attached arms…

arms

I’ve had a trash truck on my mind for days. Sounds strange, I know. I was sitting in the drive-thru waiting to get my London Fog, when across the alley roared the ruckus.

I observed (because what else does one do when sitting in the drive thru) as it approached with forklift-ish disconnected arms. The operator tried to make contact with the small slots in the side of the dumpster, but he missed. He backed up and approached again, and missed. At this point I began to laugh. He backed up again, and yep, missed again. And then finally the mechanical arms made contact with the slots, the truck precariously lifted waste into it’s bin, and then returned the dumpster to the ground.

So why has this odd yet ordinary occurrence rummaged in my mind for days? I guess it’s a God thing, because I normally don’t contemplate garbage trucks. But I just couldn’t escape this thought…

loving with disconnected arms…

Perhaps it was the sweet children I visited with the day before who were deeply grieving a loss I could never understand. Children seeking unconditional love from a system that cannot provide.

Maybe it’s the way I see myself loving others. Always reaching towards this or that. Wanting to provide even the tiniest bit of relief so those I care for can breath just a little bit easier. But like the truck…I approach a burdensome load, and more often than I would like to admit, I miss.

Maybe it’s the way I feel loved. People caring for me. Loving me with all they have. Loving me as unconditionally as is possible for a human to love. Yet there’s always a small sense of detachment.

And when I step back and think about it, we all love with less than adequate/accurate arms.

We are like the awkward garbage truck, seeking to make contact. Trying to fit our arms into the small windows of opportunity where we could actually connect with the fullness of a heart. Yet we miss…again and again. Our approach is often sloppy and even if we do make contact we rarely have stamina to sustain the lift. Not for lack of effort, but simply because we only have so much horsepower to give.

But Jesus is different. He connects each and every time.

In the places we feel hopelessly alone, He has already noticed. He doesn’t miss a thing. His arms are not cold and mechanical. They aren’t operated by anything less than perfection. His embrace is warm and loving. Directly connected. Ever present. All sustaining.

If we do anything for others, anything at all, perhaps our biggest job is to stop trying to approach and empty their garbage. Instead we could lead them to the one who says I am okay with your garbage just as it is. The one who says you and your baggage are well with me, and when you feel safe enough, we will pick it up together and let it go. With real arms. Whole arms. Attached to an unconditionally loving heart.

 

“There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:26-27a

when we worry and really, desperately, want to protect our kids…

pray

Today in my Jesus Calling there was a phrase.

Don’t try to make today fit into yesterday’s mold.

And it’s not that I am in love with yesterday. It’s more that I teeter on the edge of fear for tomorrow. How will this all unfold? What if the worst that could happen did? How would I function and cope then? And I need not borrow trouble, or worry about tomorrow when today has it’s own worries…and blah blah blah…but this girl does worry, especially when it comes to her kids. She just does.

So if I worry…and I know I cannot worry my children into a corrected pattern of behavior…what do I do then?

I have to ask myself how it functions. Because if it isn’t functional, and most especially if it creates dysfunction, I must choose to hang onto it or do something different.

Again, I’ve tried to squash the worry, and I can’t. As I lean over my son in the early hours of the morning, his 13 year old frame looks so tiny in his bed. I want him to stay there. Where I know he is safe, and warm, and protected. Tears pour down because I know there are things, and will be even more, I cannot fix for him. All the worrying in the world will not keep him sheltered and nestled in a protective bubble.

And these moments are not bad. They are real and raw and breathy. I wouldn’t trade the desire to protect him for a moment of apathy. But it’s what I do with the worry that matters.

Prayer and petition.

I have to move myself from frantic and panic to prayer and petition.

Sometimes I don’t pray because I wonder if it makes a difference. I know God will hear me, I just don’t know if He will do anything about it. It seems more comfortable to not ask, than to ask and deal with the rejection I feel when prayers appear seemingly “unanswered”.

And the logical part of me knows it’s not about rejection. His plans are greater, deeper, and wider and His perspective is so much bigger and better than my own. But it feels like rejection and hurt and disappointment. And a failure to protect. When I ask for different/better things for my children, I desperately want Him to protect them.

At the core, I just want today to fit into yesterday’s mold.

Yesterday they were safe. Yesterday I was able to shield them. Yesterday I could block the technology that scares me, tell them they can’t go here or there, ensure that sources of temptation are not accessible, get them resources, and continuous support. But that won’t always be the case. It just won’t. And this is where I have to pray and trust.

That God’s good is always way more than good enough. That His protection is perfect, even when I think it looks less than adequate. That His plans really are great and that my fears of “unanswered” prayers will not move me to a place of refusing to pray at all.

Because He is good. He knows. He never changes. He never fails. Not me. Not His children.