That’s my response to something when it ruins me. Could be good or bad. The idea is that it elicits such a strong response I must euphemistically use profanity.
Today, on my backyard patio, I think I said this word aloud, to my retrieving chocolate labrador, as I finished up my study on the spiritual fruit of goodness.
Goodness, as it turns out, is not just some passive form of badness or evil’s opposite. Goodness, if one goes back to the original Greek (wow, I sound like a New Testament scholar now, I’m not) implies characterized energy, or in other words, according to the fine research done by Mrs. Beth Moore, goodness is active.
An example in today’s study was the “active” goodness that the various servants employed in the parable of the talents. Those who were rewarded with “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” “actively” looked for good ways to invest and multiply the talents they were given based on their abilities, the text says. And so, because of their faithfulness, their Master also welcomed them into His joy and entrusted them with more.
Ok, nice, cool. Yea, I grew up in church, I remember Christian school chapels about this nice little story of the parable of the talents when I was a kid. I get it. Move on, Beth. Move on. Oh, she did.
“With this question: Are you doing too many things to do any ONE thing well for Christ? If so, what can you do about it?”
FREAK. There’s my quintessential current dilemma. I spent the last school year working two jobs (one of those jobs involved three jobs really and was the hardest year I’ve had yet in my career), getting over a break up, meeting the man of my dreams I hope to marry, becoming involved in my community group, doing some light editing for my church, planning and taking some fun vacays, and overall, just trying to survive. Now, summer is here and I’m just trying to recover the pieces of me that are left after all the collisions, both good and bad, and all the burnout that’s realer now than it’s ever been. And I’ve been left to wonder, what can stay in my life for this next year that promises so many dreams fulfilled, and what needs to go? And all of this, as my roommate so aptly put it, “At what cost?”
To be more specific, my current question is, “Jesus, do you want me to keep second job next year when school starts again? Because, well you know I have some fun and exciting, but expensive ventures up ahead this year, and you know I have credit card debt, and you know I don’t like to lose control of my finances. But Jesus, you know I also want to love people in my community group so much better, and I want to be the kind of teacher I feel like I was my first three years when I loved my kids fiercely and took joy in being their Lo-Lo, and you know, you know I want to love my man with all the Happy Becka I can give him. So, how would you have me proceed?” The world would tell me I’m crazy to give up a second income when this next year only holds super costly events for me. I would even tell myself to suffer 8 more weeks of a draining second job in order to feel more prepared to handle those expenses. But at what cost? Can I then do any of these things well?
As if that slap in the face wasn’t enough, the next question in the study, the last for the day.
“In what ways can you ‘guard the trust’ God has given you personally?
FREAK. FREAK. FREAK.
And after the understated replacement cuss word, this is all I’ve got.
Perhaps the things I’m doing that deplete my energy and “active” goodness and are not producing any kind of Kingdom good need to go so that the things that do produce Kingdom good can be multiplied.
Sure. God has given me intelligence and the gift of education and the ability to multi-task, and given me the gift of teaching, and of enjoying lots of people, even the teenaged ones. He’s made me a fast editor, and a natural writer. He’s given me a godly man, and incredible friends and community. But, I’m not investing in any of these “talents,” as well as I could be, because I’ve been investing in ones that don’t pay the right kind of dividends. And I’ve let that exhaust my “goodness.” I don’t use second job to advance any kind of ministry; I use it simply to get ahead financially. And while that is not wrong in and of itself, perhaps some other things would fall into place, and the joy of the Master would be restored for me, if I multiplied those things that have eternal value – like my high school kids, and my family, and my community group, and my Zac.
I bring this up tonight because a.) it HIT ME with a lot of weight. The timing was just too real. Just yesterday Lizzy (roommate) sat across the breakfast table from me and asked, “Becka, but at what cost?” And then, this afternoon, I discussed it with another close friend. Uncanny the timing. Also, because b.) God often speaks to me most through both my writing and through the advice and confirmation from others. So, please, by all means, speak to me, if you have thoughts.
I don’t want to look back on the next year and wish I had invested differently. Multiplication of Kingdom stuff is what matters; all else is, ultimately, vanity. But that is a hard pill to swallow when all you want to do is take your one talent and bury it for fear you’ll lose control of it somehow.