Thank you for your encouraging responses to last week’s post. It helped to open up about the struggles related to caring for my mom. Your uplifting words not only lighted my spirit, but also helped to alter my perspective.
The cry of my heart is to see things from God’s perspective – to have the eyes of my heart enlightened, so that I may daily know His hope and the immeasurable greatness of His power. (Ephesians 1:18)
God reminded me of another season in my life when a different set of circumstances felt difficult to bear… and how He graciously intervened to alter my perspective.
Back in 2005, I had been hired to be the administrator of a brand new, uniquely-styled school – Veritas Academy. Doors opened that fall to a larger-than-expected first year enrollment of over 130 students. I was excited to see what could be accomplished, although I only planned to stay on for the two years I had committed to. Not a day more. Little did I know then that God had far deeper – and longer – plans that eventually would include the rest of my family in some form or fashion.
God also used (and is still using) my tenure at Veritas to grow and purge me of perspectives that had gotten in the way of my relationship with Him – namely being too much of a people-pleaser and a propensity to manage things in my own wisdom and strength.
I will never forget that first year back in 2005-06:
The exceedingly long hours. The daily problems that required immediate attention. Striving to meet the expectations of families. Pouring into students. Supporting weary teachers. Answering to board members. Mediating disagreements. Straining to find time for family. (It was also in this inaugural school year that my first grandchild was born and my youngest daughter got married!)
To be honest, I really wanted to bail. Too many people to please. Too much weight to manage. Too many problems to solve. Not a feel-good recipe for someone like me.
I remember one morning on the drive to school when I felt particularly overwhelmed.
The “to-do” task I had complied in my planner that morning felt insurmountable. Arriving at school, I jumped out of the car and ran to the office hoping not to be interrupted on the way, but there waiting for me beside the office door was Sheila, a mom of three boys. She grabbed me by the arm and said, “God told me to come pray with you today.” Leading me inside to a chair, she sat me down and pulled out a large bowl from the bag she had brought with her.“ Furthermore,” she continued, ” I am going to wash your feet.”
“Wash my feet? I don’t have time for this,” I silently lamented as Sheila ran to fill a pitcher with water.
I resisted. But Sheila insisted.
Not wanting to offend her, I sat down feeling rather embarrassed. I was hired to serve the families in this school – not the other way around. And besides my feet were a mess from months of neglect. What would Sheila think?
However, as she began to wash my feet something broke within and I began to sob. God was using Sheila’s act of love to break down the deceptive walls of self-sufficiency and people-pleasing I had encased myself in. As she prayed, I began to feel enormous relief and a transformative kind of peace. (Thank you Sheila should you happen to read this!)
Now for the part that I rarely share…..
For the remainder of that first year, after this feet washing experience, God’s presence felt real to me in a distinctively strange way. As I walked around campus attending to my responsibilities, I felt like I was being carried in a “bubble” – a giant, see through shield that surrounded me. Within this “bubble,” my perspective was calmer. Rather than fear, I felt peace. Rather than trepidation, I felt joy. Within this “bubble,” issues did not appear so overwhelming.
Looking back, I believe God knew that I needed a tangible sign of His presence and this was His unique gift to me at a time when I really, really, really needed it.
I know this likely sounds strange (if any of you have experienced something similar, write back and share!), but I cannot begin to describe how much this “bubble” experience changed me. Rather…….His presence changed me. The “bubble” was merely God’s way of letting me experience nearness to Him and to show me how to abide in His presence more consistently where my own perspective wouldn’t complicate things.
Sometimes I would catch myself stepping away from this “bubble” but soon anxious striving would be the result and I would quickly jump back in.
I could deeply relate to King David’s words in these Psalms:
“How lovely is your dwelling place, Oh Lord of Hosts. My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord, my heart and flesh sing for joy in the living God.” (Psalm 84:1,2)
“You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.” (Psalm 16:11)
Even though the “bubble” has long since disappeared, I know that God’s presence is real and I can abide with Him in my present circumstances – no matter what they are. While previously I had known that God was everywhere, I had not yet comprehended that He could envelope me in His presence. Now I know and this perspective changes everything.
I have pondered this week how to teach this to my grandkids……
My conclusion is that it’s something that cannot be taught.
Rather it’s caught.