November 11, 2009

Building in Vain

Psalm 127: 1-2

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

For most of my teenage and adult years I have spent an innumerable number of hours thinking, praying and journaling in an effort to figure out the unknown elements of my life. I have always thought that if I could just make my thoughts fit together just right or compose the perfect journal entry then I would be able to tunnel my way around an unknown future and onto solid ground. The things I wonder about are endless. Will I run out of grocery money before Thanksgiving? Why do these jeans make me feel rather large? Am I destined to be single forever? Will I ever be loved and known fully, just as I am?

Recently I was challenged by a good friend to stop worrying and start living in the moment. It was a scary proposition for me. Not worry? Not plan? Embrace the unknown and just jump off the edge of the cliff? What exactly was she asking of me? I am a planner by nature. I want things in predictable and color coded rows. I want to know what's coming next so I can be prepared. Was she asking me to stop planning? To stop being responsible?

That's what I thought at first. I thought that living in the moment meant being spontaneous in that let's forget work and head to the winery kind of way. And, while I do love a nice sunny Saturday afternoon sipping Bordeaux in the hills, I'd much rather map out the day well in advance to make sure we have just enough cheese and know who is going to drive home.

Living in the moment is actually entirely different that I thought. It's fun. It's free. It's not really that scary (unless I let myself really think about it...and really, isn't that the whole point? Not too think so much). I used to do most of my thinking/planning/attempted fixing while I was driving in the car. I mean, there's not much else to do there so why not day dream? The problem was my day dreaming turned to fretting and from fretting to non-reality based planning (turns out you can't think up a plan to meet your spouse in the grocery store and will it into reality) and all that useless planning turned to panic. Now, instead of panicking I just don't let my mind go there. I stop myself when I start thinking too much or planning out scenarios that just don't need planning. I turn the music up and sing along to a fabulous mixed CD of 80's music. I read. I listen to my friends' stories. I notice that the leaves have turned orange and the air is full of that yummy autumn smell.

This is how I will spend my time now. Planning when it's reasonable to do so. Thinking about the questions that I can find answers to. It turns out I want the Lord to build my house and I'm exhausted of trying to build it on my own - especially when I'm not entirely sure what I'm building anyway. So, I'll stop building in vain and making a mess of things and focus on living life and enjoying God. Thankfully, the Lord is faithful. He builds my house. He watches over my city. He gives me rest.

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