Measurements Undone

Measurements are something I really like. I like to know how far I have come, if I’m close to finishing or succeeding, if I’m making progress, or if I need to make adjustments. I love the things in life that make sense and can be quantified, measured, explained, and kept neat and tidy.  I love routines; the expectedness of knowing what’s coming and the ability to check things off of a list.  I love linear timelines, progress, conversations and projects.  It’s as close to perfection as I can imagine.  It makes sense and I can wrap my mind around it.  I know the borders and find a sense of security from being able to measure my world.

My life, however, is far from predictable, routine or measurable in neat, tidy lists of progress.  I don’t know if this is a bi-product of raising five children, or if I’m simply utterly and hopelessly imperfect in every measurable way.

Maybe it isn’t either.

In fact, I know it isn’t either.  I am simply utterly and hopelessly imperfect in every measurable way.  And, life raising five children is far from predictable, routine or linear. But, if these were the reason my life is far from what I find so safe and comfortable, I would have fixed the problem areas a long time ago!

The trouble is, I met and fell for a God who is impossible to contain, measure, predict, even to explain at times.  At every point that He has entered into my life, everything turns from predictable, neat, tidy and measurable to utterly un-linear, immeasurable, and beyond my ability to wrap my mind around. He absolutely makes no sense, and often leaves me completely undone in every area that I had so neatly tied up.

And I love Him for it.

I didn’t always welcome His presence the way I do now.  Of course, I memorized Bible verses and said my prayers.  I can speak Christianese with the best and brightest of Bible believing heart blessers.  I was, after all, raised in the church, as the daughter of a missionary pastor, no less.  But the thing about that life is that it wasn’t nearly as perfect as I passionately desired to make it appear.  For all the right words, well-timed smiles, pious prayers, heartfelt hymns sung, and God bless you’s, life  behind the scenes was a mess.  I was a fraud, and for all my wonderfully safe, containable, predictable measurements, I never could quite measure up.  I more often felt a constant ache of low-grade failure fever, than I ever felt safe or comfortable.  I was simply always running to play catch up in frantic attempts to appear neat and organized, holy and good, humble and humbly having it all together.  My life was anything but full of His presence.  On my best days it was hallow shell of happiness in having walked through a predictably routine day.  No matter what kind of day I’d have, at the end of it, I was still pulling in at FAIL, somehow.

I think God knew I would never find life appealing if I could measure it, predict or pattern it in linear sensible routines.  As much as I love them, I think it is because I never truly had them that I longed for that way of life.

From first glance, I was undone. He was nothing like I had learned about, memorized or sung of.  He wasn’t seated on a throne when I met Him.  He was right beside me.  He wasn’t untouchably holy when I encountered Him.  He invited me to dance.  He didn’t require a prophet of old, or an ordained minister, to communicate His message to me.  He simply opened His mouth and spoke directly to me.  It was almost too much for me to handle.  It destroyed every pretense and measuring instrument I knew how to use.  It upset every sensibility I possessed, and offended every religious fiber of my being.

Now, all these things we use to measure ourselves, each other and God, to make sense of this world and to more easily digest the massiveness of life on this earth, now they don’t bear as much weight or carve out as much influence in my thinking as they used to.  Now I am no good at religion or at measuring up.  Even though, and maybe especially, when I still try hard to revert.

Perhaps this is because living life in the space of an immeasurable God requires way more flexibility and creativity than I ever felt comfortable with before, and yet it is exactly in that space that I find the most comfort.   It is in the midst of flexing through chaos, and unlearning measurements that I find a wild sort of freedom, where boundaries lead to an increase of capacity and acknowledging limits means that the limitlessness of God can take over.  It is the most fearsome and dangerous jump a person can make, yet it is probably the only safe way to live.

I’m learning that the best way to measure myself and make sense of my life is at the end of the day, I have to check in with God.  Did I do okay today?  Are we ok, You and I?   Without fail His response is something that wrecks me all over again.

You did brilliantly today.  I’m especially proud of how you handled yourself when you lost your temper, you did a really good job coming back around and reconciling.  I think you were about 30 second faster this time, I’m so impressed.

You and I are more than ok.  I love you the same as I did this morning, which is the same as the day you were born.  You’re my favorite one of you that I have ever created.  I am so grateful you’re Mine. 

 

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