December days advancing onward, a month of contrasts. How different is the blast of heat from the wood stove from the icy blast of driven snowflakes swirling down daily. How dark the nights but how bright the many lights of the season are. How long the lists are for mothers but how short and fleeting are the quiet moments of togetherness when our families are under one roof.
My heart has cowered at the thought of writing the deep things in my mind but I haven't really understood why. I still don't understand why I hesitate to share the deepest truths or struggles I have here but I've been challenging myself and considering how to open my heart again a little wider.
This is our sixth Christmas on the Rez. I don't know how it seems to people who have known me a long time, but I feel like I am a deeply different person since moving here those five years ago. There is a layer worn down, rubbed a little raw, within me, and my confidence in myself has been largely deconstructed. I can't say I regret either of those things, because I think the pieces that have been worn down have been rough edges that I didn't acknowledge before, and I think my self-confidence is being slowly replaced by a deeper confidence in Jesus. None of these are things I have brought to pass and at times I have felt grief at the loss of who I think I used to be. Yet how can I grieve too hard when my identity is hopefully instead more rooted in the perfect person and love of Jesus Christ than it was before? Have you have heard the phrase "mature Christian" all your life too? I am more and more convinced that such a thing refers to loss of self-reliance and filling by the Spirit - and maybe a realization of your own total immaturity and helplessness. I think this has continued in my life because of the calling I have had to the Kingdom work on the Reservation but I think our great and gracious Lord does this same work in lives in other ways too.
I am timid in a lot of ways when it comes to writing about my life on the Rez. My life revolves mainly around my three little girls and my husband and the normal daily needs they bring before me. I am not daily driving to houses to pick kids up for ministry events or meeting other community needs. I am not a visible leader of any one ministry aspect. I feel like my knowledge of issues and needs in Native American ministry is still very small. I suppose in some ways right now I am shielded but it doesn't feel like that to me because I engage emotionally in everything I see and hear and know. My heart carries so very much around. Maybe young Mary full of grace, felt the same as she observed and treasured things up and pondered them in her heart. Not everyone is willing or able to enter into these griefs and joys and sorrows and happinesses. So I become timid and unsure of myself.
But - I really love when I read the words of someone who has or is walking through life in ministry in a broken community. I really love as I read the writings of Moses in the Old Testament right now to see a glimpse of his sorrow, frustration, burdens for the people, and great love for God's children. Because of God's grace, Moses got to see and be part of such mighty wonders wrought by God's own hand.
I have been so humbled and awed at the way He has worked in my own life this year. A year ago we were just beginning to discuss God's apparent prompting to try to sell our house. I was so resistant, so fearful of the unknown and even though I wasn't thrilled at the idea of staying in the home we had then and I really wanted to trust that He has good things (even for me!), I was really struggling to release the comfort of the Known. I also worried that others would think we were crazy or asking too much; shouldn't we just be content with His many blessings? But the Lord knew my fears and my needs and our needs, and continually brought before me passages and songs about Sarah following Abraham into the unknown. I knew without a doubt that He was calling me to faithfully support and follow Jesse - not blindly or with no opinions- but with wisdom and peace and prayer and a willingness to trust Him and His leading in our lives. This has not been an easy road, my friends. It is not natural for me to trust Jesse and let him lead. My heart inclined toward self-reliance, toward thinking I know the best ways and I have had to repeatedly lay down my selfish attempts to control situations and trust and wait. I have done this so imperfectly and failed more times than I can count. I am sure I haven't repented nearly as often as I need to during this process this year. Through it all, He has carried me back to Sarah and Abraham. How did Sarah seek to control and take matters into her hands? How did she feel at promises that felt empty at the time? Yet she followed and followed and was counted blessed.
I am also counting myself so blessed. I haven't been faithful yet He has been faithful me. He has provided everything I have needed every single day. He has provided a temporary place to live that is warm and cozy (even if it is a bit small) and then brought us to buying a home that is beyond what I felt I could have asked or expected. A home that has a legacy of joy and love for many many years past. A home we can use for dreams and callings we have been waiting on for several years. We are waiting still for the finality of buying it, but we are so amazed and encouraged by His specific provisions. I tried to cling to the fact all along that He cares about me. He made me a certain way and gave me certain dreams and in all my failing, He has proven time and again that it is true - He cares tenderly and specifically for me.
I stumbled on this prayer I wrote almost four years ago and was struck by how He has answered this prayer in so many way. I was struck also by the need to pray it again.
---Oh, Lord, let me be spent today, poured out to bring Your light and life to my family and all those around me. Let me make this prayer without qualifiers; without the reservation that I will do it as long as it's not too hard or tiring. In those times when I can hardly keep my eyes open or feel frustration fast-approaching, give me courage and strength to be emptied so I can be filled. Remind me that I longed to be emptied of myself and filled with more of You. Remind me that Your grace is sufficient for the work You have called me to today and the work that You have prepared for my tomorrow and my next day and all my next days. One foot in front of the other, I trust You with this day and ask that You would "bind my wand'ring heart to Thee."
And then, when I forget, remind me that I asked for this.---