Monday’s confession of faith

I probably look like I always love him and I never doubt

And for many months this can be true

 

For many months the thought of him is sweet and I believe his words and am

So happy to be part of his family

The Bible is alive and the Lord’s Supper full of meaning

And when I sit in church on a Sunday morning, the sound of my own people singing hymns

Is the feeling of slipping into a warm and fragrant bath

 

But I will tell you honestly

Sometimes

I cannot stand us

Sometimes our meetings are endless and our trivialities a millstone

And our pastors insufferable

(Yes, I married one of them)

(His wife is even worse)

Sometimes God’s people are not that good

I said sometimes God’s people are not that good

Sometimes God’s people are not that good, folks

And the Lord’s Supper tastes like breadcrumbs and nothing more and

The magic does not descend

 

Sometimes it is a small discrepancy in Scripture that I stumble over

Calling into question the whole book and everything I’ve swallowed

 

Sometimes it is just life, when so many bad things happen at once that I wonder

How can it be that someone out there is taking care of us?

Would life look any different if he were nothing but a figment of my imagination?

 

And

What if he is there, but not who I always thought?

And

Can anyone really be that good?

 

Sometimes I drop into darkness and know that the world is empty of a Messiah

And that hanging all my heart on this one man to be true

Is folly

 

So I cry

 

And then

I blow my nose and think

Well

Here I am

If I can imagine a God better than the one there is, what kind of contradiction is that?

Wiser people than I have hung their hope here and found grace to live and die by it

(Some of them attend church with that pastor’s wife

And love her anyway)

 

I have not found another philosophy on earth

That makes anywhere near as much sense as the one that says

The Master suffers

And pain heals the world

 

And

Discrepancies aside, the fresh-air truth blowing out of those pages gives me reason to go on

There is more right about this amazing, historic, eerily accurate book than wrong

 

And

If he is not

There is nothing to explain the beauty

And how buds form every spring and seeds grow and the earth is renewed and people are sometimes kind

 

And I pray please, please be real. I need you to be real.

Who will I turn to instead?

 

I probably look like I always love him and I never doubt

But I believe in doubt

As the birthing stool

Of faith

 

The Monday after

It’s Monday and I awake with a headache, facing too many tasks on too little sleep.

We’re headed into the crazy month of August… fire hall training, fostering training, an editing project, a taste-test project, a ten-day visitor, beans and peaches to can, back to school, two weekend trips and a daughter’s birthday.

Today I have two cakes to make for a social, three loads of laundry, three children to tend. My house looks like the Nazis invaded on Sunday and strewed as many items as possible over the floor. I make a deal with my sons: either you stop having bad dreams or you clean the Lego pieces off your floor before going to bed.

I hope someday I am grown-up enough to decorate a cake for strangers without ordering the kids out of the kitchen mid-process and having an emotional meltdown.

It’s that kind of day.

Last night we had communion at our church and almost I stayed home. My faith has been shaken these last months, and I feel small and sinful, unworthy of the “righteous” stamp Jesus placed on me. Thank goodness His work in me is not done! I did not plan these words to my congregation and only in the moment of speaking did I know they were true: I want to manipulate life so that I look good.

The doubts and sins tumbled from my mouth into the safe, the so safe ears and hearts of His people and left me empty and cleansed, and when His bread and wine took their place they washed me with sweetness. All I know is that I need Jesus terribly, and I need His people, though sometimes I hurt them and they hurt me and I think we cannot go on together. This is the only place I know to find Him.

After thirty-some years of living and extensive thought, I have concluded there are two things of which I can be certain:

First, that my small protections and deceptions are never as complete as I think they are.

And second, that the taste of His bread and the savor of His juice helps to heal the broken places of the world.

Yes, I am quite sure.

Two mites

Confession: My least favorite part of church is taking up the offering.

This has nothing to do with how we take it up (into innocent wicker-and-burgundy-felt baskets) or when (slipped between the announcements and the songs), or who or how much or why

No. It’s all about the drama.

You see, we give our sons an allowance of a dollar a week per child, payable on Saturday in four quarters with the understanding that one quarter goes to Jesus on Sunday.

Problem: I have a very inventive son who loves money.1

1“The love of money is the root of all evil.” Ah. That explains it.

There was the Sunday he forgot to bring his offering quarter along to church.

And then the next Sunday, when he forgot it again.

And then the next, as we headed out the door for church—“Son, did you fetch your offering quarter like I told you?”

“Yes, dad.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, dad.”

“Show me.”

Checking right pants pocket. Dry. Checking left pants pocket. Hmm. Checking breast pocket of shirt. Nope. Innocently puzzled look on face of son. “I thought I had it…”

Bilbo and the Ring, my dear, Bilbo and the Ring. “Go get it please.”

And then there was the Sunday when this scenario was reenacted publicly, as he stood in our pew searching through pocket after pocket, the usher standing patiently looking on.

And then the time when instead of dropping the quarter into the plate, he attempted a heroic rescue out on behalf of the quarter his brother had just placed there.

And the Sunday when he put the quarter in—sort of—and pulled it back out, and put it in, and pulled it out… and at our insistence on actual relinquishment, burst into loud wails.

And finally this Sunday, when after much preliminary grooming he put it in beautifully at last—just as his sister returned from Grandma’s pew with a very distressed face. “Mommy! My purse!” Swiftly we dug out her quarter, but not swiftly enough to catch the basket; hastily we chased our prey back the aisle, and captured it near the back. Rapidly we deposited the quarter; quickly we turned about—and nearly flattened the usher who had sneaked up silently behind.

Sigh.

Church doesn’t have to be easy. I expect to labor in prayer, to face deep exposure in confession and testimony, to be scourged with truth in the sermon…

but the offering??

Father, have mercy.

Owning home

Confession: I can’t help but wonder if it is this way for everyone—
if the sound of singing at your own church on a Sunday morning
is deep comfort
and healing
like the smell of your own home
and the feel of your favorite blanket.

We returned to sorrow and joy interwoven: birth and healing, loss and death.

Three of my dearest friends have given birth this summer to beautiful baby girls. Welcome to the world, Frieda Rebekah Cassandra. May you each become as lovely as your mother.

It is so good to be home.

*****

I posted a family picture from our week on my About Me page, and updated Current Reading.

Sunday mornings

I sat beside him long ago when the brush of his sleeve against mine sent fire all down my body.

I sat beside him hundreds of times when his arm was solid and comforting against my own.

I sat beside him when there was such pain between us I shied away from the softest touch of his coat.

I hope to sit beside him when we are old, when his shoulder is no longer distinct from mine, but we are sitting there together melded without thinking into one.