Today would have been Day 4 of my 40 day fast from social media, if I’d stuck with the grand plan, the idea to step up my game while freeing my mind and being able to say “Oh, I’m fasting from Facebook.”
Which I imagined would have been followed by, “Oh, wows” and wonder why’s and possibly edge of the seat waiting to hear how I’d come to this decision.
And I’d anticipated how some great and flowery after the fast enlightenment would result from 40 days without following and even more anticipated how people would be waiting to hear and consider a fast themselves.
Lord, have mercy.
Oh, my goodness…”too much Lisa!”
Yeah, I did that, recognized it, thank you Lord, and then shifted my focus to how I might navigate the days and how they might make more narrow my wide and distracted path.
I’d not be seeing all the people selling all sorts of things to better me, convincing me to try something amazing.
I’d not be bogged down by information overload about the glasses I need to look at the sun and oh, I better make plans, everybody’s doing something somewhere.
I’d not feel different from most in that I’m not anticipating the eclipse; but, am more quietly considering spending the couple of moments in a quiet place at home.
I’d have been able to avoid the commentaries, people taking sides, analyzing, criticizing, sneering and opportunists seeking a place to expound their opinions.
But, I’d have missed out on the good words and goodness of people asking for goodness from others and for that I’d have been sorry.
Because I did that,
Said, “I’m sorry about Charlottesville.”
Acknowledged I could never fully understand and we embraced, both of us nodding, holding our hands up to heaven.
I believe she believes me because we’ve left it at that.
I digress, though.
Last week, I was captivated by the idea. I announced that I’d be fasting soon, had calculated the days and I’d abstain from social media and two other distractions that I’d decided were dulling my sense of God.
And I was right, five days later…I am able to do without those things, discipline and moderation are refreshing, almost
But, social media, I’ve decided not to abandon or restrain.
The reason? Wise words from women. One, my daughter, one, my cousin and the others, two sisters. One said, “Oh, that’s trendy, everybody does that!” The other, surprised me. She paused, leaned back in her cushy armchair and said…”You need to pray about this, I’ve been reading your words every morning…you’ll have to figure this out.” So, I replied that I’d just limit myself, maybe just post my thoughts about faith and God and things I’m being shown in the mornings, nothing else all day, leave it alone.
She again said, “You are going to need to pray about this, I just don’t know.”
“Okay, I will.” I said, confused and two days later sat in my morning spot and as clarity does, it came slowly, rested with me there a bit, making sure I gathered up its message.
The thing is, I opened my Bible to the Book of Luke. The first day, I refreshed my memory of Luke and his take on the life of Jesus. I read the first chapter. I noticed the tone, a more gentle approach, the opening lines more of a beckon to read than a command.
“It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you…” Luke 1:3 ESV
So, I continued to read and revisited again the two sisters, Martha and Mary.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 ESV
I read of Martha’s frustration and her pointing out her efforts, her preparation and her lack of help to Jesus.
I’ve been searching; but, can’t find an answer. Did they know that Jesus was coming and bringing along the disciples?
How much time did she have to get the house ready, maybe cook a meal?
The last time I had company coming, a first time ever I’m excited to have person, I took a day off from work. There were linens to wash, little flowers to put in tiny vases, carpets vacuumed, dusting done, options for meals and pillows fluffed.
Making the best of what I had to welcome someone. I was worried we might not have a home good enough to impress her, to hopefully have her return.
I had the whole house to myself, me and the dogs, I was a flurry of stress and striving, driven to perfection, to making an impression.
I believe Martha was feeling this way.
I imagine she lost her sense of composure, her efforts trying to impress this visitor everyone had been talking about and she demanded to know why she didn’t matter…why is it that you’ve not noticed me? I imagine her, hands on her hips, her sister oblivious.
She was a mixture of keeping tabs and keeping up. Everyone a measurement of her value, every effort an opportunity to be satisfied with self, a contrast in diligent servant and frustrated martyr. She was disappointed, but oh so very determined in her display.
She wanted to be enough.
And while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening, Martha made sure He knew, to be certain He noticed all she’d been doing.
So, I abandoned the grand plan of the 40 days without Facebook.
We’d talked about the giving up of things, my cousin and I, of striving in our focus, of being more disciplined, of denial of any and all in hopes we might be a little better.
I listened as she explained what she believes and is learning.
We punish ourselves hoping finally, deprivation will lead to acceptance, to acceptance of the love of Jesus.
Her words I stored up. I can’t remember exactly; oh, I wish I could, because it took root, the truth grew and changed my mind, her words, my thoughts of them.
What I do to make up for before does nothing more than validate my shame, my guilt, my doubt.
My efforts only keep me where I believe I must stay, never stronger, only shrinking back to the place I feel most comfortable and guilty.
Grace is not punitive, doesn’t sit waiting for a show, never demands evidence of its due.
Grace, the grace of Jesus just shows up and stays, hopes we will rest a while in its presence.
Mercy, the mercy of Jesus reminds us to choose the better and gives us time to see it as better.
Love, the love of Jesus accepts our anxious ways, beckons us to linger, cares little about perfection and looks beyond our imperfections, and notices even less our idea of perfection so that it can show us the way.
The one who told me to pray called today. I told her, “Oh, I’m not doing the fast. I was looking for affirmation, attention, I was hoping to be a bright and shiny blogger girl who could boast of her accomplishment. I was hoping to be good enough not to go unnoticed.”
To which she replied, languishing in wise southern cousin Peacock way…”Good, good, Oh, that’s good, oh…”
Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at Tell His Story…read about a beautiful mission here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/
7 thoughts on “Have Mercy”
I considered writing more about Charlottesville and the hatred that was demonstrated.
I had and have many thoughts on the subject. However, I decided I cannot write on something I do not fully understand. I considered writing about the way I was raised by an alcoholic who upon returning from the Korean War was informed that his father had been murdered by a black man. I considered writing of this void in my life, being without a grandmother and a grandfather, because less than month after my grandfather was murdered, my grandmother died.
I considered writing about what my mother and father taught us…there are good black people and bad black people, good white and bad white people and the fact that in my father’s final months before succumbing
to lung cancer, his best friend was a kind and gentle black man who made sure he made it home safely at night when he’d had too much to drink.
I considered sharing this as a way to speak on demonstrating love to all; but, was concerned it would be seen as on the defensive. I simply choose to love all who God places on my path and to love them without judgement as my parents demonstrated by their lives and their deaths.
Mostly though, I’m attentive to the Holy Spirit and I do my best to write authentically about the things God makes clearer over time and to give glory to Him for the grace that has brought me this far.
I am so sorry about my earlier comment this morning. I did not carefully read the whole thing and I was very much out of line. Here I am talking about love and not showing love myself. Please accept my apology.
Apology accepted. I hope you’re well.
I love your thoughts on mercy. grace. and love. – all sides of the same orb of God. When I don’t sit in that full orb, I don’t offer the same to another. Blessings on us both as we marry the Mary and the Martha, for everyone’s sake, mostly His.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oh I love this. Lisa you write so deeply, heart on the line. Wow.
LikeLiked by 1 person
No way you could know how much I love you for this.