Grounded ‘Til I’m 21
I’m not sure about you, friend, but I can remember many an hour that I spent in the isolated world called “grounded”. Modern mathematics simply cannot add up that many hours in order to give you some outlandish total, but trust me, friend, it’s big.
It wasn’t that I was a “bad kid” or completely rebellious, even. I don’t even have any juicy stories about my racy younger years to share with you. I could make some up, but let’s be honest, this post will be long enough on its own – so let’s just keep it real here.
For me, a true sanguine personality, being grounded was bru-tal. Seriously, it was torture, people. For those of you not familiar with the four personality types, a sanguine is generally described as being friendly and approachable, inspirational to others, very relationship oriented, genuinely liking people, and perennially optimistic. (Whew! If that doesn’t describe me, I don’t know what does!) So…as you read over these description of how God made me, can you see how solitary life in my bedroom and absolutely no contact with the outside world for more than like five minutes could be likened to having your toenails pulled out one by one? Ya, me too.
Things were no different in my educational world. I spent a great deal of time in detention during my schooling years. Generally, it was not too bad for me. Rarely was I the only kid in detention, therefore it was somewhat of a social event in and of itself, really. But, if the teacher, for some reason had extended grace to everyone but me on that particular day, and then, God forbid, required me to copy sentences from the chalkboard for half an hour while she left the room…then ladies and gentlemen, that is grounded – same feeling, just different location.
You see, I wasn’t one of those kids who couldn’t be trusted alone in a classroom. I was just one of those kids who couldn’t be trusted to stay quiet in a classroom– like, ever. I honestly don’t think I meant disrespect. I just love people and I love talking. But, generally, that didn’t fit well into the lesson plans the teacher had. So, my school days were, how shall I say, “extended”, more often than not. I will admit, however, that I got to know some of my favorite teachers in detention. It was a great time for me to ask all about their families, their college years, etc. Two of them even came to my wedding. J
Anyway, my parents, doing the best they could, quickly found that using grounding as my punishment generally hurt the worst, and therefore worked the best. Spanking? Nah – not so much. I no sooner felt the belt leave my backside, before I’d give my Dad a hug, wipte the lone tear, and say “Can I have some ice cream tonight?”
But, grounding, yep, that did it. For the most part, it got my attention and I straightened up quickly. For the most part.
I am sure there were many times (May I repeat…many, many times) when my folks and/or teachers thought they would actually follow through with the threat to ground me ‘til I was twenty-one.
Well, friend, I have had that very same “grounded” feeling quite a bit lately, and I couldn’t pass for a twenty-one year old to a ninety-one-year-old blind man.
Due to the nature of my illness, in the past two years, I have spent more weeks flat on my couch alone than I have out in the beautiful, open world surrounded by people. Again, may I request that you read my personality description above…this doesn’t fit well with me.
God and I have talked about it quite a bit. (Understatement of the century)
I have no idea why He has allowed me to endure this for what seems like so long. I can’t help but look at my precious third child, who is two years old now, and be reminded that this has been going on for most of her sweet, baby life. It breaks my heart sometimes.
I have been grounded from driving my car.
I have been grounded from going out on a date.
I have been grounded from church functions.
I have been grounded from athletics.
I have been grounded from doing so many other things that I never knew I’d miss so much.
And I am stinkin’ thirty-two years old here, people. What could I have done that deserves this kind of punishment?
I know that for sure. Because this isn’t punishment.
Although I “feel” like I have been grounded, I know in my heart, that I am not actually grounded. I do not believe that God got tired of my constant talking and therefore banished me to the couch until further notice. He doesn’t work that way.
But, ooohhhh, wasn’t that the worst tactic ever? Did you folks ever do that? They told you that you were grounded but put no end date to it? This was a scheme that I used to think should be flat out illegal, but I somewhat understand it now. I remember asking my Mom why she couldn’t just tell me when the grounding would be over. She said “The point of the punishment is not for you to be counting the days until you are “free” of it. The point is that we will be watching to see when you are ready to be ungrounded. We will wait and look for a change in you.”
Friend, I have such a long way to go. I mean it – we are talking light years here. But, I feel pretty confident that God has seen some heart change in me throughout these last couple of difficult years. I know I’ve seen it. I know I’ve felt it. I pray I’ve displayed it.
But, you know what’s ironic? Even though I haven’t felt like it, I’ve technically been “ungrounded” for a few weeks now. Let me explain.
I had yet another spinal fluid leak just 10 short weeks ago, leaving me flat, once again. I quickly had a procedure to “fix” it and have been slowly recovering ever since. I was forced to lie flat most of every day for a few weeks after that. But, then, I started to get up more and more and live my newly adjusted life again. It hasn’t been easy, trust me. But, as far as the “feeling” of being grounded from all the life that I missed all those months and months flat on my couch – I guess I am free. Sort of.
I’ve been doing some real soul-searching lately about what all of this really means to me. This medical drama has been a huge life-altering detour that neither I, nor my loved ones expected or asked for. But, we have, thankfully, handled it ok thus far. But, now…here I am trying to get back into the swing of things, and I find that “feeling” of being grounded rising up in me again. Once again, let me explain.
