First of all, Happy Memorial Day! I woke up this morning with a grateful heart for all of the men and women stationed around the world who defend our freedoms each and every day. Freedom to worship. Freedom to dialogue openly about issues that are important to us. Freedom to vote. Freedom to live without fear. And the list goes on and on. As a kid whose dad graduated from the United States Naval Academy, I grew up with a built-in awareness and gratefulness for those who defend our freedoms. I am so thankful for the reunions and visits to the USNA campus that gave me a small understanding of the cost of the freedoms I regularly enjoy.
A couple of years ago, Jason, myself, and my two oldest girls accompanied my parents to Annapolis for my dad’s 50th football reunion. As we sat in the Navy-Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium and watched Air Force and Annapolis play, I was struck by the words around the stadium – all battles where the Navy and Marine-Corps had fought to defend our freedoms – and how those playing on the field now would go in just a few short months or years to fight in battles that were yet to be displayed to a watching world.
For the full story of our trip to Annapolis and that game, read here – Playing With Heart.
But suffice it to say, today, and every day, I am thankful. Thankful for the great sacrifice that has been given so that you and I can walk in freedom.
(Believe it or not, that’s me on the far left, along with my friends Holly Casserly and Joanna Dawson, as a 19 year old visiting my dear friend, Edd Hendee, at the end of his plebe year at the Naval Academy.)
But in the midst of Memorial Day, and the great pause this holiday provides for us at this time of year, like I talked about last week, this time of year can be crazy for moms, and I mean downright crazy. I am not exaggerating when at times I think I might be about to lose my mind or not make it past the minute if I do not slow down, sit down, or lay down in the prone position for 48 hours at one time. I would think I was abnormal and really start to worry if I did not know that every other mother I’ve talked to this week feels exactly the same way I do.
It’s because our culture is nuts. Absolutely nuts. We are expected to go, be, do, and think in 100 different directions all at the same time. We are supposed to check our texts, keep up with our emails, coordinate everyone’s carpools, help everyone with their homework and projects, have dinner on the table, look presentable, exercise and workout to keep svelte and looking suave for swimsuit season, spend quality time with our children while planning playdates, future prom dates, and extraordinary Friday afternoon activities, all the while maintaining deep, quality friendships of our own in all of our spare time. And, oh yeah, be a great wife. My poor husband. Quality conversation consists of him patting my hand at the end of the day as I read or watch something on Netflix because I simply don’t have anymore words for anyone. They were all used up by four kids and end-of-school madness by noon earlier that day.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I just want to learn how to enjoy a day, one full day in its entirety, without panicking or having an anxiety attack about all that I’ve left undone. I just want to be fully present wherever I am with a mind fixed with great peace on the Lord, confident I’m doing exactly what He has asked me to do. Nothing more and nothing less.
But it’s amazing how everything in our culture – and I mean everything – pulls us away from spending steadfast time with the Lord. And while I am talking about time spent with an open Bible, pen, and paper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, I am also talking about steadfast thoughts throughout the day. A mind fixed upon the things of God.
I will be minding my own happy business, enjoying a solitary moment with the Lord in prayer when WHAM! All of a sudden I cannot shake thinking about the shoes I saw perfect for summer and if they have my size. Or I have visions of all the summer camp forms with packing lists and health forms still waiting to be filled out floating around on my desk or in my inbox. Or I know I have exactly one hour before I have to pick up carpool, my little one is down for her nap, and I have space – restorative space – to read, pray, rest, or write, and all of a sudden, I hear my phone buzz. Ten texts and thirty minutes later, my time is whittled down to half of what it could have been, and I am anxious and stressed about the to-do’s I just read on my texts.
But Isaiah 26:3 says this, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you.”
This verse has calmed my heart many times through the years, but a few weeks ago, I was curious about the definition of certain words in the original Hebrew language. So I looked up the word stayed in my WordStudy Dictionary. Here’s what it said, “A verb meaning to lay on, to uphold, to sustain. It indicates placing or laying something on a person or animal, often in ritualistic or legal setting; a hand on a sacrificial animal…to lean against a wall with one’s hand….It has the sense of supporting or sustaining someone….In its passive participle, it describes a heart that is supported, sustained (Psalm 112:8).”
According to this definition, we are to place or lay our minds upon the Lord…and leave them there. The only way I know how to actually do that is to deeply trust whatever my mind, or hand, is leaning up against so that I don’t pull it away in times of distraction or panic.
In the same verse, the word trust means this: “to attach oneself, to trust, confide in, feel safe, be confident, secure; to be careless…The basic idea is associated with firmness or solidity. The word expresses the sense of well-being which results from knowing that the ‘rug won’t be pulled out from under you.’” I love that definition. We are to lay our minds upon the Lord confidently, safely, securely, knowing that the rug will not be pulled out from underneath us. In other words, we can deeply trust and rely on the God we serve and upon whom we lean.
How that practically plays out in my day is this: in the mornings, I must go to Him regularly, dependently, not needing anything from Him – not trying to get a lesson out of Him that I can teach or a Bible study I can write or a word I can share – but simply go to God for God’s sake. Because He is my good Father and in His presence, I experience great peace.
It means that during the day, when I pause to pray about a choice I need to make or a scheduling decision, I pause to hear His voice…and then I obey it. I don’t do whatever I want to do or makes sense in my logical, rational mind (although sometimes I do), I simply follow where He leads and trust that He has His highest and my best in mind.
It means that when I have a choice to follow along the path of the regular restorative rhythms I have set in my days and week, I follow it. I don’t check email. I don’t check texts. I pray. I listen. I write. I visit with a friend. I do the things that bring peace and joy and not just accomplishment.
And it means that when I blow it (which is often), I turn to embrace grace instead of condemnation, forgiveness instead of shame, and love instead of self-hatred from a God who is steadfast even when I am unstable and is there to catch me every single time I fall.
I am learning slowly, ever so slowly, that the steadfast mind doesn’t rely upon self but on the Steadfast One, no matter how uneven the ground, slippery the slope, or exhausting the season is. And there is a God whose love never fails and whose steadfast arms never let us go, as our minds choose to fully rely and lean upon Him.
“There is a way which seems right to a man,
but its end is the way of death…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”
Proverbs 16:25; Proverbs 3:5-6