Today at my Bible study we had the dreaded "life lessons" class. It's the pause in our study where we stop and share what we've learned. The book we're doing is called 5 Aspects of Women. The first aspect we are studied is called "mistress of the domain."
There are 3 parts of "mistress of the domain," created, fallen, redeemed. and we spent one week on each part. and now today, after all three parts, we had to share in a "creative" way what we had learned. so in true Andrea form, I waited til last night to write down a few chicken scratches on the back of a random piece of paper. and today I shared my thoughts.
(prepare yourselves, this will be a long one...)
I'm not going to go into all the details, because you should really just read the book, but during that first part of learning about how we were created, I felt really....confused. I guess that's a way to describe it. we talked about how we were to "rule and subdue" and how we were created in God's image. some of it made perfect sense, and some of it really made me get down on myself. (do you know what subdue means? it means: to bring under control by conquest and to keep under control by diligent maintenance. yowza....that one of God's primary commands for us.)
Most of you would call me a "creative" person, or maybe "artistic." But what it looks like in real life is that my whole world is in a mild state of chaos. My brain is unorganized, my house is unorganized, I'm always flying by the seat of my pants, and anything resembling a schedule or a timeline is a miracle from God Himself. So as it ends up, things are just messy. Sometimes it's because I don't even see the mess. and sometimes it's because I prioritize other things. And sometimes I just don't feel like I have the time, and it doesn't bother me that much anyway (until someone pops over unannounced!!!).
so why, if God created women to rule and subdue and bring order, why oh why am I the way I am???? I feel like my little messy life is not in the image of God. God's not messy. And he's not unorganized. and on and on and on. and I was really struggling. ask steve. he's said on more than one occasion in the last few weeks, "wait....WHY are you doing this bible study????" because I was really struggling.
and the following week we talked about the fall, and the curse, and sin. so I had a few days of really wondering if the way I felt like I was created, and my personality traits, and everything about ME was a result of sin. and finally something (likely my therapist (aka my sister) or a good friend or just a realization of the truths I've always known) snapped me out of that. I made a decision right then to give myself a little grace. because there are some things about me, even the ones I was struggling with, that are, in fact, in the image of God. after all, if he created the whole world (and he did), I'd say he has a bit of a creative streak.
so, GRACE. I turned from "why was I created this way" to "what can I do to be better?" (not a very good example of grace, I realize, but it's part of the growth, right?) so in the whole mindset of "what can I do better" I had a moment. I didn't want to use my "creative brain" as a crutch for not being everything that I CAN be! I don't want to live like a slob and just say that's the way I was created. I didn't mention it before, but "domain" is not just your home, work, family. It's everything that you have the ability to rule over. your thoughts, your actions, your relationships (NOT the people, just your part of the relationship), etc. So there were certainly areas in my different domains that I felt like I could use a little shaping up, or "tidying," if you will. and that was the week to do it.
I had wanted to start running again on a regular basis, and for some reason, just hadn't. And I also hadn't been on a date with my husband in a VERY long time. And I knew that in order to increase my peace about the LOATHED cooking, I had to make a meal plan and grocery list.
so i set off to do those things. and let me say, it was quite the week to be studying how we are "fallen." Because all those things I was trying to "be better" at just turned right around and discouraged me. major. I went running, like probably less than a mile, and for the rest of the week I was SO MAD that my muscles were so sore and it was totally ruining my productivity during a time of year where I just can't afford it. And the date I planned with my husband turned into him going to a funeral and me having a pity party with a WHOLE BAG OF TWIX CANDY BARS and then having to talk out all my issues with him the next day. and the meal plan I made? wonderful, until you lose the grocery list before you've purchased all the groceries, so you never actually know if you're going to have all the ingredients you need to make the meals you planned anyway.
see? not a good week. apparently God didn't want me to believe that if I just do better, I'll feel better. no no. that was not the lesson.
