Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post entitled "enough". At the end of my musings, I acknowledged that I was writing from a place of learning and not landing, necessarily. Today, I write from a place of having wrestled for an entire year through those recurring themes in my thought processes, still certainly with many things to learn of course, but also with many things that God has taught me in that time.
It is unclear to me exactly what combination of circumstances, and whether pride or humility, have driven my thinking to this place, but I began to realize a while ago that I was establishing a pattern of labeling my thoughts and feelings as insignificant. On the outside, it looks humble and good - it feels "right" in some sense, to battle the screams promoting over-indulgent self-care and telling me what I deserve. And in some ways, it's probably a fairly typical manifestation of motherhood, struggling to find in ourselves the graceful selflessness to serve the people around us constantly, letting go of our own needs and desires in order to serve the interests of our families. This is what we are called to, and I want to do it joyfully, and so in some ways, it is true... my thoughts and feelings are insignificant.
Slowly over time, though, and ironically, my insignificance became all-consuming in my life. Pride is excellent at that - it can cause anything to become all-consuming. Much discussion around personality types, I think, stems from our search for significance... our obsession with ourselves, struggling to make significance out of our insignificance, but seeking for it in ourselves, instead of in God. Weary of participating in conversations where people talk about the type of people they are, and what they need because of the type of people they are, I began to struggle to express my own needs. It would be untruthful of me to say that this was a new struggle, but in this season it has become pretty ugly. I was trying to fight against self-obsession, by declining to express my own needs, but at the same time, I still had needs (God-created-needs, to be clear, needs that He created and put within me to point me to Him). And so I've been seeking within my own strength to figure out how to get those needs met. Or, if I could not meet my own needs, I've been seeking to have them met by other people, who suffered the consequences of my pride - my children, my husband. I began asking too much of them in order to make myself feel more organized and settled, all while thinking I was asking nothing of them. The spiral is nearly impossible to express on paper, but like all sin, so ugly and tangled that my need for the Savior has become abundantly more clear through it. My unwillingness to humbly admit my needs appropriately to God and to the people around me, resulted in me placing unnecessary burden on the wrong people to help solve those needs. Relationships have suffered, which always happens when my pride drives me to sin.
A sermon this past week on II Kings 6 and I Timothy 2 brought some light and clarity to this cycle for me. II Kings 6 is the story where the borrowed axe rises miraculously to the top of the water and floats. My "insignificant" needs proved themselves significant to God as we listened to the words of pleading and provision. II Timothy 2, then, details with clarity who I am in Christ, and where my strength comes from, and what my task is to do. Straying from this clearly-dictated identity and task will always result in internal conflict and struggle. I am called to be strengthened by the grace of Jesus, entrust what I've learned to those around me, including my children, so that the Word of God can be passed on, share in suffering, fight the fight, run the race, plant and harvest, seek to be a worker approved by God and a vessel for His use. The themes of suffering and endurance, leading to eternal glory are echoed again in II Corinthians 4:16-18. My "light momentary affliction" - my needs, hurts, and struggles - are "preparing me for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal". I am to seek and serve Jesus in a way that my affliction and trial and need all drive me to seek to have those needs met in Him. My needs are not to make me resent myself, or to resent others, but to give me a greater understanding of who I am in Christ, and how much I need Him.
In Mark 11, Jesus' hunger, his need for food, drove him to seek sustenance from a fig tree, which wasn't bearing fruit. In cursing all its future potential for productivity, is it possible that Jesus is teaching me how much greater is faith in God, than any other solution I may seek to have my needs met? I'm studying idolatry right now, and idolatry results anytime we seek to have our needs met in something other than God. "Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie", Adam and Eve found themselves out of relationship with the Lord. They took what God had given, and they misused and abused His gifts, worshipping the gifts themselves, rather than the Giver. In God, all of our needs are inherently met in what He has already given... we need only to reach out and ask for how to find it. Any need that I have, becomes an idol in my life when I believe that the solution to that need is what I need, rather than the Giver of that solution. When I hunger, if I believe that food is the solution and will fill me, I've misplaced my worship and I've denied the power of God. What I truly need is the Giver of the food, who will send food to fill me. God always provides, so if I don't have what I need, I need to ask Him where to look instead, rather than growing resentful toward Him that He hasn't provided it. The Source has full control over the sustenance and how it is made available to me, and so the Source, not the sustenance, is the solution. Sometimes it is time. Sometimes it is sleep. Sometimes it is wisdom. Whatever it is, it must come from the Source first, who will make a way for my needs to be met. My hunger, my need, my humanity... is given to me to drive me back to God.
Maybe that concept is what makes this true: that "whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24). If I am humbly approaching my needs by asking God what I should need, and how I should seek provision for that need... it is certain that that prayer will be answered, because it leaves literally everything in God's hands. Acknowledging that I am not enough, insignificant, nothing... makes Him able to be everything.