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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

grumbling about manna

I'm beginning to write this in the morning because I already feel like grumbling today.

Nick and I are a part of redemption groups at our church, Mars Hill, which are essentially short-term group counseling sessions that are intense and life changing & often hard. As we walk through the areas in our lives that we need serious redemption, we're reading through Exodus and I'm developing a love/hate relationship with the Israelites as I find myself identifying with them. The slavery, the freedom, the wandering - it's exhausting. So is my heart most days.

So, this past week we got to the lesson concerning manna & the Israelites grumbling and I breathed a sigh of relief because come on, I know manna. I've alluded to this being a hard year for us financially, but in truth - the symptoms of not having money stopped affecting us in a negative way several months ago. Let me clarify - we have still have very little money, we just got used to it very quickly. It's been hard to fight worrying about the future, it's been a battle to fight for my husband's encouragement as he tries to provide for us in a tough economy, and if I'm honest - it's difficult to choose to let people bless us and help us every once in a while. But truly, it hasn't been hard to believe God will provide for our needs - because He's never once failed. And we chose early on not to grumble. No dinners out, no coffee on the way to church, and no shopping trips to Target don't seem like such a sacrifice when you're eating manna each day.

So I thought, "Thank you Jesus for this lesson on manna. Thank you for making it real to me, help me to be a testimony." But, of course... there was more.

In our lesson, we were learning about how God's people grumbled about the manna, hoarded it, and didn't trust God to provide. Then the whammy came for me - our book warned us, that the issues we probably grumble about are so ingrained in us, we can't see them any longer. Since our desires are a good look at what our hearts are after, one of our assignments was to examine what we truly, specifically wanted. Answering the question - "what do you REALLY desire, specifically" is not a fun activity all the time.

Doing our redemption group work that week wasn't very comfortable for me. It wasn't pretty or comfy and there was no leisurely bible reading with coffee. I was literally sweating, shifting in my chair, and looked a bit possessed. Because the truth is - if the Israelites made their stomachs their gods and didn't trust Him to provide their food, I've been absolutely denying God the ability to provide for me emotionally during this season.

My heart has hurt, I've battled shame, and my emotions have run wild. And most of the time, I've denied the Lord the opportunity to come and love on me. I've developed a sick little habit of "bathroom screaming", which is the term I use for grumbling in my head whenever I'm in the bathroom (aka - the only time I have alone). I scream out my hurt, my frustrations, and the injustice I see. I scream about how no one understands, how the dishes are always dirty, how cleaning up poop is so gross. I scream about how there aren't enough hours during the day, how tired I am, and how sensitive I am. The only problem is, I'm not crying out to the Lord. I'm just screaming (but in my head, as not to scare the toddlers).

So as I had to fill in the blank about what I wanted, I was pretty appalled. Everything I wanted, the opposite of all I grumble about, is concerning my identity and how I'm viewed by the rest of the world. Am I a good housewife? Am I a strong believer? Can I handle it all?
The real question:
Can I trust God to be enough when I am not? When I never am? Can I trust Him to meet my own needs when I fail myself, when others fail me, when I fail others, when I fail Him?

I sure do trust Him for bread, but can I trust Him to love me?
To hear me when I call?
Can I trust him enough to cry out to Him instead of grumble to myself?

My wise friend Marisa said, "If you're not fighting against your grumbling, you're fighting for it". So I'm fighting against my grumbling this week, waging war against my sin. Beginning with confession and praying through psalm 27, which is a passage that is teaching me to cry out to the Lord. Asking him to help me seek after Him. Hiding in His shelter, crying out to Him, & waiting for Him to be gracious to me - which He already is. I mean, come on - He provides so much manna.
In so many ways.


Rachel said...

I do bathroom screaming too. Now that I have a name to call it maybe I will be more aware of it. I'm encouraged and challenged to also pray through psalm 27.

Even though I hate this struggle for you, it is comforting to know I'm not alone. It's not so fun being my life twin, huh? :~$

Annie said...

Thank you for this today Jess. I needed that Psalm today.

Marisa said...

1. i am not wise. not even remotely close.

2. i have been mulling over your comment from sunday night "is Jesus enough when your husband is not enough?" ugh...that goes straight through my heart.

3. really looking forward to our so-far unscheduled coffee date :).

inthemiddleoflife said...

Jess, you nailed it here. I know you'd rather have learned this principle in theory, but how sweet that you are still able to look to Him and be taught the grace of manna in the midst of wilderness. love you, momma.

michelle said...

yes yes yes yes yes.
you've articulated something i bet every mom must feel (ie, bathroom screaming.), although we mostly feel alone in it. i know i grumble, and i know i really need to rely on the Lord (not myself, not my husband) so much more AND trust that He IS enough.
why is it SO hard??