A Sanballat of A Day

I live a tiny life.

I make it small for safety’s sake, for the sake of my own fragility that I feel every day when my ankles click from spraining them in Basketball when I was 12, for the sake of my broken hearts, my broken dreams, my invisible fears. I live a tiny life.

The other night the rain came down and the trees beat against my roof. In the darkness everything bad seems possible, and I don’t watch the News and I run for the hills when Unsolved Mysteries comes on. My imagination is vivid enough on it’s own, thank you.
I prayed my way to morning, with those stupid, half-awake prayers, “I’m so glad I have a dog, a dog, to bark when there are intruders. Too bad she’s old and stupid. I’m so glad I have God and I don’t have to depend on my dog. Thank you God, for being here. God and Dog! A Palindrome! Thank you for palindromes“.
See? Lamest prayer ever, but it was sincere.
I woke up feeling ridiculous, because I live in a nice neighborhood and my neighbors are all retired and probably check my house frequently for weird activities.
The library fee I paid today made the old librarian blush, and I didn’t want to be One Of THOSE People, so I try to explain and excuse as I hand over my forty dollars, and she seems a little overwhelmed by the weight of two twenties. I suppose she’s used to handling quarters, but I walk away with a clean slate.
At the grocery store there is a lady outside, with a young boy and a baby, little months old, in a pink jumper.
I can’t believe she is begging.
She looked nice, her kids well dressed. My socioeconomic presuppositions come crashing down for a moment but I promptly forget about her as my two boys run around inside the store, threatening to careen into wine bottles and bags of flour. I feel successful because I’ve made it past the blankity blank car display that is always by the register without making a purchase for my auto frenzied boys.
As I walk out, I see her again, propping her baby up with the cardboard sign, and I get mad but I forget the feeling fast because I’m holding two small hands and a bag of groceries, and none of those three things want to be held.
I climb into the car and sit. I think about social programs, and homeless shelters, and what-in-the-world is she doing here, and I think about her sign that simply said, “Lost Job, Two Kids, Please Help”.
I think it is a scam, but then I think about the chill in the air, and the pink baby. Maybe her sign is lying to me, but her needs are real. I call my husband for advice, because my prayers are not answered in sky writing and my hormones have been known to make me do unwise things. He tells me to do what I need to do, but in the middle of his reminders to watch the kids if I cross the parking lot again, I see her walk away.
By the time I got off the phone she was gone, and I did drive off to find her, but she had vanished. I went home and stabbed my ground beef with the spatula as I made spaghetti.
Why do I get spaghetti? Why do I live in this giant house with so much food, and a lot of canned goods?
I know the canned goods come from my husband’s devotion to Costco and buying in bulk, but seriously…why am I not in the cold, wandering around waiting for someone to buy my baby food?
It starts to hail and I just can’t believe it. It. Is. Hailing.
The woman is gone, and I am left with my food and my guilt over library late fees and small living. I start to cry again when I wonder if she is in the HAIL while I am by my heater, but I stop myself. The point of Christ is not to mope about lost opportunity. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
My son sings a song about teeth when I tuck him in. He wants me to sing it to him, but since he is the only one who knows it, that’s impossible.
It seems like so many things are impossible for me. I even forgot to buy the spaghetti noodles I went to the store for.
Seriously.
I read my bible as the kids fight over a purple airplane.
I read a man’s words to the Jews who are trying to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, a feat that had been an epic failure for 100 years. He mocks God’s people by saying, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble, even the burned ones?” –Nehemiah 4:2
It sums up my feelings about my life and I realize that I’ve spent the day mocking…myself. What is this feeble woman doing? I am dusty rubble, burned stones, and I see babies with cardboard pleas for help…BABIES! and I do nothing and cry about it later.
To make me holy is impossible. Can the burned stones be revived and restored?
With no other hope in sight and an aversion to self help books, I bring my mess to the author and perfecter of my faith, the One who died to save me, the One who PROMISED to complete the good work in me that he started. He promised.
Consider Him.
He builds walls out of burned rocks. He makes donkeys talk. He rises from the dead. He changes small lives into saintly lives.
I’m an impossibility…but nothing is impossible for Him.
How often do we mock ourselves? See ourselves as epic failures? We are God’s Project, and God never fails, He’s in charge of working out the small details! (Yes, that was a bible song from my childhood. You’re welcome)

Don’t mock yourself- you mock God’s work.

27 thoughts on “A Sanballat of A Day

  1. There is no condemnation in Christ. Yes. Keep saying it to yourself, to us. Wise woman, checking in with your man when not sure what to do. And, I'm so thankful we can pray the lame prayers. Beats lying awake in despair. Good stuff here. Bonus point for working “Sanballat” into the title of a blog post!

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  2. I have nothing really to say since I am still processing this and thinking on my own life, but just wanted you to know I so appreciate your transperancy and your gift with words.

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  3. Your sincerity here is powerful. I feel like I could gave a conversation with you about all of this and other things if I knew you in “real life.” Thank you especially for this line, “I'm an impossibility…but nothing is impossible for Him.”

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  4. I don't know but I get the impression you are feeling really down on yourself as you write this, and for sure you're an amazing woman and of course daughter of Christ. So I am saying a prayer right now for you to take joy in your life.

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  5. i think i love you. i think we must be soul sisters, only you were the one who got all the good genes. you are beautiful and wonderful and i love your spirit and your reflection and always, your humor, but mostly, your depth.

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  6. there was much to love here, but my favorite scene was the library lady. my husband DESPISES a late fee, but lateness is in my DNA … plus, i view it as a donation to the cause of literacy. ahem.

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  7. I think this might be my favorite that you've written… I'm just blown away.
    It's amazing how we all have these small lives, and yet they add up. Our little worlds can make big change. And our hearts… so big.

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  8. oh joann, i think you have all of us crying … this is one of the most beautiful, rawest posts i've ever read of yours, and i'm so grateful for you and your heart and i want to be your neighbor and run over when it's scary outside and pray lame prayers with you and beg God to help those women with the babies in the cold. you are beautiful to me.

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  9. i haven't even read this yet. i just rushed over here to tell you that i think you read my “snow castle” post before i finished editing it! (now i will read your post, with relish! — not, like, actual relish.)

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  10. Your hormones make you do unwise things – LOL! But in all reality – that happened to me just the other day, only there was a dog in place of a pink baby. I'm a sucker for dogs. I pulled closer, actually dug in my purse to see if I had ANY cash (I had NONE), and saw a sign “Do not approach dog – may bite.” Hmmmmm….

    Oh, and the spaghetti thing – now whenever we're eating spaghetti (it's the meal we have when there's nothing else in the cupboards), I'll be thankful that we actually HAVE, spaghetti.

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