“Your belly button is showing.”
Cole glanced down at his midsection, barely covered by the t-shirt he threw on that morning, but his mind and eyes were on other things…namely, the hose poised in his brother’s hands a few steps away.
The boys were out back on a late-Spring day, making the most of the dirty cottonball clouds hanging low in the sky and cooler temperatures as the season’s first tropical storm lightly smacked Florida’s east coast. Sunny days are the status quo in Tampa, so cloudy and overcast is a refreshing UV reprieve.
Cole and Chase finished school the prior week and were diving headfirst into summer with a sprinkler-soaked morning. I noted the growing mud puddles, drenched clothes, and strewn-about toys with a sigh.
I had to laugh as they ran around, carving the air with sharp shrieks and creating darting targets for spraying sheets of water. Chase especially enjoys being hose-master, and I watched Cole’s white t-shirt lose its color under his brother’s direct assault. Higher on his belly the t-shirt rode, shrinking as it soaked up water.
Since my hubby’s go-to uniform at home is a white Hanes t-shirt and workout shorts, the boys often – intentionally - dress like their dad. The Hanes t-shirts we bought last fall still fit Chase, but Cole’s longer frame had lengthened yet again, and the shirt didn’t quite meet the soccer shorts resting on childhood-tight abs.
As I giggled and headed back inside so I didn’t end up drenched, I mentally noted to go through Cole’s shirt drawer to pull out the articles of clothing that no longer fit his growing body. At that moment I glanced at my latest purchase from Target – a book by an author I used to love reading – and Truth washed over me like water from a gushing sprinkler head.
“For you are the temple of the living God.”
I, too, was growing out of some things from my past. Not clothes, thankfully, but things God gently called me to separate from because I’d spiritually outgrown them – books and movies that pull my heart and head and thoughts toward things of the earth rather than on things above.
The last book I read by this contemporary romance author had an unusual and discouraging amount of colorful language dotted throughout its pages, a great deal of which included Jesus’ name as a swear. I hear it during movies, too, and I shrivel up a bit in my sensitive soul.
“For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6: 16-18).
It started four years ago on Cole’s birthday, June 3rd. A spiritual growth spurt so painful and powerful I’m forever changed. God accompanied me to the threshold of the greatest trial I’ve experienced in my life, and Jesus took my hand tightly and never let go (HE NEVER LET GO). Worldly dust shook off my soul, so thick and caked and stench-ridden from years of filling all the cracks and crevices inside – deep places only He should fill.
Cracks and crevices filled with the dusty, dirty cares of this world.
In the days, weeks, and months following my crippling experience with panic and anxiety, God taught me through His word and prayer and by other family members in the Body that what we put into our minds and souls either conforms us to this world or transforms us through and for Christ.
“Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you…”
I’m careful now, more aware of what I read and watch and listen to, because who I am longs to be more, much more who He is. Putting off the old man is tedious, at times solitary and only accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it’s where the Lord has led me - just me - and I pray for buckets full of grace to shower on others as they, too, journey toward Jesus’ heart.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2