Weaving the Tapestry of my Life

Every two years, the city center in Brussels becomes a flower carpet for a just weekend. The designers know what they are doing. In the City Museum adjacent to this, we happened upon an exhibit on Renaissance tapestry making. Those guys knew what they were doing, too. 

There are six hours a week that all of my children are being educated or cared for in a school setting this year. This is a first for me. I've been nearly delirious with relief for months.

I've enjoyed the relief. I've enjoyed resting and having the change of pace. I've enjoyed greeting the kids with a big hug as they get home.

Just relaxing and enjoying the situation is hard for me to do. I want to know the next thing. I used to sit on my dorm room bed and use the undergraduate catalog to plot out precise paths to graduation...if I take this five quarters from now, I can minor in this and be set up to get a job in March of that next year....unless I want to major in that instead. In which case, I need to take...but if I just take 23 credits instead of 16, I could do both!

Six hours isn't very many, but I feel like I ought to take advantage of them. More than that, I feel like I ought to take advantage of the hours I anticipate having in the next ten to thirty years. 

What is my life supposed to look like now that no one needs me to get them dressed? What should my time be filled with? What ought to be my first and highest priorities? What does it mean to be a Christian woman, here in America, here in my life-situation? So many people are doing so many different things. Who shall I imitate?

I am blessed with so few restraints, a supportive spouse, a solid education, financial stability. There are so many options that I sometimes feel almost paralyzed about whether or not the route I’m on is good enough. Is God going to be disappointed with what I accomplish or fail to accomplish? Will I be disappointed, even if He's not--and does it matter?

Am I meant to go out there and change the world in a meaningful way? Is it even possible, and should I want to? How would I go about it? Does it have to be at the expense of my loved ones?

Or, I wonder, perhaps I should find some way to contribute to my household’s income right now--or maybe I need to find a career for later? Should I go to graduate school because I was a good student? Should I “donate” my plasma for quick cash now, because I could? Should I be the ultimate volunteer with every organization I like, or should I just say no to most every opportunity so I can focus on mopping my floor and “creating a haven” for my family? Or am I supposed to do a little of all of these?

And what about all those things I used to think about being an older woman helping younger women? Am I about to miss the junction that was going to take me to something meaningful? My heart and my mind start spinning pretty fast these days as soon as I get going.

My last piece of writing brought me to Hebrews 13:5. I like to keep reading past the target verse to see how it fits in with the whole passage. Here's what I read:  

[Heb 13:5-8 NIV] 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." 6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Then I sometimes paraphrase what I read to myself: 
Stay free of loving money and be content with what I have, knowing that God promises to not leave or forsake me. I can say confidently, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" I can look to the good examples before me, the example of people (our leaders) who spoke the word of God to me. I can take encouragement from their presence or the memory of the outcome of their way of life (Hebrews 13:7)...

Wait. I just saw something here that I hadn’t seen before. Hebrews says that we are to remember the leaders, consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Did you catch that? We imitate their faith, not necessarily their way of life! So this means that if a person is a godly example in your life, that’s awesome—but that your life doesn’t have to look like theirs. Rather, you model your faith on their faith. I was so surprised by this that I looked it up in many different translations. Unsurprisingly, it’s still the same idea. We consider the results of their way of life, and imitate the faith. We don’t imitate the life itself. God can weave many different kinds of pictures into the tapestries of our lives, and it will have still been His good work. 

Can I rest in faith? Just because so many godly women I’ve known and respect have been homeschool moms doesn’t by itself mean that I need to homeschool my kids forever. (More on that major change in my life another time). Or just because I’m seeing other godly women working, creating, laboring, or providing for their families doesn’t mean by itself that I  shouldn’t be at home just hanging out. I’m supposed to imitate their faith. They love Jesus, and they’re trying to serve him faithfully. Let me imitate that more than imitate them.

That makes sense, right? Because Jesus is universal, but cultures aren’t. We serve God in the way he seems to have called us in our given situation. Does that mean there aren’t moral absolutes—things a believer absolutely ought to do or not do? Of course not. But it does mean that those things may be much fewer and farther between than American church culture says.
But the passage says, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He transcends circumstances, cultures, and emotions, and He’s promised to be with me. Even if I blow it. Even if I make all the wrong choices regarding all these things.

Maybe rather than trying to figure out what I should be doing, I can consider more the posture of my heart right now. I can just be for a bit--maybe I can broaden out the idea of being content with what I have and just relax in my heart. I can consider my circumstances and what a faith-filled response to it might be rather than putting pressure on myself to cook up a thirty-year plan. I can put all these worries on my open hands and offer them up to God, who has promised never to leave me or forsake me. I don't know what picture God is weaving in the tapestry of my entire life. Let me be okay with that and trust Him right now for today, tomorrow, and forever.  I can know that I have nothing to fear, and that Jesus isn’t changing. He isn’t in a hurry.


3 comments

  1. What an important distinction. I think I'm be pondering this for a while!

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  2. Wow! I hope you will keep writing. I appreciate your insight into these verses.

    ReplyDelete