bricks over manna

Yesterday I sat down to read for a bit in the afternoon.  The bed was stripped bare and the sheets were in the wash.  The iPad was dying, so I laid there on the edge of the naked mattress so my “book” wouldn’t lose power.

As I propped myself up on my elbows to read, I realized that this was the first time I’d relaxed in weeks.  The first time I’d stilled myself in the waking hours to do something that isn’t on my to-do list.

No, I usually spend my days in some whirlwind combination of these things: kids activities, writing, making rag rugs, cleaning, laundry, networking, trying to get steps on my pedometer, managing social media, going to work, or cooking.

As I dance this frenzied rhythm across our carpet, my head plays a rhythm of:

I could do better
I could do more
I’m still not as _____ as ______ is.

This ties in pretty heavily to the smack in the face I’ve had recently about grace… in which I’m learning that I struggle with it because I have none to give, no reservoirs to rest in.

I don’t give myself a moment’s grace during the day.  Rather, I produce and clean and make and do from the moment my feet hit the floor until the second I fall into bed exhausted.

And my last thoughts are… “how did I manage to leave so much undone? …. I’ll do better tomorrow.” 

I base my worth and evaluate the success of a day by what I’ve accomplished.

I believe that I have something to prove, that I have to earn the time I’ve been given through a frenzy of activity.   That I’m only worth what I produce in a day… or what percentage of my to-do list I manage to check off.

But we’re supposed to work hard six days and rest one, right?  Keep a pace that proves to God that we’re using our talents for his glory?

Wait no… we’re not supposed to prove anything.  We’re just supposed to glorify with our lives, which probably shouldn’t come with stress and frenzy, right?

I know I’d hate to see my own child broken down in a heap from trying too hard to stick to what I’d asked her to do.  That would break my heart.  Is this how God’s feeling about my busy attempts to earn my keep?   

Surely God laments the fact that I’m only comfortable when I’m earning my keep.

The problem comes when I don’t feel like I’m earning it.  When a tension builds between what I have and what I’ve earned, when the scale tips in favor of grace and mercy… I get anxious.

trees and grace

The other day I was on a phone meeting with a friend and co-worker in Oregon and he brought it all back to the Old Testament.

When the Israelites sat complaining in their camp as manna rained down from heaven and quail was delivered to their camp like pepperoni pizza.

And the soles of their shoes never wore out.

God saw to it all before they could ask for or earn it.

But there they sat, chilling in the dessert with no work, bread raining from heaven and longing to be back in the days of brick building.

Longing to be back in the days of slavery and that “just one more brick” lifestyle.

Because, doesn’t it seem easier to count your worth in bricks rather than trust in the blood and love of a God who is beyond understanding?

Who offers provision and peace through prayer and not through the labor of our hands?

It’s easier for me.  Grace and Mercy are hard.  

We’re supposed to work, toil, use our gifts and talents passionately… to glorify him through a life of healthy rhythm … not to prove that we’re worth the love and grace He is delivering to our doorsteps… like quail… and gluten free pizza.

I need an inner monologue makeover, to still and read, rest and just frigging “be” for a little while.

To take a sabbath where I lock up the laundry and put down the computer in favor of a book and a cup of tea.

Or close my eyes in the sunlight and open them to millions of leaves dancing 100 feet above my head.

I still need to figure out grace.
To believe that receiving manna is far better than celebrating another crappy, dried out brick.

This balance is a beautiful mess that I have to surrender to…. before it’s too late for my heart and hands.

Do you struggle with this balance of busy and grace?  Of finding yourself unworthy of manna and shoes you’ve clearly not earned?  Always counting your worth in bricks, wondering if you’ll ever breathe grace?

  • Lisa K

    What a great realization.

  • Zaankali

    So much of this post speaks to me. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Leanne Penny

      So glad you’ve tuned in then. Such. A. Hard. Lesson, eh?

  • Michelle Woodman

    Oh, I struggle with grace and not being lazy and finding balance and inner monologues like the dickens some (many) days. I’ve been trying to take a proper sabbath more regularly (and without guilt). I’m getting there.

    This also makes me think of something I heard at a conference a couple of weeks ago: We need to learn to say daily “It is good”. There has to be a point at the end of the day where regardless of the things that are left to do work-wise, it is good enough. We need to leave all that stuff and connect with God, with our families, and refresh our souls. It can get better tomorrow. :-)

    • Leanne Penny

      Yes to that practice! Must implement. Love.

  • Mark Allman

    I think too often I measure my worth in if I am affecting someone’s life or not. Sometimes I work hard to do things I think people will appreciate and if they do I feel “worthy”.

  • Jessica Rozga-Deboni

    Oh my – your words could be my autobiography.

    It’s not that I necessarily struggle with grace, feeling unworthy of manna and shoes, but that I notice the manna, recognize it falling and audibly say to God, “One moment! I have bread in the oven, laundry to fold, weeds to pick, tomatoes to preserve, tushes to wipe, cheeks to kiss and… wait, I haven’t even taken a shower yet!”

    It’s the intentional recognition of my lack of willingness to be still and receive the manna that I struggle with. Which may all be attached to feeling worthy of receiving grace, huh?

    All thoughts to continue throughout the day.

    Thank you.

  • Brenda W.

    I struggle with this constantly. Weirdly enough, I wrote a similar post yesterday, but it didn’t end in grace and mercy as yours do because I don’t even get there most of the time. Thank you for these reminders!

  • Andrew Gilmore

    I tend to lean (heavily) toward achievements. If I don’t achieve much in a day I feel bad about myself.

    Reminds of Gideon when God told him to take fewer men into battle so that they would know that victory came from God alone. May we all be more like Gideon.

  • kt_writes

    I have to laugh—I’ve had this post open in a tab for two weeks, but have been “too busy” (or too something) to get to it. But I’m glad I did! I especially love this: “…the smack in the face I’ve had recently about grace… in which I’m
    learning that I struggle with it because I have none to give, no
    reservoirs to rest in.”