What an Inconvience

8:06 PMHeather

I know it's been radio silence here on my blog for almost a week.   Last time we met here, I wrote about saying good-bye to Chris' Mamaw.  Here's the latest.  

We are still in the process of the long good-bye.  In fact, I sit here tonight in her hospice room, taking an overnight shift with her to relieve my exhausted husband and mother-in-law.  Mamaw's fighting spirit and tenacity are showing up, even in her journey home.  It's like her lifelong determination just won't stop.  She always bemoaned a prolonged death.  Yet, her body now fights to the end.  We are eager to see her go to the arms of her Savior.  While balancing our own impending sense of loss.  And, let me tell ya--it's a hard place to be.  

So, I sit her tonight, full of reflections and deep thoughts through my weary fog.  I remember my last all night vigil.  All those years ago.  I sort of feel I'm facing my demons by revisiting this place.  Where labored breathing is the only sound.  And the watch for death, though a sweet release, is hard.  Come Lord Jesus!  Do not tarry.  Yet, the finality of it from our own perspectives makes that feel awkward to say.  

I sit here tonight, hard though it may be, because I want to be useful.  I want to be helpful and to minister.  To the family who can sleep in their beds while I sleep here.  To the Mamaw who poured herself into my husband, helping shape the man he has become.  
My task here tonight turns my thoughts back to something my husband texted me the other night as we made some plans for our family.  It wasn't convenient or easy--what we were wanting to do.  But, as Chris said, "Sometimes the good thing isn't the easy thing."

Sometimes the good thing isn't the easy thing.  Indeed.  But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.  That doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do it.  In fact, quite the opposite is often true.  The right thing--the good thing--is often the hardest thing.

Like the nurses here, who so nearly brought me to tears, as they tenderly leaned in to care for Mamaw's dry mouth, and checked all her vitals.  Speaking to her with such kindness and love, although she hasn't responded in days.  What kind of person signs up for this gig, I wonder?  Day after day, caring for the sick and the dying.  Who don't respond.  Whose families may not be thankful.  Or who may be quite angry or irritable as grief overwhelms them.

Oh, yes!  Let me do that!  A nurse in a hospice hospital!  That'll be fun--said no one EVER.  But, again.  The good thing to do isn't always the easy thing.

And I ponder how very far our culture, and yes--even our churches--have drifted from this truth.  Because we want convenience.  Like Tim Hawkin's joke about the Taco Bell Express.  Because the regular Taco Bell just isn't fast enough.  I want my venti skinny vanilla latte no whip and I want it NOW!  What?  I have to wait in LINE at the Super Target, where anything I need is readily available.  Ugh.  Ain't nobody got time for that!

Here's another great example.  The BMW that turned right in front of us and we nearly hit on the way here because he just couldn't be inconvenienced to wait any longer.    Having been in an airport multiple times in the last few weeks, I've decided that they are a breeding ground and showcase for the depravity of man.  No, Mr. I-carry-my-huge-guitar-as-a-carry-on.  Don't mind me!  The one you nearly took out as you swung that bad boy toward my head and I somehow ducked to avoid being knocked out!  The same man who dropped his heavy bag on the flight attendant's foot and failed to even respond to her loud ouch.  Don't let us get in your way.  Lest you do the hard, inconvenient thing and consider those around you.

It's all about me.  And my needs are now.  And if something--ANYTHING--is too hard that's a sure sign it shouldn't be attempted.  Right?

WRONG.  Not true.  How many generations ago did people have to grow or raise everything they ate?  Now, if we can't nuke it or cook it in a few minutes time, forget it.  I sit here watching Mamaw, who sewed most of my mother-in-law's clothes.  No running out to Marshall's for a white blouse just like the picture on Pinterest.  No online shopping.  No clearance racks.  Just choosing fabrics and patterns and cutting and sewing and nipping and tucking.  And creating something beautiful with your own two hands.  Not easy--but oh, so worth it.

And if we think that those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ are immune to the self-serving attitude of what's easy and best for me, think again.  We attach ourselves to the name of Jesus.  As in the Son of God.  Who was equal to God, but didn't consider himself to be equal.  So, he humbled himself.  To come to earth as a man.  A man with no beauty in him.  A rebel with a cause, rejected and mocked by men.  Misunderstood by his own family.  Hated.  To the point of death.  Even death on a cross.  Naked.  Bleeding.  Broken.  Taking on the sins of all mankind.  Crying out to his Father, "Why have you forsaken me?!"

