Release and Gather may not seem like the best title for a blog. Two contradicting terms--releasing and gathering--in a seemingly backwards order. Don't you have to gather before you can release? These two words kept popping up in odd places nearly two years ago when I was all but drowning in the heartache of a child leaving home before he was supposed to. God was teaching me about letting go when all I wanted to do was hold everything and everyone close so life would fit into my neat plan.
Last Spring I attended the Pursuit Community conference where numerous talented women shared their hearts and stories. The idea of "release and gather" was underscored over and over as these writers, speakers, and poets wove a theme of how God had brought them from Point A to Point B.
Releasing expectations for what was supposed to happen in a certain season.
Releasing the need to be everything to everyone.
Cultivating--getting rid of the stuff that didn't serve the garden.
Letting go of the lies we tell ourselves about who we are and what we are capable of.
Bypassing the easy road.
Releasing anger and bitterness.
Freeing dreams that were too small.
Surrendering a story for God's glory instead of a need for personal relevance.
The idea of "release and gather" began to make perfect sense. We cannot gather the blessings He has for us--people, experiences, relationships--until we first release ourselves of ourselves, that looking inward all the time. Until we start looking upward and outward to the One who gave everything for us, we cannot Gather.
Tonight was one of those nights that had "Release and Gather" stamped all over it. After a long day of work, I wanted nothing more than to head to a local restaurant to let someone else cook, feed, and wash dishes for me. My youngest child, Jonah, is the only one left at home, and I'm not sure he is here enough to even claim this place as his residence! Dinner out would be a sure way to bribe him into some family time, but when I opened the fridge, five pounds of chicken thighs stared me in the face with that sticker I hate: "Sell by TODAY!" Rather than suffer the guilt of uncooked, rotting chicken in my fridge, I decided to proceed with cooking what was on "The Plan."
Halfway through slicing zucchini I realized I was preparing enough food for my family when I had 6-7 people at the table instead of 3. I simultaneously realized that I had not messaged one of my adopted children (who is hip-deep in the waters of adult independence with leaky waders) to ask him to have dinner with us sometime.
But my house is messy. This is a low-carb meal. He'll want a starch. Boys don't eat green vegetables. The only chicken he probably eats is the nugget variety. I don't have any rolls. Or dessert. He probably has plans anyway.
Then I stopped myself from thinking of more reasons I shouldn't invite him to dinner. I released the "what ifs" and just sent the text.
Me: Come have some dinner if you want.
C: Where at?
Me: Mi casa, hombre...spiced chicken with maple butter glaze and roasted veggies. Sounds great, right?! If you don't like that, I have hotdogs or tuna.
C: sounds good, i should be off work in about 15 mins i think
And there it was. Release and Gather.
I let go of the easier route and cooked a delicious, healthy meal. I threw out all the reasons not to invite someone to dinner and just sent the text. I released my sadness of gathering at a table that was no longer full of my children. Instead I had a chance to fill a boy's belly with a home-cooked meal and fill his mama's heart (she lives 4 hours away and is a dear friend) with some peace.
Release and Gather. Pour out. Be filled.