Ty loves to organize. The other day I woke up to find him hard at work at the kitchen table, re-labeling his rock collection. I had to giggle, because, while I never organized rock collections, I took inventory of my Halloween candy as a child. We both get it honestly, as my mother literally had alphabetized spices. We are a neurotic line.
There is nothing wrong with a desire for order and organization, but an exaggerated need for order in our home often indicates something awry in my soul. I should have known something was going wrong in my heart when I started to digging around in the Lego bin that dwarfs Phin’s crib, searching for the tiny heads and pants and torsos of innumerable mini-figures.
I was in quite a state, and my husband could see it. He tried to get me to stop this frenetic activity, but I ignored him, insisting on charging over to Staples to laminate our summer charts and schedules, as if waiting a few hours truly might alter the earth’s orbit and send us spinning into an abyss.
This insane, compulsive activity culminated in me buying a label-maker at Staples. I have always wanted one of those to follow proudly in my mother’s footsteps, but I found myself hanging quite a lot of hope on a label-maker. When I finally got home, we were out of batteries. I may or may not have teared up.
Clearly this was not okay.
God is so very gracious and when I get into these states, as He gently exposes my heart that is acting out. I sat down to read a new book I had happened upon in a thrift store. This is what I read.
“Curiously, spiritual fatigue can produce what appears to be the opposite of sloth or acedia: hyperactivity. But in reality, it is just another dimension of the same thirst and sense of ‘why’ that saps us of our ability to the ‘what’ of ministry. ‘Hyperactivity and sloth are twin sins,’ says Neuhas, and rightly so. The only real difference is the anxious, frenetic shape hyperactivity takes. Too tired to pray, or too busy to pray: both are flip sides of the same coin. Either way we stagger through our days exhausted and aimless like people dying of thirst in the desert, or like children lost in the woods, the more lost we feel, the faster we run…Acedia, hyperactivity, hubris – all are form of forgetfulness, of losing touch with the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ of ministry, of being cut off from the Vine whose branches we are, and then keeping busy enough or noisy enough or narcotized enough to not have to face up the fundamental disjointedness of our lives.”
Ouch. That will stop a crazy lady dead in her tracks. It took my crying over a label-maker to realize that I had been on spiritual cruise control. Sure, I was having devotional time and praying, but there was little humility or heart in it. Somehow I had slipped into auto-pilot, yet again. God is never surprised by my perseverance in running on my strength, but I always am. Nothing catastrophic had happened. I had just slowly started to drift away from a deep hunger for God and His word.
I have spent the last few weeks repenting, praying Psalm 51 and asking the Lord to “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, to grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” I have asked Him to renew the why’s behind what was gradually becoming a hollow holiness of mere what’s
Outwardly, not much has changed. But inwardly, God has been doing some renovating.
And He has been filling me back up. My desire to pray is returning. The ability to be present with my children without letting my mind run to a thousand other things is returning. The desire to serve my friends and neighbors is reappearing. Contentment in the portion and cup the Lord has assigned me is mostly reigning again. All thanks to His correction and comfort.
Later, in the same book I mentioned earlier, Ben Patterson writes the following:
“The greatest thing we have to offer people is not our education. It is not our good ideas. It isn’t even our gifts and abilities. It is the fruit of the time we have spent with the Savior, the utterly unique and unparalleled thing that happens to us when we are simply in His presence.”
More than labelled toy bins or color-coded summer schedules, my children need my soul full, full of the love and peace and joy that come from being long and often in the presence of God.
“In His presence is fullness of joy, at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.” David wrote these words thousands of years ago, but my heart needs to be reminded of them today.
It’s nothing new, but it has been renewing me.