To What Measure?

For the last month, Elaine noticed a growing irritation within herself. It came in tiny waves at first, burning the quinoa, failing to exercise, but over time the waves progressively got bigger and the force was crushing. She was frustrated with her limits.

Finances. Marriage. Friendships. Family. Teaching.

You see, Elaine is a measurer. Time is measured in seconds and hours. Her recipes are measured in cups and liters. Her worth is measured and determined by the world’s standards of success, smarts, or looks. Her days are measured by sunlight and her nights by moonlight. She is measurable. And that was the root of her irritation.

Paycheck to paycheck measured her limit for food, clothing, heat. Marriage consisted of fruitful times and hard, difficult times. The measure was the season that her and her husband, two imperfect people, found themselves fighting together in. Friendships are measured by investment or distance. Get-togethers and fellowship measure the closeness of family. Grades and lesson plans measure how much she would teach kids in one year or one day. Seasons are measured by snow, leaves, heat, and flowers. Her cell phone plan was measured by how much she paid per month. The car’s length of travel was measured by the amount of gas resting in the tank.

Everything in her life was measured. She was limited. Her focus impaired.

Elaine was suffocating from trying to cover up the rotten feelings reeking in her heart. Normal comments were met with disdain and hurt. Insecurity was on a rampage. Comparison blared in her ears everywhere she looked. Expectations took a dangerous turn. They were unmet and unreasonable which caused a bitter unhappiness.

Sometimes she covered the disgusted feelings with silence, media, or Netflix. Other times her tongue completely let loose and started a fire with her biting sarcastic comments towards family and friends.

She needed help, but help involved people hearing her story, her secret sins, her failures. She would be known and the practice of appearing “put together by patches”, that were tightly sown, would be torn, frayed. She would have to ask for God’s wisdom and strength, again.

Recently, the storm Stella decided to make her grand appearance by dumping her royal pounds of white fluff across the entire landscape of Northeast PA. For those of you reading from the southern states or those who weren’t affected by Stella, let me tell you that she threw many merciless, frigid blows.  

School closed for four days and Elaine, like many people, felt trapped. Thirty-three inches. Is this a joke? The soft blue walls of her home used to resemble warmth and comfort but with the mountain of snow burying her car and house she rapidly became the sweat-panted female behind the bars to her own personal prison cell. She couldn’t escape.

The time that was normally filled with teaching kids or grading papers was quickly filled with snow shoveling, piecing puzzles together, and drinking mounds of coffee. The man-made prison cell became claustrophobic, stifling life.

To make matters worse her relationship with her husband produced a little friction over the last month. Was it his fault? No, he was just the perfect source to release the tension or the lucky winner to pass the blame on, I guess. It was an awful thing to do, but her heart was blinded by paralyzing feelings of fear. Her best friend just became another obstacle.

Her focus was on her limits, her measures. Her focus was on other’s limits and measures. Truth be told because she was zeroed in on destroying her limits, she forgot about her limitless God. Her immeasurable God.

Elaine is me. I am limited. I am known. My focus has been consumed with the struggle of keeping my fears covered, being considered weak, being measured. I can’t do it all and it frustrates me. That’s why in Hebrews, faith isn’t defined as things you can see, do, and predict. Faith is believing in what you cannot see, believing that God will do as He wills and will care for me as He has promised.

From the beginning of the Old Testament to the end of the New Testament I have been given promises of His provision and care.  Promises like He will never leave me nor forsake me” (Deuteronomy 3:16), “His grace is sufficient for me” (I Corinthians 12:9), “You can come boldly before the throne” (Hebrews 4:16), or “I sacrificed my only Son for you, how much more than will I freely give you other things?”  (Romans 8:32) are laced with mercy, grace, and power. These things can only be promised if He is immeasurable. They are all encompassing.

My humble reminder is that He is not measured. He is not limited. He is mighty. He is powerful. He is in control. He is a refuge. (Isaiah 25:4)

I was choking on my own pride, my own strength. I was suffocated with my own expectations and lack of control. When my limits are pointed out, I remember that I am measurable and God is not. What a freeing statement. The bars opened. The room no longer stuffy. The pressure released.

The tendency to try and pretend to be immeasurable is still there. I can promise there will be another attempt for gripping power. I will in some time be taking another swing at control. What about you? Are you discouraged? Is your heart entangled with your failures and insecurities? Take it to the one who promises to give you grace to help in your time of need. My conclusion is this:

Every day you need His grace, therefore; every day you are in need.

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