Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living


I am excited about going to work. For the first time in sixteen months, teachers are engaging with students in-person solely. No virtual learning. No simultaneous instruction. No “Wait. You’re on mute.” We finally have the chance to get back to the schooling we do best while bringing along with us the lessons we have learned along this taxing journey.

Daily, I pop out of bed with a sense of urgency to get into the building, readying for the day in a flash. Nightly, I crash into the bed, sleeping a hard, exhausted slumber. Every day we hit the ground running, knowing that while we have new awarenesses and new strategies, we have some old stuff that just needs to be fixed, too. Stuff that just wasn’t working before the pandemic that we either ignored, dismissed, pushed to a back burner, or never even realized. My passion, idealism, and detail-oriented planning are bursting from the seams, and I’m expecting so much more from myself and my teachers, knowing more clearly now how vital we are to our school community.

But something’s missing. I haven’t spent my alone time with God.

“Ay yo I’m slippin‘”

The go, go, go of my work week raided my family time. Sure, I braided hair on Monday and Tuesday nights, but I can’t recall having one meaningful conversation with my kids all week. I don’t know what has been going on in their lives the last 5 days, and I can count at least two days where I have not actually laid eyes on my oldest child. I’ve fussed about the kitchen needing to be cleaned. I’ve sent reminder texts about appointments. But here I am, sitting on the couch at the end of the week wondering, “What kind of wife and mother have I been?”

“I’m falling…”

The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for me. I have never before studied so diligently and deeply the Bible. The love, intimacy, and camaraderie between me and my husband has grown exponentially. I have learned more about my kids and spent more time just enjoying being their mother, their confidant, their champion, and their advisor than I ever have. It’s generally been a peaceful, balanced life. So why have I so easily abandoned it?

“I gots to get up…”

I sat across from a friend and colleague at lunch yesterday explaining that God has given us a divine order to our lives. He ought to be the head and our most important priority. Then, comes our husbands and children. Then, comes our work.

So often, we get things twisted. We allow our earthly altruism and service to trump authentic relationship and devotion to God. The more we do that, the more distance we put between us and Him. That allows little compromises, little negotiations, little deviations to creep into our lives. We feel the Holy Spirit’s nudging to get us back in alignment, but we push God away, saying, “I’ll study tonight.” And when night comes, “I’ll get up in the morning and do it.” And when morning comes, “I swear, I’ll do it at lunch time.” Before we know it, we’ve allowed a chasm to form.

To make matters worse, we rationalize the sin of idolizing work: “I’m doing a good thing by making sure that all children have a high quality education.” We may even quote scripture to justify our disobedience: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men…” Yet, we know that sin is anything that separates us from God. And no “good thing” is better than nearness to Him.

When I was a junior or senior in high school, DMX’s “Slippin'” was a hot single on the radio. I experienced none of what he rapped about in that song, but I do know the feeling of recognizing that the path I’m on is one that is leading to my demise. I am so glad that the Holy Spirit has been whispering in my ear all week reminding me of proper priority. I’m so grateful that God has shown me the death spiral I’m slipping into once again. I can get up. I can get out because God is so faithful!

Friend, if there is an idol that you’ve erected or allowed prominence in your life, ask the Holy Spirit to help you tear it down. It doesn’t mean that you quit your job (though it might). It doesn’t mean that you break up with that significant other (though it might). It means that you recognize the sovereignty and majesty of God, placing Him back into proper position in your life, and aligning all other aspects of your life to Him and His will no matter how tough or inconvenient or discomforting it may be. No matter how “good” your intentions are, no matter how “good” your deeds be, if God is not first, most important, and all encompassing, something is wrong.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6: 33, KJV)

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