Now that I have been taking on more of the tasks and responsibilities that I haven’t been physically able to bear for so long, I am finding that I have no time left for me. I haven’t written a blog, or a devotional or anything in a month. I rarely get to be alone. I am exhausted all the time. I don’t get down time. I don’t sleep well because my body hurts so much from the activity that has been required of it lately. I spend all that I have in me just doing the bare minimum of what it takes to keep my children fed, clothed and transported to school on time. So, what I have left is flat. out. nothing.
I can’t even bring myself to wake up early and do my quiet time that I grew to love. It was just me and my God, before anyone else was awake or asking anything of me. I spent so much time digging in His Word, seeking meanings of words, comparing translations and just simply taking time to “eat all the meat” if you know what I mean. Since I’ve been “better”, I feel that I have just enough time to gulp down a “God-energy-shake” on my way out the door.
Ugh. This is tough to confess to you all right now…just so you know.
Why? I guess because I have some warped sense of what I feel I need to portray to everyone. That I am always strong. That I am spending hours in Bible study each day. That my marriage is amazing and my kids are perfect. That my thoughts are pure and my deeds are purer.
Friend, it just isn’t true.
I have found myself complaining in my head about having to do so many of the very things that I longed so desperately to be able to do just a few short months ago. Isn’t that awful? (The answer is yes.)
I have been asked countless times over the last few weeks, why I haven’t been on facebook more, why I haven’t been posting on my blog, etc. The answer is simple.
I have nothing left.
I take so seriously what I write about. I don’t want it to ever be just about me. I want it to come from Him. And, friend, I haven’t been soaking up enough of Him to last me that much. I read His Word, listen to Truths in songs sung about Him, but I drain so easily now amidst this beautiful life of mine, that I simply have nothing left.
Today I decided to lay down my pride and come back to you. I want to share that I, too, have seasons in my life where I feel closer to God than I do the clothes on my own body. But, this time, I want you to hear that I also have times in my life where He seems to me, to just be the brilliant light I see in every starry night, and just as far away.
But, I love Him. So desperately I love Him. I want to honor Him with my days here on earth. I am so very thankful for the last two years of medical drama, I honestly have no words to explain. I have grown to know Him well enough to know that He’s right here. Anytime and every time. He never changes. He can’t be anything but faithful. And He is worthy of our time, our energy, our efforts, our praise, our priority, our everything.
Maybe you didn’t spend a lot of time physically in time out, being grounded, or in detention in your growing up years. Good for you. For me, not so much. But even if you escaped the actual punishment type feeling that those events would evoke in your formative years…I can assure you, if you really think about it, most of us can relate to it as adults.
And no, you don’t have to necessarily be banished to your couch for months at a time to feel that way.
Maybe you feel grounded at work? Day after day, week after week working your tail off. Staying late. Arriving early. Only to watch others receive the praise and promotions you feel you deserve. You feel you might as well move your desk to the corner where it belongs.
Or maybe it is your marriage? You see each other daily, but do you really see each other? Things have changed so much since you said “I Do.” Most days you just feel like “I don’t.” and therefore, you don’t. And they don’t. And time passes, kids grow, finances strain what little you have until you feel like you are both sitting with your nose in the corner – and you aren’t even in the same corner anymore.
Or maybe it is just you. The skin covering your body are the walls of your grounding. You don’t like the way you look. Maybe you really never have. Your thoughts are rarely positive anymore, but the smile is plastered on your face, because you are a good Christian and should be smiling…right? You wonder what you are really offering the world? What impact you are really making, after all? “Oh, if I could just be like her.” you think to yourself. Life would be so much better. So, you look at the world all around you…from your corner you’ve built for yourself…and wish you were just somebody else.
I don’t know why you have ever felt grounded, friend. But, I bet you have. I know I have.
Can I tell you something great? Ok, maybe a few something(s) great!
God loves you. (John 3:16)
He made everything. (Isaiah 40:28)
He made you. (Psalm 139:13)
He knows every single little thing about you. (Luke 12:7)
The good…and the bad. (Hebrews 4:13)
And yet, He still loves you. (Romans 5:8) (That boggles my mind, but it is true.)
He is not tempting you to do wrong. (James 1:13)
In fact, he is pretty clear about wanting you to do good! (James 4:17)
Yet, He loves you, even when you don’t. (1 John 1:9)
And not only that, but He really does have a great plan for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Yes, YOU! Not just me, or your skinny sister-in-law, or your brilliant co-worker…YOU!
Even when you don’t “feel” it – He is there.
Even when you don’t feel like it – He is there.
Even when you don’t feel worthy – He is there.
He can handle it all.
I heard recently something that encouraged me and I pray it does the same for you. Do you remember when Moses was questioning God’s command (and maybe His sanity)? Moses didn’t feel like He had the right to go tell anyone anything…especially not in God’s name. God gave him the answer above all answers.
Moses: “Me? What!?! What am I gonna say when I get there? They’re gonna want to know who sent me”
God: “I AM WHO I AM” “You just tell them that.”
That is the same God we serve today. And all grammar rules aside, friend, I can assure you…
HE STILL “AM”!!!
I don’t know about you, but I am more than thankful for that!