Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Rest Is Noise

It has been one of those weeks.  We've had a stomach virus at our house this week.  It's always made worse when mom has it. :)  My patience is thin and my capacity is lessened.  My poor kids.  I had my two youngest home from school with me today after a night of all of us being sick.  They were hungry and the thought of having to make them food literally sickened me.  But, they had to eat so I pulled a can of chicken noodle soup out of my fully stocked cabinet.  I opened it, dumped it in the pot and turned the sink on to fill up the can with water.  I stirred it and set it on the stove.  In a few minutes it was done and I pulled a few other things out of the fridge, filled some glasses up with water and lunch was served.

I grabbed some medicine out of the cabinet, popped a few pills and went and laid on the couch while my kids ate.  A while later I picked up my laptop to do some work so I wouldn't get too far behind.  All the while, I was inwardly (okay, and outwardly too!) complaining.

But then I started thinking about some of my neighbors in other parts of the world.  I started thinking about what their day would look like if they were sick and their kids were home from school hungry.  I walked myself through each step I had taken at lunch time today and pictured what it would be like for them...

My neighbor in Africa would wake up sick and weak, with lessened capacity just like me.  But likely she would wake up that way every day due to lack of nutrition.  Her children wouldn't be home from school for a day because they had a 24 hour virus.  Her kids would be home from school because she couldn't afford to send them  or because they were seriously ill and too sick to go.  When her kids told her they were hungry, she couldn't just wander over to a fully stocked cabinet and get them food.  She'd have to look in their eyes and say "We don't have any.  Let's go try to find some".  If she happened to find some food to cook, she'd have to walk a long distance (perhaps miles) to fill up a container of dirty water to boil to cook.  She'd have to collect wood for a fire.  She'd take her children with her while she searched for what she needed, likely carrying the little ones on her back the whole way.  What took me five minutes to do would very well take her half a day at the very least.  And if she was lucky enough to feed her children, they would be hungry again soon after. 

While I take my medicine for my poor little tummy ache, she lives with her pain.  I open my laptop from the comfort of my couch and do work that provides me with more income in a month than she'll ever see in her lifetime.  She doesn't know where her next penny or meal is coming from. And yet...I complain.  God must want to sigh and hang his head at me sometimes. 

I am SO stinking comfortable in my life.  Even after three years of God prying my eyes open to finally see the poor and vulnerable...I still find myself so wrapped up in ME.  Yuck.

I look around at all the things that I have and all the ways that I protect myself from even the slightest discomfort and I'm sick all over again.  I was listening to Tom Davis speak this weekend at a justice conference and he was talking about how we RUN from vulnerability.  We view vulnerability as weakness.  We numb ourselves from grief and pain.  We make it so that everything in our lives is protected and stable.
We have life insurance, home insurance, car insurance, our kids wear helmets every time they get on anything that's Protect, Protect, Protect.  Shield ourselves from anything and everything that might cause us pain.

And yet, God doesn't ask us to protect ourselves.  In fact, He says the opposite.  He says to get vulnerable.  He says to give up everything we have to follow Him - including our safety and comfort.  He says we may not have a place to lay our heads at night if we follow Him.  He says we might be asked to sell all our possessions and give them to the poor.  He actually PROMISES us that in this life we WILL have trouble - it's not if, but when!

And yet, I go about my days far from dependent on God.  When we have SO much stuff in our lives, our need for God can tend to slide away.  I heard someone say this week that we don't pray for our daily bread because we have cabinets full of it.  We know where our next meals are coming from.  There's no need to ask for it.  Wow.  Isn't it God who gives us the ability to work so we can earn a living and put bread on our table?  At the end of the day, isn't everything we have a gift from God?  When will I start living fully in the realization that God will always, always give me what I need and that I can let go?  I can hold the blessings in my life loosely and recognize that there may come a day when some of them will be gone.  And it will be okay.  Because at the end of the day, God is always good.  And He has only asked two things of me - to love HIM with everything I've got and to love people like I love myself.  The rest is noise.


  1. Your comment above really hit me, "God must want to sigh and hang his head at me sometimes". It's funny how often times I think he's on my side when I complain, nodding his head in sympathy and understanding. Of course that would make sense if the world revolved around ME!
    Thanks Amy for being vulnerable with your life. You teach me a lot of what it means to 'dive deep'. I'm so glad you're my friend!

  2. Someone in my life found our her husband has a slowly debilitating disease with no cure...... only a progression of muscle degeneration. She was apologizing because when they were with family that life closeby recently they didnt stop by for a visit. I was sad that she felt she owed me an apology. My reply was similar to your post. I told her the only thing that she should be doing is the Lords will and loving her husband. The rest is just trappings..... we should all be focusing on the same things. The blessings the father has bestowed on us and the calling.....

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I've been feeling the same sentiment for myself int he past few days, and each day the anger over how comfortable I've gotten,and how little I appreciate it infuriates me more and more.
    At first I was getting angry at those around me - so cold, so indifferent to the wold around them, and then I looked at myself. What have I done? What have I accomplished?
    Forget what is behind. Walk on. Thank you for the uplifting words, although I know what heartache they stem from.

  4. always good to maintain perspective. thanks for your words.....we live in one of the safest places in the world & our primary prayers continue to be for safety. thank you for sharing your heart.