I was up much of the night on Saturday night.
Partly thanks to the cutest 6 1/2 month old on the planet and his little bear growlings.
But largely thanks to my own brain. The brain that would.not.quit.
It had been a long day. A day that left me at a crossroads and unsure how to navigate it. I feel like much is expected of me, but there is little left to give. Primarily, I feel like my heart will EXPLODE if my intententios are misunderstood one more time. I try to communicate love and grace. And yet it comes out as self-righteousness. I strive to offer answers and it comes across like I have them all.
And the thing is, it is not entirely "their" fault.
I've been responding.
And that's what I lay awake praying about.
I've spent my life responding.
Responding to others' expectations.
Responding to others' time constraints.
Responding to others' words.
Responding to others' behaviors.
Responding to others' choices.
The response itself isn't always negative. It makes sense to respond to compliments with pride, it makes sense to respond to high expecations by thriving, it makes sense to respond to inspiring life choices by living differently.
But what about how I respond to words that are meant to hurt me, how I respond to behaviors that might hurt my husband or children, to choices that are destroying families. My strong responses to these attacks is likely justified, but that isn't enough for me. I want to correct it, make it right, undo the hurt, respond to the words in a way that brings clarification. And many times, my response just isn't enough to do any of that. I was deep in prayer and thought about how I could respond differently, how I could speak diffierently, how I could communicate the love and grace that were keeping me awake.
And driving to church Sunday morning, amidst a van full of children, I thought.
"Don't respond to people. Respond to their needs."
Honestly, at the time, those two things didn't seem that much different to me. In the moment I was thinking "that's some clever semantics there, ABL".
So I continued through the day. Half listening to class (sorry Rick), half listening to the sermon (sorry, other Rick), half heartedly participiating in lunch with my family and guests. My heart was aching to respond differently to those I encountered, especially those that would rather not encounter me at all.
And again a tug.
Don't respond to people. Respond to their needs.
Thank you inner-voice-that-won't-shut-up. Honestly, if I respond to one more person's NEEDS, I think I might come crumbling down. Ask me to write a check. Ask me to go on a short term mission trip. Ask me to teach a class or deliver a meal. Great. But don't ask me to invest in anyone else or to try to meet their needs today. they don't want what I have left to give. I.AM.TAPPED.OUT.
And then I went driving. Sunday afternoon, I had a long road in front of me. Both the miles and the difficult destination were looming in front of me. My passengers fell asleep, it was quiet, and still my brain would not stop. Suddenly, I looked out at the horizon (which is a strage thing to say considering I was driving straight into it). It was gorgeous. The sun beams literally bounced from cloud to cloud, reflecting from the center sphere of the sun and then darting down and out. The clouds nearly acted like prisms. It was gorgeous, different than anything I've seen before. The power was from the sun, but the beauty came from the clouds reflecting the light..
And as a result I often find myself reflecting their anger, their frustration. I find myself responding to their choices and behaviors in a way that reflects who they are, not who I want to be. Its true with my children, its true with my husband, its true with just about anyone I encounter. Its especially true when my heart is so tied to wanting more for them.
Quit responding to people and respond to their needs.
Ask ME what their needs are. Respond to ME as I show you their needs.