A Word From Pastor Kally
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Hello Church! I am writing to you, locked away in my bedroom, music blaring in my earphones, sun streaming through the windows (thank God for a sunny day!) and a cup of coffee growing cold on my bedside table. All of which sounds a bit idyllic, right? I mean, I get to work in my pajamas, actually sitting in my bed! What could be better?
What I didn’t tell you is that I am locked away in my bedroom with my music blaring because in the kitchen my husband is trying to work on school assignments with my very resistant daughter. There is wailing. There is gnashing of teeth. I am pretty sure at any moment, my daughter may change from the pajamas she’s been wearing all week into sack cloth and ashes.
My husband will leave for work in a few minutes. Considered an “essential worker,” he will get to climb into his truck and drive away from this house, to another place where he will speak with other adults, and eat a meal in relative peace. He will be in this other place, for many hours today. I have taken to referring to him going to work as his “vacation” though he does not call it that.
My three boys will be up when they wake up this morning. I began their first day of “homeschool” with a resounding rendition of “Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory Glory!” as I burst into their bedrooms at the early-dawn hour of 8:30 but honestly, I don’t have the wherewithal to keep that up each day. “Distance learning,” as the school district is calling it, began for them on Wednesday but so far, they don’t seem to have much homework. I wish they had more; a lot more. Until then, we will argue, complete with plenty of yelling, about turning off the video games and chores that need to be accomplished.
The other night my husband returned from his “vacation” to find me face down on the living room floor. I was done. Done with it all. Kids, home-schooling, cooking food for these people who never stop eating, work, the pandemic, fear, anxiety, yelling, everything. And yet, I still had a running list of tasks that I “needed” to finish before I could let my mind relax. From facedown on the floor I groaned, “I still have so much to do!” My smart husband replied, “Nah, I’m pretty sure you should just stay there.”
He was correct. Nobody but my own anxious mind was telling me I needed to get more accomplished. The only task-master in these pandemic times is my own anxiety, my own need to feel valuable, like I am earning my keep. And this “task-master” is not of God. Nope. Not one bit.
This can be a difficult time for those of us who have the unhealthy tendency to use productivity to determine our worth. Stuck at home, struggling with guilt that we are not “doing more” we might end up doing something crazy like using this time to clean out our closets, our pantries, to wash our floor boards, to write a book, create a podcast, take up running…(we are still allowed to get outside). And while all these things are good and healthy activities in general, if we are doing them from a sense of “I feel worth-less if I don’t do something important” then it might be time to wonder from where we are getting that message because I can promise you, it’s not from God.
I’ve heard people refer to this pandemic as the beginning of the apocalypse. And while I usually roll my eyes at such fear-based theology, if you consider the Greek meaning of the word, apocalypse, the fear-mongers might have a point. The Greek word apocalypse means to “unveil” to “uncover, peel away, to show what is underneath” and for me, forced isolation with my family, is unveiling some of the unhealthy habits I turn to when I feel like life is out of control, namely, trying to control everyone. Stripped of our normal busy-ness we’ve been eating dinner together most evenings, which, in theory, sounds wonderful. But I can assure you, dinner with my teenagers is instead a test of patience and fortitude and has uncovered for us how our family leads with sarcasm instead of kindness. Over the last few weeks I’ve also noticed feelings, I haven’t had time to address in the last year bubbling up from underneath, like the layers of distraction I had built over them are being peeled away. And all this sounds painful and hard – and much of it is – but with the unveiling and peeling away of layers comes finding what lies beneath all of this. As I dig further and further, through the fear and pain and anxiety and dysfunction, what I find underneath is a foundation of deep love; un-ending, unconditional, grace-filled love.
Undergirding my family, undergirding me is Love. And, as scripture tells us, God is Love.
All that other stuff has just gotten in the way of me being able to notice, hear, and feel God’s unfailing love for me, for my family, for our world.
So, in the spirit of apocalypse, I want to encourage you using a verse from the book of Revelation. According to tradition, John ironically writes this verse from total isolation on the island of Patmos, to the church at Ephesus. He writes, “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love – why? What’s going on with you anyway? Turn back! Recover your dear, early love.” (from Revelation 2: 2-4 in the Message)
And I wonder, have I, like the church at Ephesus, also forgotten my first love? The love that knit me together in my mother’s womb, the love breathed life into me, the love that has always, always been faithful to me? Have I forgotten what it is to be utterly undone by God’s love?
Maybe in this time of unveiling and peeling back layers, I can begin to re-cover my “dear, early, love” my “first love;” God’s love for me. Maybe I can remember what it is to not just believe things about this love but to fully trust this love. Maybe as meetings and trips and birthday parties and sports and all the things are stripped away from us, we can begin to uncover the faithful love that undergirds us, and re-cover trust in this faithful love, or maybe even learn to trust it for the very first time.
In the meantime, I’m just going to be in my home, face-down on my living room floor…