There are no trophies here

When I was in high school I found the verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I wrote it in teenage cursive. I made a collage around it. I taped it to my mirror.

Delighting. It was another task to accomplish.

At some point in my childhood, I learned how to please the grownups. I learned that I was really good at pleasing grownups. And soon, it was what I lived for. Looks of approval. Nodding heads to tell me I was enough. I did my best on every sheet of homework and was nice to the weird kids and ran as fast as I could in PE. In return, the grownups gave me trophies: Hardest Worker, Best Character, Girl of the Year.

I’d found my niche. It was in obedience, the completion of tasks, hard work. I didn’t want to pray aloud in Sunday School, but the grownups wanted me to. So I did. And I memorized the verses and brought my Bible to church and counted out my quarters to stick in the offering plate.

God was the Ultimate Grownup, smiling if I could keep up with my tasks, a sweet teacher who liked me as long as I was nice enough to All the People and concerned with All the Bad Things. And if I could do it, if I could risk enough and try enough and come close enough to God, it would be enough.

I would be enough.

Yesterday at my moms’ group, the idea of “enjoying God” came up. We talked about it for a while, that mysterious possibility that God might be known and that joy, real joy, might be found in God’s presence. What does that mean? we wondered.

I thought about the girl with that verse on her mirror. How I took even this concept, this beautiful idea of “delighting” in my Creator who loves me, and added it to my list.

If I delight, THEN I’ll get the desires of my heart. If I really and truly love God, THEN I’ll get into the right college. THEN my life will be something great.

Read your Bible. Pray. Smile Enough. Read your Bible. Pray. Smile Enough. Be Good. Be Bold. Share your Faith. Read your Bible. Pray. Smile Enough.

Performance is doable for a long time, friends. Give everything you have for a week on a mission trip? Yes. You can do this. Work hard at your job. Be a good friend. Make your marriage healthy. Check.

But, eventually you discover the task you cannot survive. Eventually, you weep in your bathroom with a screaming baby attached to your chest and a screaming toddler in the other room and you plug your ears in the fetal position on the toilet lid, rocking back and forth begging it all to go away. You look in the mirror and realize you cannot perfect this thing, this small thing that everyone else in the world seems capable of doing. Motherhood. And there is no one handing out trophies.

Eventually, you realize God is not standing beside you screaming while you cry over your failures. God is not chastising you for your exhausted mother-fails. God is not dragging you back into line when you fall down, commanding you to try again. Try again.

God is the one in the bathroom with you. God is the one with the toddler in his bedroom. God is the one holding your baby and holding your wild head and saying, Shhhhh. Shhhhh. I know. I know.

Eventually delighting in the Lord doesn’t happen because you tried. Delighting happens because you couldn’t try any more. Because you found the task that could not be checked off. Because you discovered you were needy.

And joy comes later. After the need. Within the need. When the performance is over and the truth is spread out and that truth is your only offering. Because you cannot read your Bible or pray. You cannot be good or bold. You cannot share the faith you hardly know how to hold.

It turns out delighting isn’t a task. It’s an experience. It’s not even a choice. It’s a result of something else, something already there. We receive grace because we need it. We find life because we receive grace.

It turns out joy is there for the taking. There are no trophies here. There is no performance. There is only God.

God who fills the need and makes it Enough.

 

 

Photo Credit:  at Flickr Die entwicklungsländer müssen, unterstützt von den projektmanagement hausarbeit reichen staaten, die bedingungen schaffen, die es den familien ermöglichen, ihre kinder ausbilden und lernen zu lassen, ohne dass dadurch ihr lebensunterhalt gefährdet ist