Dear Hand, I have no need of you…

Said no one ever! As an introvert, a lot of things make me uncomfortable. I err on the side of silence and caution and comfort, instead of transparency and risk and reaching out.

Have you heard the quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”? How do you make yourself do something that you know will be hard or scary or uncomfortable?

I read this recently: “Why don’t we [introverts] make ourselves known better, so people don’t mistake and overlook us? It’s easy to grumble about not being known. It’s harder to make an effort, to do some action that lets people know you are there and have something to contribute.”

And it was challenging. It’s not wrong to be an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I automatically earn a get of out jail free card, either. I am part of a body. And a body functions best with all of its parts actively working. The body depends on each part, and isn’t it easier to work together when you know the strengths and weaknesses of each part?

Though I feel like a fish out of water at times, the truth is, we all are in desperate need of community. Somehow, though Jesus is ultimately all we need, God also made us to need each other. So if we need community, then that community also needs us. Each of us. Deep down, we all have a desire to be known, no matter how much we may want to hide. It is good to remember that we are all different, and there are specific ways we can love and serve each other well. The body is truly made up of different parts, beautiful parts. It can be a challenge to know who you are, know how you are gifted, know that there is always room for growth, and then not compare yourself to the other parts.

Sometimes I like to say that in the body of Christ, I am a tonsil or an appendix or something. God created them, so they serve a purpose, but when it comes down to it, the body can function perfectly well without them. This is not biblical, but it’s how I feel sometimes. But, according to 1 Corinthians, even those weaker parts are indispensable. Even the hidden parts are important.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:21-26)

This is the beauty of community, and I want to make sure I am loving others well, considering them first, and that I am open to being known and embracing the uncomfortable, ultimately, so that Christ will be known. I want whatever part I have to function well. I want to have the same care for one another, but know that it might look different for each of us. I want to suffer together, and rejoice together, and not worry that the eye suffers differently than the hand, and the head rejoices differently than the feet. I want this because we will be known by our love for each other (John 13:35).

We are one body, and we desperately need each other.

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To Those Weeping and To Those Rejoicing, on Mother’s Day

Holidays are usually a cause for celebration, but often they are also reminders of painful things. While I don’t want to overlook the joys of Mother’s Day and forget to thank God for mothers everywhere, including my own, I must say days like this also remind us of suffering, or of what we’ve lost, or what we’ve never had.

I am sad that I am not a mom and may never be. You might be too, or you might feel a deep sense of loss or isolation for other reasons. Or you might be rejoicing today! We are commanded to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15) Let’s be mindful of each other!

Honestly, I just want you to know that you are loved. Not just by me, but by the God of the universe who knit you together in your mother’s womb, and who knows you more intimately than you could comprehend. You are not defined by your singleness, or by your infertility, or by your imperfect mothering. You are a child of God. He knows both your joy and your pain. So, whether you are rejoicing or whether you are weeping, or maybe more likely some juxtaposition of the two, I just want to say that I am too, and though it may seem trite, Jesus is enough for us. He really is enough.

To all the women who want to be mothers and are not,
To all the stepmoms and foster moms who don’t feel like “real” moms,
To all the single mothers who wish things were different,
To those who are grieving the loss of a mother or the loss of a child,
To those with strained relationships with their mothers or their children,
You are loved, and you are not alone.
I am weeping with you.

To new mothers welcoming their little ones,
To mothers who work tirelessly and sacrificially without much thanks,
To mothers who never stop loving their kids no matter what,
To those who don’t have children but are amazing mothers to so many,
You are loved, and you are appreciated.
I am rejoicing with you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

You-Are-Loved

Grace Like Manna

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace recently. There are a lot of commands and reminders in scripture that we are to live for today. We should take heed – we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Do not worry about tomorrow. (Matt 6:34)
You do not know what tomorrow will bring. (James 4:14; Prov 27:1)
His mercies are new every morning. (Lam 3:22-23)
Our treasure is in heaven, not on this earth. (Luke 12:20-21)

Though I know we are refined by the fire for God’s glory (Isaiah 48:10-11), I still often wonder how some people walk through so much heartache and suffering and don’t just survive but are actually made stronger. I can’t help but think if it were me, I might just give up. The orphan living in poverty, the single mother with 5 kids, the husband who just lost his wife and only son in a car accident, the woman struggling with chronic daily pain. How do they do it? By God’s grace.

Yes, but what does that mean? Why does it seem that I would never be able to handle those things? I am often reminded that grace is given for today. God tells us tomorrow will have enough troubles and not to worry about that, but that he will give us the strength we need for today. The same is true for our friends going through trials. It is like the manna in the wilderness. God provided just enough for each day, and if the Israelites tried to store it up for later, it would rot.

But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. Exodus 16:18-21

But I am also reminded that grace is particular. If you, like me, put yourself in the shoes of your neighbor or friend, you do wonder. You say, I could never handle that! How does she do it? His faith must be stronger than mine! But their faith is God-given, just like grace. We can learn much by watching our friends’ faith in action. We receive enough grace to help carry their burdens, to comfort, to encourage, to walk beside them. And they receive as much as they need, particular to their situation, to persevere through their greatest trials. And it doesn’t look the same. We do not receive their grace.

The Israelites, or their fathers, did not even know what manna was. As far as we know, God had never provided manna in that way before and he has not since. It was God’s particular grace for the trials he had them endure in the wilderness.

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3

So just as we only receive grace for today, we only receive grace for our specific trials. We trust that God will take care of all his children’s needs, even when we can’t comprehend how he is working, or how this could possibly work out for good, or how we would handle the same situation. We are commanded not to worry. He will supply. He will be faithful. He is enough. Both for today, and for all our tomorrows.

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