I have had this particular blog post in my mind for a while. I am constantly thinking, constantly looking, constantly trying my best to be open to what the Holy Spirit may be saying in my day-to-day. I am looking for treasures…of the heavenly kind.
I write a lot about “momming,” as I am in that phase of life where the opportunity to learn from my children is at one of its peaks. It is also where I spend a large percentage of my time and energy. I am so grateful for the gift of my three children and do my best to be present in this time.
I also have felt called to write more about marriage. I continually see the breakdown of families in our society and have been burdened by this trend. I have spent a lot of time investing in my own marriage, recognizing the great discipline it takes to be present in this crucial relationship as well.
Sometimes, that means that I may not engage in larger discussions about situations that are out of my immediate control. It is not because I do not care or do not appreciate the broader picture of life on this earth and the value of all of God’s people. The events in Charlottesville and even in my hometown of Durham have not been off my radar or out of my prayers. My heart aches for the troubling messages, hateful displays of humanity and apparent divide of brothers and sisters of different race. My silence in a social media forum is not at all reflective of the private conversations I hold in my home, my neighborhood and in my community.
In attempt to live out a “less is more” posture in my life, one area I have chosen to back away from is social media. I have found it to be a place where so many of us are judged for what we do or don’t post, how many likes/loves/shares we generate, and even which “emotion or reaction” we assign to other’s posts. Social media has really affected relationships and I believe has perpetuated some of the divide we are experiencing in our country and world.
Instead of posting as much on social media (this is a hard challenge for me as I am an extrovert who loves engaging with people and I am a writer who has been told that social media is a necessity), I have recently spent a lot of time sorting through a number of piles in my home. These piles had been accumulating for two years – on my dining room table, my beautiful cedar chest in my bedroom, the desk in the kitchen – to name a few. These piles of papers, projects, keepsakes, cards, even trash (and a few rocks??) – have all been a collection of things that I just could not deal with as they came barreling into my home at record pace from my three different little artists/writers/junk collectors. Why two years? I mean, I have had this type of pile producing potential for at least 8 years, when my first child started daycare and the adorable, hard to part with, hand print art began.
The past two years have been hard for me. I have seen my life begin to change, to shift, as I have had a choice of embracing or rejecting the fact that I am reaching what “they” call middle age (not sure who “they” are…but “they” are all over social media targeting every near 40 something with wrinkle reducing eye cream, tummy slimming swim suits, the latest and greatest hair color for that gray, baseball mom hats and the like). This shift has caused my a lot of deep soul-searching and honestly, confusion over what it is that I believe and who it is that I am. I have had the same collection of piles cluttering my mind and they have held me captive, even paralyzed me at times.
As I started cleaning those physical piles in my home, I recognized a freeing feeling, a letting go, as this therapeutic outward action was resulting in an internal peace…the piles in my mind were also clearing.
As I recognized this parallel, I began to crave the physical act of sorting through these piles. As I sorted the art keepers from the trash, placed missing pieces of puzzles back with their puzzle families, placed the rocks back outdoors (???why do kids collect rocks???), I also found some surprises…some treasures. Sweet love notes from my husband and children, pictures of my best friends and I with real genuine smiles amidst the hard of these past two years, race bibs from my half marathons – each with their own precious story and each in these past two years, my book proposal (when in the world did I find time to do that??), several dollars and so many more.
The treasures found in my mind were of much greater significance. As I stripped away hurts from my past, I slowly, but surely chiseled away the millstone that had been around my neck and felt sweet release. I felt encouraged, empowered and strengthened to keep pursuing that which was bringing my heart such peace and perspective.
The treasures had names. Daughter of the King. Wife of Stan. Mother of Landon, Connor and Lindsay Jane. Daughter, sister, friend, nurse practitioner, leader, writer, runner. Good. Loved. Chosen. Not afraid. Free.
I knew all of these to be true, but I had forgotten. I had let the piles overtake my truths. I had let too much into my heart and mind that was cluttering. There is so much around us to disturb us, to bring us down into the depths of despair, to cause us to miss out on the treasures… The truth is that we are all sinners, all in great need of a rescue from ourselves. We all have a millstone around our necks without the saving grace of Jesus.
In reading the first three chapters of the book of Matthew this morning, I was reminded of the treasures the Magi brought to Jesus. What was striking to me about this age-old story was the very idea that the Magi brought gifts to Jesus…they did not go asking what this Messiah was going to do for them. This spoke to me about my own treasure offerings to Jesus. What a beautiful shift of position for me.
In Matthew 6: 19-21, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
First, I have to continually find my treasures to be able to offer them to Jesus. I have to seek them out every single day. It is not as if the physical piles of my home will not attempt to overtake my counter and cedar chest surfaces again as the new school year begins. It is not as if the piles in my mind will not begin the compartmentalizing-shut-that-door mentality again as messages, comments, words come at me at true break neck speed, demanding an answer NOW – and I am tempted to hide under the covers of junk uncertain of just exactly where that treasure lies.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I have loved these words for years. I have recognized the relationship between my physical treasure-seeking to that of the emotional one of my mind. Now, to take it a step further, into the spiritual realm, into my heart, for those treasures are the ones my Jesus wants. Love, patience, self-control, kindness, goodness, peace…these treasures, amidst our messy world are the ones I want to present to my King and to all created in His image.