and talking to God. I haven't heard him say much this week, but this morning he started preaching, and boooy, can he preach. His sermon went something like this:
"If you were married and tired because things were hard, you'd dig deep and keep on loving your man, come what may, no matter how you felt. And you know what? That's when you would really learn true love. Love isn't easy. Love is hard. It's hard like the wood of a cross and the steel of nails. When you die to the things you want and love most, you discover Love itself. So now is your chance, Sarah. You are in a marriage covenant with me and you are tired, and things have been hard, and you are wondering what the future will be like. Now is your chance to really learn to love me."
It was the most persuasive sermon I've heard in a long while, and within minutes, I was on my feet, determined to surrender to his leading in the cha-cha, back steps and all. I decided that I needed to make my body mirror the posture I wanted to take in my spirit, so I went into my room, laid on my back on the floor, and spread my arms wide open.
And then I prayed the Lord's prayer again, and when I got to the hard part I presented myself to him: "Here I am Lord," I said. "I am here and I am yours." And then I told God I wanted his will to be done in my life, whether I wanted it or not. I told him I choose his will even though I didn't feel super jazzed about it in the moment and even though it might mean more hard things in my future. I choose it, because he chose me.
And then I stood up and assumed the power pose my sister's doctor taught her. I widened my stance and raised my hands, and I spoke true things about each person of the Trinity into the silence with about as much vigor and conviction as I could muster.
I thanked the Spirit for residing in me and lifting me up to the Father in prayer. I thanked him for searching God's heart and then mine and then praying for me based on what he finds in our hearts.
I thanked the Son for being my advocate in the throne room of heaven, and for wrapping me tight in a hug that won't ever end.
And I thanked the Father for delighting in me, protecting me, and preparing good works for me to do.
When I was done, something wonderful happened: I felt gratitude wash over me because yes, life is one big cha-cha, but you know what? I get to dance it with Jesus. My married friends tell me that's what marriage is like: sometimes you choose to give your whole self to your spouse even when you don't feel like it, and then, by God's grace, the feelings of affection follow. I don't know if it always works like this, but I know it's a special Holy Spirit grace when it does.
It's a grace that made me want to celebrate, so I promptly drove to the farmer's market and bought a new pet cactus. Her name is Mela.
Isn't she the cutest little thang?
Mela, you shall be mine and I shall be yours and we shall have a better run than George and I did, okay?
When Mella and I were done grocery shopping, we went back to the house. And then I turned on Stevie Wonder, and God and I, we danced.
Sometimes, instead of thinking about possible back steps, you've just gotta get up and shake a tail feather.
Thanks for your continued prayers, my friends. I continue to pray for you, too. Shoot me an email with your prayer requests.
Forward and backward, and forward with Him,
© by scj