fence me in

Monday, May 28, 2012

This old house’s door creaks loudly as I try to silently enter the little girl sanctuary of sleepiness. The room is lit up like noonday. (Because you know what’s better than one nightlight? Three.) The very air expands and retracts with the deep in and out of my baby’s breath. I round the corner to peer over the edge of her crib; she is squished against the rails with her blankie, her baby, and Curious George. Even at two, she still loves her bed. She could climb out so easily if she wanted, yet she chooses to stay enclosed. Security is found within the four sides.

The first few weeks after they moved in – I would walk into that very same room, when it housed our boys instead of our girls, to an empty bottom bunk. I’d find our son squeezed in the fifteen inches between the bottom rail of the bed and the wall. Safety was not found in our home until he clearly understood where the walls were, until he knew that we had boundaries here to keep him safe.

One of the first things I learned as a parent is how well children respond to boundaries. They push against them, complain about them, and yet, they are most at peace when kept within them. A teenager in one of the youth groups my husband and I led once told me that she wished her parents would just give her more rules. She didn’t imply it. She didn’t dance around it. She flat out said she wanted more rules. She felt unloved. She felt uncared for. She wanted the safety and security of parental fences.

Given all this, it’s a little ironic that these past couple weeks, I’ve found myself chafing against the boundaries in my own life. I look at the perceived freedom in someone else’s life, and I want that for my own. I feel like if I didn’t have these specific fences in my life – my own four walls, my body, my family, my calling – well, if some of those things were changed or moved, then I would be happier. Then I would wouldn’t be straining against the edges. Things would be easier, less complicated. I wouldn’t be complaining anymore.

I’m neglecting to recognize that true security comes with boundaries. I fail to remember that I feel most safe within the fences God has in place for me. The edges of my life aren’t to keep me captive, but to give me freedom.

We are grieving for an incarcerated family member right now – the very evidence of what happens when we fail to respect the boundaries and fences in our lives. If I’m honest, I have to admit to myself that I, too, need fences. I need the security of having boundaries in my life. It’s not about rules; it often just looks like life circumstances. These are the facts of my life, but these are also the very things that give my life the margin I need. The things that hem me in. That give me purpose and joy and contentment, should I recognize it.

Many years ago, I learned a verse while sitting in a stranger’s living room (for BSF’s fellowship week – if you’re not familiar, I realize it sounds weird. It kind of is.):

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Psalm 16:5-6

I really didn’t identify with this verse then, but what is fascinating is the fact that when I typed that verse out just now I didn’t have to look up the words. I knew them by heart. Even though I did not understand what that meant for my life that sunny Texas afternoon that I first heard that passage, God planted that seed in my heart for this very time in my life. More than a decade later, God’s Word is rooted in me. Alive and active.

Today, when I need it most, I know in my heart: God alone is all I need. He alone makes me secure. It’s not about where I live, what my health is like, what my family looks like, how my family behaves, or even the good things I’m doing (or not doing) in my life. It’s about God. Even though my feelings fail me, and I’m overcome with jealousy and doubt, His boundary lines for me are in good places. I have a delightful inheritance.

past 1000, still counting:
1037. a lesser sentence
1038. grace and mercy
1039. a praying husband
1040. circling the wagons
1041. reaching out
1042. children who not only love, but also pray
1043. last day of school
1044. my children’s morning journals – the reading of which is my absolute favorite time of year
1045. the last time the older two run into the door as a first grader and a fourth grader
1046. clean carpets
1047. to-go lunches for a long trip to family
1048. contented crawling baby, so very glad to be home
1049. sleeping in, even for twenty minutes
1050. online TV shows, allowing me to catch up on shows that I can’t normally watch
1051. upstairs air conditioners
1052. graduation parties
1053. showering all three littles quickly and easily
1054. clean smelling hair, kisses goodnight, sweet sleep
1055. the Body
1056. laughing at ourselves, finding humor in tragedy
1057. an evening of ‘tapas’ with my sisters

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