It hit me on Saturday: I’m drowning Him out.

It’s what I do when He starts removing pieces from my Jenga tower. When things get wobbly, I face plant into my box of idols and make all kinds of noise trying to plug the holes before everything collapses. I know I should just calm the freak down and “be still and know that he is God,” but that’s way easier preached than it is lived, ‘specially after the kind of August we had.

When my dad drove away from my childhood home on August 1, I plugged the hole with countless trips to Goodwill, a flurry of Craislist postings, and a silent campaign to rid my house of anything impractical, lest I become overly sentimental and tied to things that, ultimately, are just going to walk off at an estate sale.

When people started disappearing from Advance Church (either to vacation or to move out of state or to just keep community at an arms length) and attendance and tithing and volunteering became all kinds of wonky, I stopped waking up early to spend time with God. The second I noticed Him stripping us of our self-sufficiency for, like, the umpteenth time, I got busy drowning him out with extra sleep, good coffee, and more time spent pining for new furniture than for Heaven.

When both of our ancient cars needed to be replaced within two weeks of each other and our plans to finally live free of car payments faded before our eyes, we threw up our hands, turned on a New Girl marathon, and started justifying regular nightly behavior resembling this:

wine and kit kats
The last straw descended in the form of a lymphoma diagnoses for our dog. Simon’s sudden death made something give way in me that I didn’t even know was there. Hurting hurt, like, so bad and, rather than settle into the weight of it, I kicked up a lot of dust (and dog hair) shoving it away. No more than two days after we put him down, I had: a name picked out for a puppy, a design plan ready for a custom crate/end table for Ryan to build, and breeders in CA emailing us photos of floppy, cuddly would-be Simebos.

Which brings me to last Saturday: the day I realized that under no circumstance did I need—among other things—a new puppy (at least not right this second). In my fight for contentment I was thrashing about from a place of entitlement rather than sitting quietly in a posture of surrender, pretending as if freedom from the seemingly out-of-control-ness of my life could be found in rebelling through noise making.

It cannot.

Freedom can only ever be found in Jesus. He’s the one who pulls away the needn’t-be pieces of our self-righteous towers and replaces them with his concrete purposes and presence so that we can feely contend for His glory in our neighborhoods and cities. We can create a commotion and chase the wind all we want, but until we “calm the freak down” and square our shoulders to His one, true face, we’ll be found tumbling head first into distracted, hurting lives.

I don’t want to live like that, and I know you don’t either. I want to be found freely spending my life well on His priorities, not face down in box of idols with a headache from all the noise.

So let’s lift up our heads today, turn down the volume, and commit to pressing into the kind of freedom Jennie Allen so richly tells of in her book, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul …

“If I view God rightly, I run to him the second any weight descends on my shoulders. He deals with it. I go to him broken, like the adulterous woman in the Bible, and he takes my hand and helps me up and says to me as he said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’

And with that taste of freedom, with that taste of forgiveness, I want to run from my sin toward a God who loves me…His presence is the only place where invisible weight is lifted. The only place where hidden, broken spaces are mended. The only place where we are defined apart from our successes and our failures.

This is the gospel:

‘[We] have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). And then God did what the law could not do. He sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3, paraphrased.)’

Christ did what none of us, no matter how bright and shiny, could do. We get to be free.”

Let’s live like we’re free,