I’m Leaning In

As the day nears 5pm, our home becomes exponentially louder. Siblings who have had fun all day irritate more easily. “Listening ears” turn to *very* selectively listening ears. Dinner is in half swing and I’ve forgotten to turn on the timer for something in the oven (again). 

On one such evening, my husband exasperatedly walked out of the chaos and into the garage for a hot second of quiet. Who could blame him? 

He returned to my side quickly–crying baby on one of my hips, alternate hand grinding the coffee for the next morning (I often do optional tasks at inopportune times). He said, “I’m leaning in.” And he took our crying daughter from my arms, easing my work.

Our lives are made up of these moments, which make up our days, and weeks and months and years. And I don’t know about you, but one of the last things I’m inclined to do in December 2020 is “lean in.”

It might have been nice to lean in during March and April with funny-true memes going around about it being “the Lentiest Lent I ever Lented.” But here we are in December and boy has the novelty of quarantine time worn off.

I’ve had countless conversations with friends who are just tired– reserves are low, low, low. Folks are running on fumes.

What do we do with our emotional and energetic poverty?

Do we pretend like we are good, hanging on with white-knuckles and fake smiles until this is over? Do we shove our exhaustion down, only to let it unexpectedly explode on those we love? Do we turn inward in pity and forget the larger suffering around us?

During recent prayer time, Jesus showed me a good looking heart. But there was a problem with it. It was covered in armor. When I asked what he desired for me, he began to peel back the armor. I saw a heart of flesh beneath. That raw, reddish-purple flesh of organs. 

My reaction? I told him I was uncomfortable. This kind of vulnerability? Now? After this kind of a year? But, I stayed with him. 

And he peeled off more armor. And I stayed with him.

And then he removed the armor. 

What remained was a heart of flesh. 

I was vulnerable, but I was safe. Vulnerable but loved.

We are almost to Christmas, the Incarnation of God in Jesus. God “taking on flesh” to teach us what it means to have hearts of flesh.

Sit with me for a moment and imagine the physical nature of Jesus’ life. Close your eyes and imagine holding the Christ Child in your arms, running your finger across his soft-as-clouds newborn skin. Imagine holding his little hands as he learned to take steps. Imagine kissing his young boy forehead and blessing him goodnight. Imagine leaning into each other, two adults shoulder-to-shoulder, talking around the dinner table. 

For us to “lean in” is at the heart of the Incarnation. 

We lean in by easing the burden of those with whom we spend daily life. We lean in by calling someone who is lonely or sick, *especially* because it is no longer novel. We lean in by providing food or donations to nonprofits that serve the most vulnerable, or by volunteering our time.

But in order to lean in and embody God’s love to those around us, we must first lean in to the One who shows us how.

We sit with Jesus. We can say, “Help me to sit with you, to lean in to you, to lean in to your love. Show me what you desire for me. Help me to follow you. Help me to trust in you and your love for me.”