Confetti and Palm Branches

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Today we remember Jesus coming to Jerusalem–this seemingly awkward celebration of the King whom the Jews would reject just a few days later. It always appeared such a somber thing to me, this “triumphal entry.” As a little girl I would wave the palm branches at the church cantata, branches that were ordered from some place far more tropical than our sweet Indiana. And as I acted out the part of a joyful young Jewish girl, I thought to myself, these people were delirious. They didn’t get it. One day they are honoring Jesus and then mere days later they are yelling “Crucify Him!” Yet it seemed so exciting–the music, the live donkey, the exotic palm branches. I would lay down my giant, leafy fan and watch the pretend Jesus step on it, one step closer to the cross.

Today is also my birthday–my 29th to be precise. I always told myself I would not have a meltdown when I hit that 30 mark (and clearly, I still have a year to go), but as this child grows in my womb and life is increasingly not about me and is increasingly out of my control, panic invades my mind. “You’ll be a great mom,” so many have said, and how I appreciate those words of affirmation, for I have wanted to me a mama since I can remember. Hey, I was blessed with a really good one. But I have these fears, some rational, some not–fears of morphing into a stringy-haired mess of a woman who can’t enjoy life because she is fearful about protecting her child from every possible evil and bad thing that could ever happen.

I know that such protection is impossible, and I also know that life is not about me. But some days I just want to jump on a plane and go somewhere crazy–to be met at the airport with confetti and dance music. I want to celebrate life, life without gripping fear.

There is this thing I long for–this thing I am embarrassed to want. I am Debbie Reynolds in Singing in the Rain, Sacagawea advising Lewis and Clark, and Nancy Reagan in the weight room with Ronny. I am glamorous, strong, and I snuggle up to greatness. Hair wild and eyes clear, my face shines with purpose. I make things happen. This is what I want–this is what I want others to see in me. I want to captivate. But I often feel silly, dumb. Insecurity chafes at my spirit and squeezes my lungs. I sputter for attention–it has now become the polluted air creating the fragility that I call ‘everyday life.’ Perhaps I should settle for them thinking I am cute, because I am too nervous to be sharp, too nervous to wield my sword and run into the valleys where justice is delivered. Too nervous and too lazy.

When did this happen? When did this daydream consume? It happened when I believed the fantasy that life is about me. The most unsatisfying life is the one where all my efforts are to satisfy myself, for paradox is a dialect of God. True gain is through giving, and living is through the laying down. These truths are not new to me–not new to my mind, although they can seem new to my heart, depending.

The Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). Many times I rise to see a bowl of cereal, an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and my list of to-dos. While I will most likely read my Bible and pray, am I looking, truly looking for His mercies? Am I praising Him? Am I living out my average day in light of them?

Marching off to work, I quickly pray for God to give me wisdom and use me. I want to avoid mistakes and do something that matters, but not merely because it matters, but because it results in others liking me. And in the next heartbeat, I want to taste the luscious excitement of risk and abandon, to know there is more than just being the follower of rules. After all of this, after all of these calls around me, His still small voice. His voice that calls me to Himself.

How do I taste life to the fullest without missing out on the importance of the next one? How do I lick up every morsel of beauty and adventure without pushing aside that which matters more? How do I reconcile passion with propriety? How do I reconcile this need to throw confetti in the air, just to feel the thrill of it coming down again? The need to fall, the need to jump, to twirl dizzy while dancing.

Oh, I want to exhibit stability–for others to know me as this darling, pillar of a woman. But maybe they can see Him in my crazy dance. May they can see Him when I laugh unrestrained and enjoy this precious gift of life, this life right now. The one to come is better, and I should prepare for it with joy and anticipation. However, since Jesus is the life in me, the redeeming element to this human experience where we do, indeed, wrestle with principalities and rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12), why would I not enjoy it? I have Him. And at the end of it all, Jesus is the giver of all true enjoyment, anyway.

There are pleasures on this earth, pleasures we can enjoy with shoulders relaxed and hands cupped and open, ready for receiving. They are gifts, but we must worship the Giver. Matthew Henry says in his commentary on Ecclesiastes, “But every earthly pleasure, when unconnected with better blessings, leaves the mind as eager and unsatisfied as before.” Wild adventure and wild pleasure–may I find the purest of both, for they our found in a life centered and secured in Christ. People like Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Elliot did a lot of good, and they found pleasure in the adventure that is serving our Savior with abandon.

Being a great wife and mom doesn’t have to be boring, at least not all of the time. Christlike steadiness is not living without excitement, it is keeping our gaze on Him during it all. May our minds be satisfied and excited in our precious Lord, while we enjoy these gifts with the lightest of grasps. And may our identities be wrapped up in His faithfulness and ever-present power.

In this new life I enter, this life of increasingly laying myself down, down like a palm branch for my Savior, my husband, my child, I believe that there will be such joy in it–and maybe, just maybe, a bit of the grandest confetti. May He be glorified through every day He has chosen to give me.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann