Does life’s chaos–especially the time you spend managing your illness–ever leave you feel wanting. . . lonely? Lisa explains.
“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. (Psalm 39:6)
One of the silly reasons I was eager for summer to start was because my favorite coffee place had a new syrup–sugar-free chocolate syrup that could be added to anything, even ice-coffee, to feel like a splurge. Coffee, chocolate, there are days when a girl needs her vices and when it’s decaf and sugar-free you give in a little.
After about the fifth one by August, however, I was tired of the drink spilling all over the lid every time I tried to stick a straw it in. I dumped coffee out, I asked for new lids, at drive-through windows I pulled over in the parking lot and tried to clean up the mess. Finally, I walked back into the coffee place and said, “What can I do so that it’s not spilling over every time I order this? It happens at every store I go to! I even ask for ‘room’” (the secret word for “room for cream.”)
“You need ‘spillage room,’” he said.
“What is it called?”
Well, okay. . . So now I order a “Grande, iced, sugar-free chocolate coffee with spillage room” and it’s never been messy again.
There are days when my life–and living with a chronic illness–is just plain messy! Like the cup that has no room for even a straw, before it spills all over, so is my life. The New Living translation of Psalm 39: 6 is “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.”
The illness can seem to overflow into every crevice of my life. Sometimes, life can contain it, but if you add in one more thing, it overflows and gets all sticky and messy. My life needs spillage room!
And to a certain degree, I am able to make that happen. I once heard that Satan’s biggest tool is busyness and distraction. In my own life, I have to watch myself carefully and be aware of this, because busyness, even with illness slowing me down, is my downfall when it comes to being distracted away from the Lord’s feet.
Those days when I slow down and pray rather than just pleading with God for help, I have extra spillage room. The days I sit with my Bible without distraction, and get into taking notes and studying and contemplating–I have more spillage room. When life gets crazy and hurried and I zip through my quiet time, my spillage room shrinks.
And I am embarrassed to admit that there are days when I am guilty of looking at the clock and asking, “Is that enough, Lord? Did I earn a chaos-free day because I spent this time with you? Is there something more I can do to avoid anything bad happening?” But God is not that kind of God. Time at His feet doesn’t prevent the bad things on earth from happening, it just gives you more wisdom and endurance to handle it when it arrives.
I love this quote by Henri J.M. Nouwen from his book, Making All Things New and Other Classics
“As soon as we are alone. . . inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires.
On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”
Prayer: Lord, so often it feels like life requires us to hold in the feelings about everything and go through the motions so we can get done what needs to be done. But then a crisis comes, and with life’s chaos we end up back on our knees again wondering why we didn’t just bring it to You to begin with. Help me stay close to You–out of desire, not only my need. Amen.
About the author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.
When you think about life’s chaos what comes to mind? Do you ever feel like if someone just “bumps” you emotionally, your emotions are going to overflow and get messy? How can you create “spillage room” in your life?
Gwen Smith is one of my friends and I absolutely love her music. I hope this song, “Uncluttered” will touch you as it does me.