There Are No Burned Chicken Fries He Can’t Use

lightstock_56068_medium_tamara (1)I was sick last month. Really sick. Like, probably should’ve been in the hospital kind of sick.

I was actually sick in December. I had a cough and some aches and just a tinge of moodiness. Tinge.

But I ignored the sick and then in January I was really sick. Pneumonia kind of sick.

But I started getting a little bit better.

And then I got a little bit worse. And then better again.

And then I lost my voice. Which is really hard for someone who likes to talk as much as I do. My ENT put me on a five day vocal rest to allow my voice to heal and find it’s way back. That was extra hard.

My pastor/boss suggested I take the time of silence to reflect on my heart; to be silent before the Lord. Which is something a pastor/boss should totally say but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t tempted to poke him in the eye when he said it.

I tried to use a white board app for a few days to communicate to Charlie and the kids but they got really tired of how long it took me to write my words. They’d walk away before I finished and I couldn’t yell for them to turn around so I learned to clap to get their attention. That went over really well.

By Day 3 of the rest I was sneaking little words in here and there because I was over the silence.

But on Day 4 I had to stay home to wait on a repairman and so I allowed the silence to envelope me. And in the silence I grew weary. I couldn’t even express where all the weariness was coming from so I just called out to God, “I’m so weary.”

I had a list….

The sickness that wouldn’t go away.

The friend that isn’t in my life so much anymore.

That person who hurt me when they said those words.

That thing I wanted that fell through.

The work that seems too much and too hard.

The decisions that aren’t clear.

The people I want to protect but can’t.

That place I want to go but don’t know how to get there.

I sensed God, like a kind father, sitting there listening as my heart wept. There were no big things – just a pile of minor heartaches; little inconveniences. I felt his hand on my back, rubbing gently, as my tears started to silently flow.

“Lift your head.”

The words came softly across my heart and I knew what they meant.

God loves me on the good days. The ones when I am dancing through the hours with a song of praise on the tip of my tongue. The days I can quote scripture and I carry a slightly glowing aura about me ’cause me and Jesus are BFF’s.

God loves me on the bad days. The ones where I make list of all the ways He has wronged me and disappointed me and not given me what I want. The days I stomp my feet and shout.

He loves me when I’m rational and clear and precise and thankful.

He loves me when I cry over burned chicken fries. (If you leave them in the microwave too long they get hard and my kid won’t eat them and it’s a real problem that deserves at least three tear so don’t judge.)

He loves me when I’m moody, when I’m joyful, when I’m sad, and when I’m ambivalent about the whole freakin’ world.

“Lift your head.”

I just needed to take my eyes off my problems for a second to see the loving mercy and grace he was offering me – that he’s always offering me.

My tearful moment didn’t change the world around me. I was still on vocal rest and still waiting on a repairman. I still wanted the thing that fell through and I still wanted to go to the place I don’t know how to get to.

I was reminded, however, that I’m not alone. God knows what it feels like to be let down by a friend. He knows the ache of disappointment. He experienced physical pain. He knows what it’s like when people don’t get on board. He knows all the things my heart knows and more. He doesn’t condemn me when I feel the feels but instead comes and sits with me on my couch.

I saw a post on Pinterest yesterday that was a picture of a cupcake with the words “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” While I was a little resentful of the cupcake temptation I knew the words were true.

I am better, healthier, happier when I acknowledge the crappy days with gratitude. When I quit fighting the muck, settle into it, have a good cry and ask Jesus to just hold me. I know he uses bad for good; that he blesses the struggle. I can hold it all tightly in my fist and grow hard-hearted and bitter or I can open my hands and let him take it all. There is no sorrow, no heartache, no burned chicken fries He can’t use. He just asks me to lift my head.