Easy? Not at all.  Good?  The turning point of all history.  The point in time that every person on earth marks the calendar by to this very day.  

So we call ourselves little Christs--or Christians.  But, we deny and refuse to truly follow his example.  Get up early to go serve the homeless?  Oh, I can't.  I have a soccer game for my son, then a basketball game for my daughter, and well, we have dinner plans.   Reach out to the widow down the street?  Whom I don't know that well?  AWKWARD.  Obviously, someone else is better suited.  You know--someone more comfortable with that situation or someone who knows her better.   Go on a mission trip to a place with no running water or flushing toilets?  Not my thing.

I'm beginning to realize the lie that I've bought.  I'm beginning to see that I've fallen for the philosophy that if it's super hard or inconvenient, then it's not for me.  Oh, I can do THAT.  That's easy!  That works for me!  Fits into my schedule.  Totally comfortable with that.  Check.  Sign me up.

What?!  Is that what God said?  Does his word say, "Take up your cross--if it's not uncomfortable or inconvenient--and follow me!  But only when it's easy and timely and well planned and TOTALLY in your comfort zone.  Only then."

Hmmm.  The good thing to do might not be the easy thing to do.  This is a lesson I'm learning.  Slowly.  Oh, it ain't easy, alright.   And, I'm not boasting.  Cause I got a LONG way to go.  But, this truth hits me smack in the face when I'm running with my husband at dark thirty.  Or when I'm sweating it out at boot camp even earlier than that on the other weekdays.   Listen, don't be impressed.  It's taken me about 7 months to even begin to embrace this idea of exercising regularly.  I think I'm finally surrendered to it enough to see the benefits.  To see that indeed, it is a GOOD thing to take care of myself.  And, wow.  I do feel better when I do!  You know what?  EPIPHANY.  The hard thing--in fact, the hardness of the thing--actually makes it even better when it's accomplished.  Duh.  Like going through labor to hold your amazing newborn child.

Ever so very slowly--cause I'm not so happy about the hard things--I'm beginning to open my eyes to even consider what hard things--what good things, I might stretch myself to do.  What benefits and blessings might they bring?  If only I were willing to pay the price?  It reminds me of when my husband was pledging a fraternity, back in the day.  It was hard.  And constant.  And, hopefully no backlash from some college administrator--but honestly, yes.  Those boys were hazed.  Doing silly things.  Like pulling staples from telephone poles at 4 am.  (Um, am I now on some hit list because I've shared this information publicly?  With the tens of people who read this blog?)   

And when they were initiated, they could not have been more proud, more invested, more dedicated to their fraternity because of all the hard things they had been through to become part of it.  They'd paid the price.  They shared the hard things as a pledge class.  They bonded.  And they survived.   There were sweet rewards.  They had a different appreciation for where they were because of what they'd been through to get there.  Membership was a good thing.  But, nope.  Pledging was not easy.  

Here's the challenge I present today.  We deceive ourselves about the hard things.  We say we are entitled to the easy, convenient, fun things.  Even as believers.  When anything falls outside our little box, we avert our eyes and proclaim that it must NOT be meant to be.  It's just too hard to make happen.  Too early in the day.  Too late at night.  Too much effort.  Takes too much of me, and I only have so much to give.  Plus, there's no recognition or return in that investment.  I'd just be pouring myself out.  For nothing.

But, there's a day coming.  A day where we meet our Jesus face-to-face.  A day we pray comes quickly for Mamaw, as I sit here thinking about life and death.  A day where the societal priority of ease and comfort over hard work and servanthood is seen for the lie that it is.  A day where we see all the good things.  All the possibilities.  All the opportunities to do the hard thing.  Because they were the right thing, the God honoring thing, the Jesus imitating thing.  And, they would have brought a reward beyond our ease or our comfort.  They would have brought us more crowns to cast at the feet of our Savior when we are humbled in his presence and realize just how much we wish we could have given.  All of who we are.  All of our time.  All of our talents.  All of our energy.  All for Him.  And it never would be too much because it would never be enough.  

Lord, help me to be more like these nurses and these doctors.  Who pour themselves out, with little thanks.  Little recognition.  Little reward.  Little ease.  Little comfort.  Just motivated deeply within to do the grunt work of caring for those who will never recover.  Because it's the right thing to do.  It's the honorable thing to do.  It's the loving thing to do.  And it's oh so beautiful.  It's the sacred ministry of hard things to bring glory to the One who did the hardest thing in all of history.         

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