but thankfully, we were about to study REDEMPTION! I was expecting this chapter of the book to really ZAP me full of self confidence and fill me up and get me out of my rut of confusion and self destruction. and it wasn't really that. Instead, it was a very basic lesson on what Christ did for me. and justification. and sanctification. and the story of the Shunnamite woman who was an example of the mistress of the domain. now, I know the story of what Christ did for me. I get it. I believe it. But if I"m honest, I don't like to think about it. I fully know that it's not very "Christian" of me to have this little issue, but I do. the thing is, I can believe it for every other person I know. I'm good at teaching my kids what our awesome God did for THEM. and for YOU. but when I think about the fact that he did it for ME? for ANDREA? I can hardly handle it. I feel so unworthy. I feel like I surely let him down so often, after such a sacrifice was made for me. so it's hard. and it actually sparks a works-based faith in me, that isn't truth. So I wanted to take something out of this lesson that wasn't just about how much God loves me and what He did for me. Because I don't like to go there. But the thing I really needed, it came from the Shunnamite woman, someone I had never really even though twice about after reading her story.
she's the one who built the little room onto her house for Elisha to stay in, so that when he was in the area, he could have a place to stay. but, she was barren. and she was devastated about it. She was actually to the point where she won't even let herself think about ever having a child. BUT...she does not let what she does NOT have keep her from doing what she can with what she DOES have. I think so often I get stuck in mentality of being unorganized, and hating to cook, and all these little things that I feel like define me. These skills that I lack. And that's where I stay.
But if I live my life like the Shunnamite woman, and just decide to figure out how I can glorify God with what I DO have, and what I CAN do, then THAT'S where the joy comes. That's what's worshipping God is.
So I can look at my life and know that maybe the "rule and subdue" and the "order" and all that is just going to look a little differently in my messy life. maybe to me, a big pile on the counter is actually AWESOME because that means it's in a PILE instead of all over the counter! and maybe me just actually cooking food, no matter how it turns out, or how fancy it is, or how many people like it, is an act of worshipping God by serving my family. and maybe the dishes in the sink just mean that I chose to glorify God at my sewing machine instead of at the kitchen sink for that night. and it's all ok! it's all part of me. I know, it all sounds so easy and DUH. but when you've got insecurities you're working through, it doesn't matter what you "should" know. it all has to work itself out.
so you're probably wondering what part of spilling my guts like that to all these women was the "creative presentation." well, after I spewed it all out, and ugly cried for a few minutes while they stared at me, I gave this little analogy.
the day before we discussed the redeemed portion, but the week we were working on it at home, I had LENTIL LOAF on the meal plan. I was dreading it for a week, and it was here. staring me in the face. now, if you're not familiar with lentil loafs, they're kinda known for being crumbly and dry. or maybe it's just the vegan versions. anyway, I knew that the lady from the blog I got the recipe from had tired MANY MANY recipes before finally tweaking them into her own wonderful recipe. So I was really nervous just because I knew that lots of people (who love cooking and find joy in the process) struggled with this dish, so why on earth was the culinarily dis-inclined ME going to try it?
anyway, as I was looking at the lovely picture of it, I realized that it was the "created" version of lentil loaf. it was beautiful and perfect and exactly what the creator intended it to be! and ok, so maybe I wouldn't be able to make mine EXACTLY like that, but I was going to give it a try.
and during the process of making this dish, everything felt very "fallen." first of all, the lentil weren't cooking right. there was all this water that wasn't soaking into them, or whatever is supposed to happen. and I have had lots of very frustrating lentil experiences. so this one just really got to me. I finally decided I would just drain them, because seriously. so while I'm draining the lentils, I have no idea how, (well, it might have somehting to do with all the dishes in the sink and trying to make one little space for the strainer) I SPILLED burning hot lentils all over my feet. and THEN, while I was grating the apples and carrots, I destroyed my fingernails and finger tips with the grater! and THEN I had a bunch of ingredient issues, like running out of balsamic vinegar, and not having apple butter. (seriously? who just HAS apple butter. they should have put a note at the top that you'd have to MAKE the apple butter first.)
so just when I'm about to throw in the towel and head to Chipotle, I have this sense of like, peace. because not ALL lentil loaves have to be exactly the same! and maybe mine has a few things missing, or a few extra things, but in the end it just might be ok!
so by golly, I baked that sucker. and guess what. it was wonderful. it was delicious. i loved it. the kids loved it. steve even loved the leftovers! the big blob of mush came out of the oven REDEEMED. and yeah, so it didn't look like the "created" version from pinterest. but it served it's purpose. and it served it well.
and for the first time in my life, I felt like a lentil loaf. :)