Here and There

Farewell January.  I have come to the realization that all along I mis-categorize the month that begins every year.  There are great expectations and high hopes and now in almost my thirty seventh year I feel as though January is for resting.  Restoring.  Taking a few deep breaths and if necessary catching up on everything from sleep to reading to cleaning and family time.  Sure, the Christmas season is filled with family but this year for us the season was full of busy.  Concerts and chores, traditions to be kept, traveling and performing.  So January has become the month to catch our breath.  Now of course there was the annual dreaming and goal setting and reflecting.  Only this time it was slower and the month consumed me.  But in a good way.  Are you feeling me? Well I felt January and it did not let me down.

Here we are facing February and it's claim to the coldest, harshest, worst winter month.  That's it's rap and I won't dispute the reputation.   For one, I am writing this post at my desk that faces two windows and the snow is flying.  Literally.  Sideways.  It started this morning noisy, icy shards knocking on the windows and now there is a quietness to it all.  I'm sure there is a life metaphor in there somewhere.  February is off to a lovely start though.  The weather aside, my baby girl celebrated her eighteenth year.  Valentine's day is just around the corner.  Followed by my birthday and then just like that the month is over.  And we are that much closer to Spring.  And all the Minnesotans said Amen. 

I was planning on a list of a post but I've since decided to save that for my birthday post.  Writing in numbered succession all that I have learned the past year is eye opening for me.  And  often as I am mid sentence the lesson learned will take shape without me even being privy to the aha moment.  Go figure.  Which now has caused me to reflect on a topic in the midst of studying, learning, meditating on and journaling about.  The current sermon series at our church is themed around the tongue being a weapon for both good and evil.  (my own words)  Our first week back, (after Christmas break), I walked away with thinking of my tongue as a fire starting tool, exciting pyromania whenever I opened my mouth.  A negative connotation at the very least.  One of my favorite Bible passages is a verse in which our words are compared to honey.  As there is also scripture in which the tongue is compared to a sword.  Truth lies in both perceptions.  The tongue is a tool that can be implemented for both the sweet and the unsavory, depending on the motivation with which one wields the weapon.

All this to say I've been contemplating, digging deeper.  Then this last week was titled "grumbling and complaining".  Ahem.  My gut was telling me to duck and run.  Husband Jared held my hand and I stayed, thankfully.    Here's where the risk surfaces.  I didn't consider myself a complainer much.  Not that I never thought I complained, because I did, I mean I do.  The whole act seems engrained in our human nature dating all the way back to the Israelites.  And we know what happened to all but two of them.  No Promised Land.  They were given milk and honey, manna, water, quail and yet they wandered in the wilderness for forty years unable to see the forest through the trees.  Pardon the pun.  I know the story.  God would give them what they asked for and not two minutes later they would be grumbling and asking for more.  For different.  For this or that.  Some voiced their complaints audibly, maybe others in their hearts.  I learned Sunday that the Greek definition of the word "disputing" as stated in Philippians 2:14, means to complain in your mind and heart.  Ouch. 

Here's where I'm at with  this.  I voice my complaints, my disdain, what have you but there is plenty that never leaves my mind or heart.  The intellectual "moaning and groaning"  that I have seemed to think doesn't matter or count as sinful.  I won't compare myself to the Israelites but really I am no different.  Right?  The biggest obstacle I see here brings me to the risk.  While I know that complaining, grumbling whether to others or myself, is sin, I tend to believe that we need to air those icky thoughts as well.  I mean along with the good and positive.  Maybe it's in the reworking, how we present them, the heart behind those words and the audience with which we are dealing with.  Bring them before the Lord first and foremost?   Our closest circle of people?  A spouse?  A blank page?  I suppose too that the grumbling and complaining differs from authenticity.

 Work with me here.  I am a flawed human trying to flesh this out, a masterpiece in progress.  When asked if everything is alright or how I'm doing I am prone to the "all is well" response.  Rote if you will, but simple, to the point and devoid of the opportunity for questions or inquiries.  But there is nothing real about that knee jerk reaction.  I don't need to hide behind falsities but I also must beware of lacking joy in all circumstances.  Not the pretty pink puffy happy emotion but the guttural joy that comes from knowing that the Lord is in charge.  I may be left here on earth to be working like it depends on me but I must remember to pray like it depends on Him.  Thank you Mark Batterson for that nugget of wisdom.  Applicable to my disputing heart and the besetting sin that lies within.  In order to risk being genuine with all areas of my life I must be willing to be human.  To accept grace.  To voice the fear that hides underneath the intellectual moaning and groaning battling for space in my heart and mind.  Am I making any sense here?  Most likely not.  And that's ok.  My journal is scribbled with these mixed up thoughts. 

So I sat through a few sermons regarding our tongue.  The way it could be used for wrong doing.  In addition to hearing all the good it can accomplish.  I felt convicted about griping whether done publicly or privately.  I also feel convicted about authentic living.  Sharing my story, and baring my true self.  Is there a discrepancy here?  I think not.  Complaining and grumbling is much different than sharing emotions, feelings, circumstances.  Much different than entering into life with others.  There is a manner, a method, if you will, that a poet frames his words.  Maybe we, I mean I, should aim to be more poet than griper.  Weaving my heart through carefully chosen words.  Not ones that masque my true self or given circumstances in which I find myself.  But words that reflect my soul.  The joy that lies within and the desire to leave behind the grumbling, disputing and complaining in order to be the honey in place of the fire starter.  

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