Calm hearts (in which I consider Psalm 131, contentment, and the sins of self)

Do we trust like this? (Photo: CKirgiss)
(Photo: CKirgiss)
Contented calm is not my natural status quo. I fret. I worry. I fuss. I fume. I meddle. I creep my fingers into the very middle of things and discreetly (or not) try to move the players and control the outcomes. That kind of life, as some of you may know, is an exhausting killer of joy, love, peace, relationships, trust, grace, and hope. Life itself becomes both a dead and deadly thing.

I do not want to live a dead and deadly life, or be the exhausted killer of all good things. So contented calm is one of my deepest desires, and has been for many years. Pursuing it is a long and painful process requiring penitent prayer, sacrificial surrender, and a willingness to embrace humility as one of the highest virtues of life in Christ. Repentance, sacrifice, surrender, and humility are as entirely unnatural for me as contented calm.

In other words: this process has high potential for total failure and minimal possibility for significant life-change. Except for the fact that I follow a powerful, forgiving, and transforming Savior. Otherwise, contented calm would be the least likely of fairy-tale endings for my life (and “they all – every single one of them –  lived contentedly calm” is a much better ending than “they all – meaning the prince and princess – lived happily ever after).

I want to be a Psalm 131 child (so much more than I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman, I confess). I want the Psalmist’s words to be a true description of me:

LORD, my heart is not proud (I do not presume that its motives are pure – I’ve dug down deep and seen the rot);

My eyes are not haughty (I know that I am not better or higher than other people – though I’ve often believed and behaved otherwise). 

[Note to self: a proud heart and haughty eyes are not just a “thing” to be worked on; cf. Proverbs 21:4.]

I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp (in other words, I don’t play God because, Lord knows, every time I switch into control mode and try to orchestrate things to my own liking, it turns out badly. FOR EVERYONE. EVERYTIME.)

INSTEAD (an unexpectedly profound lexical marker of transformation)

I have calmed and quieted myself (not by my own power, to be sure, but by my own willingness to be shaped and molded and humbled by the Almighty God and Loving Father),

like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk (nothing against nursing-on-demand, something of which I’m a big fan – but a weaned child has moved beyond the need for immediate gratification and comfort).

Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

[Note to self: we never outgrow being a weaned child, even when we have weaned children of our own. Weird.]

O Israel (and you too, Crystal)

put your hope in the LORD (not in money, success, fame, appearance, or really smart dead British authors)

now (this very day, this very moment)

and always (you know…ALL THE TIME).

Amen. And amen. Oh dear God – please let this be true of me.

***What are the traits of a content and discontent child – of any age – that can help you understand the deep truth of what the Psalmist is saying? For example: content children are trusting, know how to share, and enjoy discovering new things. Discontent children quickly become angry, are demanding, and often withdraw. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these lists – add your own words or phrases in the comments.

NYC closets

In case you haven’t heard, you’ll soon be able to rent 300-square-foot apartments in New York City.

Yep – that’s tiny.

Not as tiny as the 112-square-foot cabin we recently stayed in near the Grand Canyon.

Not as tiny as our 125-square-foot spare bedroom.

Not even as tiny as the new 280-square-foot Studio 6 extended-stay motel rooms.

But still, 300 square feet is pretty tiny.

According to a July 12 Business Insider article, the new apartments will be about the size of a large walk-in closet. Uh huh. You read that right. Apparently, somewhere in this world there are people who have walk-in closets bigger than most people’s living rooms. I’ve seen those closets in movies, but thought they were only as real as the Death Star. Or Hogwarts.

I grew up with sliding-door closets, the kind that allowed you to see only half the contents at a time. If you happened to share the closet with a sibling, good luck with that. Still, they were good training for the closet my husband and I shared in our first home, a cute little single-wide planted in the middle of a mobile home park.

Our first raise-a-family house, circa 1930s, had typical closets of that era – little nooks, tucked into the farthest corner of the bedrooms, that provided just enough space for one person’s clothes and shoes if you were willing to store them in vacuum-sealed plastic bags stacked floor to ceiling, sardine style.

Our current house has folding-door closets, the kind that allow you to see all the contents at once. (My, we’ve come a long way.) It also has a 30-square-foot walk-in closet that nearly took my breath away when I first saw it. “Why, I could practically live in this if I had to,” was my first thought.

Which of course is ridiculous because it would take at least ten of those closets to equal one of the tiny new NYC apartments. So I guess it really is all about perspective. Whatever that means.