I don’t know why my kids call them that. Peanut Butter Jellies. I can’t remember ever saying that but it is definitely within the realm of possibilities that in a hurried moment of answering a firing squad of questions, I inadvertently renamed an American classic.
Recently, a group of people from my church went on a 10 day mission trip to Germany. Among those that went, were my mom, dad, little (18-year-old) brother and best friend. While my parents were gone, I kept my three youngest siblings (17, 12 & 9). If you’re quick with numbers (or you got more than 3 hours of sleep), you will recognize that this brought me to a grand total of 6 children. Heavens to Betsy. That is a lot of little humans to keep alive.
The days went by quickly and mostly without issue. Obviously, there were fights to be refereed and meals to be prepared. I said “Please stop talking and go to sleep” more times than I can count. I helped brush many molars and picked up millions of wet towels. All in all though, it was awesome. As we neared the end of their time here, I felt really great about the days we spent together and got to share real, tangible love with them (which is harder to do since I am so much older and we don’t live in the same household anymore). I was thankful.
Fast-forward to today (Sunday), the day after they went home. Last night was ROUGH. My middle little woke up at 3am. 3am, y’all. He was wide awake, too. That kind of awake where he’s convinced it is morning and the sun just forgot to “wake up”. He finally crashes at 7am and I go back to bed for an hour before we have to get up to get ready for church. We missed Sunday School. There was no was middle little or I was going to be able to function for that, so we rushed and made it to the main service (on time too! *pats self on back*).
As the service is starting, it literally feels like they are saying “Germany” every other word. The entire message was basically referencing Germany and things that the Pastor had seen there or things that God had shown him while he was there. I was taking notes, as I usually do, when I catch myself feeling a feeling that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. If you knew me personally, you would know that I’m not an exceptionally emotional person. My emotional MO is fake it till you make it. Stuff it down. Deal with it yourself and talk yourself rationally out of whatever feeling you’re feeling that you don’t want to feel. I’m weird, I know. Jesus is working on me and that’s exactly what He
was doing is doing today. I was wrestling to identify this feeling and came to the realization that I already knew what it was, I just didn’t want to admit it because it was pretty terrible.
*Gulp* What in the world?! I sat there attempting to reason with myself. Trying to talk myself out of it. The Holy Spirit was tugging at my heart. “Dig deeper,” He nudged, “there’s more to this that what you see on the surface.”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Here I was, feeling great about the past week and a half and stupid old flesh me just HAD to ruin it. I hate doing emotional work (as in processing ones own emotions). HATE IT. Yet here I am, in the middle of a church service, doing just that. As I began to “unpack” those emotions, I realized that I was feeling envious of their fire. Those that went seem to have come back 110% dedicated and 110% ready to serve. I wanted that. I wanted to feel refreshed and tired, all at the same time and all in the best way. I wanted to have grand memories of watching kids and teenagers surrender their lives to Jesus. I wanted to be a part of that and I wanted that fire. It was like that Germany trip was gasoline doused on their hearts. An explosion of love and humility. An ignition of servant’s hearts and warrior’s prayers. I was happy for them. I am happy for them, but for some reason, it hurt.
As I sat there, numbly taking notes and talking with God, I felt it. A peace. A calm. God didn’t allow my fire to be doused. He didn’t provide gasoline or fire works. He gave me kindling. With every bowl of cereal poured, every Peanut Butter Jelly made, He was stoking my fire. Every time I prayed for wisdom and patience to break up another fight (or to revoke fidget spinner privileges again), he was giving oxygen to my flame.
There is something beautiful in not experiencing that “spiritual high”. In the slow, steady burn of relying on Christ in the day-to-day, “mundane” of life. In Jesus putting some fresh wood on that fire, which looks like it just might choke out the flame, when He swoops in with some pine needles and blows on that bad boy, showing me againthat Jesus is just as good in the bonfire, as He is in the birthday candle. Fire is fire, y’all and Jesus knows my heart. Ugly and disappointing as it was this morning, He knew it.
All that to say, in this season of life, I want to choose to be thankful for that kindling and not jonesing for that gasoline. I want to pray over every one of those Peanut Butter Jellies. I want to thank Jesus for the chance to be a world-changer, even if the only world I ever get to “change” is that of my children and those in my itty bitty town. Don’t get me wrong, I still want that fire and foreign missions is something I would love to do, but I want it on HIS time. In HIS way. I want to be as excited to show the love of Jesus to that Wal-Mart cashier, as that group was to show it to the Germans.
This post was a hot mess express, but it was real. It was raw. It was painfully honest. That’s where Jesus does His best work. In my ugly. So stay tuned, because I’ve got plenty of it.
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:15-20