Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wine poured out

When many things are going wrong, it can be very difficult to get to the bottom of what is really wrong.

We tend to problem solve, starting with the thing making the most "noise". (Often that really IS the problem and we need to just use common sense and take an ibuprofen, or put a screeching toddler to bed.) That was my morning this morning. Not a headache or screeching toddler, but a headache, screeching toddler, my health bottoming out again, I've somehow gotten a month behind on our schooling and still not "accomplished" anything, feeling that sense again of letting people down, struggling to be a good steward but having constant new expenses that crop up... Some of my physical ailments are quite simply just making it hard to think clearly. I've been overwhelmed with all the typical Mommy things, piled up laundry, clutter piling high, dental appointments, feeling hormonal, etc... (I could go on, but trust me, you don't want me to).

And somehow, focus was veering off into left field. Maybe it's lacking good time in the Word. Maybe it's taking in too many worldy philosophies through the tube while I haven't been feeling so hot. Maybe it's forgetting to take those thoughts captive that are specifically designed to discourage us in what we already know to do. Probably all of the above...

I tend to be pretty hard on myself (which I know, is sin), and instead of enjoying all the things I've checked off my list in a day, I add more and more until I'm absolutely wiped out and feeling discouraged about everything I didn't accomplish. (Never accomplish). The things I do accomplish simply felt like they weren't enough. It's that feeling of waste, futility and vanity that Solomon described so well in Ecclesiastes.

Much of the work of mothers is continuous and revolving. There are always dishes, laundry, poop, the bathroom always gets REAL dirty just moments after a deep scouring...tummies are always empty soon after they were filled (often before clean up from the last meal has even been finished!) I was feeling that old familiar sense of pouring my life out, feeling like I'm coming close to an empty tank and not remembering. Not remembering what I know to do!

This morning I was evaluating myself in light of all those things I'm struggling in and not measuring up to....all the unchecked boxes again, while using my own feelings and emotions as the measuring stick-- The litmus test in the current new age Oprafied folly of self actualization and fulfillment.

Ironically it was a chapter from Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart book specifically titled and intented "The Childless Man or Woman" that shook me out of my backwards thinking. Everything she says is always so inspiring and some of my dearest friends are childless, so of course I read the chapter for the childless.

Her context was encouragment to the childless to still pour out the love they would have on their own children on others while not being discouraged by their feeling of loss, but to just keep pouring. She quoted the italian preacher Ugo Bassi's beautifully put words. It turned my day around around in such a way that I must quote it for you.

We are to measure our lives by loss and not by gain, not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth, for love's strength standeth in Love's sacrifice, and he who suffereth most hath most to give.
~Ugo Bassi
This quote was straight from heaven for me today. Funny how God is able to do that isn't it? I had even been moping in the fact that my health problems are requiring me to cut out all sugars, starches, refined carbs, anything fermented, even the sugar in my beloved cup of coffee, my daughter's birthday cake, not to mention wine. The words "wine poured out" written so many years ago, were ordained for me today. Elloquence of an italian preacher, but a concept straight from Jesus Christ who was the ultimate sacrifice poured out so that we can have this hope and freedom.
It's such a temptation to measure ourselves by what we see, isn't it?! When we stop that folly and assess what we've been pouring our lives into... what may be invisible to the naked eye because it is yet a little seedling under mounds of dirt... we can feel refreshed and hopeful again knowing that a godly harvest is up ahead taking our worth in the fact that our Father always sees what our human eyes do not. We can lay down the heavy burdens of needing to see, as well as needing others to see what we're here for.


Jenni said...

Beautiful Liz. It is so easy to get off track, especially with a bunch of kids running around our lives. I feel those same feelings at times, as though I just want to run away and hide for day, so I can cry about my situation. It is in those moments that I usually quietly pray for God's strength and grace to get through this moment with a better attitude. I'm amazed at how often His grace comes so quickly to me when I really ask. I'm so glad to hear that you found His sweet voice in the midst of your hard times. You are a good sister and friend. I'm so glad that you and Brian and your sweet babes are in our lives. I think about you often and always encouraged at the thought of you guys, you are such a blessing to Chris and I. Blessings!!

Marjie said... managed to bring a tear to my cheek:) That was a wonderful quote; thank you for writing about not only the good days (from the mountaintops) but from the hard days (in the valley)...days when His strength must be made perfect in your weakness. Keep on "pouring" my friend, and I have no doubt that your efforts are not in vain. And isn't it great that even though you may not finish all your tasks each day, that we are promised this: that He who began a good work in us will complete it...that His work, in your life, your husbands and your children will be completed. Phew, it doesn't all rest on us:) Love ya...