This morning I woke swimming in the mystery of life and motherhood…so heavy with burden and responsibility, so light with games of peek-a-boo and spontaneous dancing. So emptied out of energy and time and space and refreshment, so full of laughter and wonder and silly conversation. Despite the palpable beauty and the irrefutable blessing, there is a darkness that can cast shadows on a mama’s joy, and that leads us to live a shadow of the blessing intended for us.
There is the feeling of invisibility and having no visible achievement to show for the mothering of the day. There are sleepless nights and impossible pressures. There are fits and messes, and the hurry of the world clashing with the maddening sloooow of children who don’t see the big deal about putting on shoes. There is the crushing inadequacy, the fear of the dangers and hardships our children could face. There is the tension of being a mom, with enormous influence and utter lack of control over future and faith and safety.
There are the yoga pants and minivans, the feelings of smallness and un-chicness. There is the lack of understanding from the boss or the dinner party host. There is the impossible-to-explain importance of a naptime. There is the intense grind of chores and meals and sports schedules, and endless driving. There is the hopelessness of keeping up, the discouragement of failure, the laying down your life in the most imperceptible ways. There is the absence of instruction or feedback. There are the postpartum hormones and breastfeeding struggles that everyone has but no one likes to admit, and everyone seems to forget by the time their youngest is out of diapers.
Something in me cries out for someone to see, for someone to understand the chaotic mystery I’m trying to live, somehow with intention and purpose. Maybe like me, you yearn for someone to understand the strangeness of stumbling for coffee and trying to piece together a seemingly sloppy mess of moments into a story leading little souls to the feet of Jesus…shaping the next generation with the same handful of moments that can so easily be shaped by prolonged fatigue, grumpiness, and the inexplicable experience of “mommy brain.” All we’ve learned about life and faith and work seems to short-circuit in days of pure survival with tiny people.
And yet, our lives will be made up of a series of these mostly ordinary moments. What might it look like to live these moments fully alive? What might it mean to find God in the mess, instead of waiting for the mountaintop?
The days of a mother are full of things to distract us or keep us from the gift… I have to think that the secret to joy is not in pretending they aren’t there. I have to believe that a feeling of purpose and fulfillment is not in finding enough affirmation. I think the joy and peace and purpose we long for are just on the other side of surrender.
The key to unlocking joy and abundance in the midst of this motherhood thing – it lies hidden within our deepest cries and our desperate longings.
I believe God whispers to our hearts in the places that cry out the loudest.
As I open my ears to hear, I begin to notice God’s gentle whisper beckoning me to his heart – into deeper intimacy with Him – through the very things I thought were there to steal my joy. I invite you to tune in and listen to how God is calling to your heart right in the middle of your mess…
As your human limits slap you right across the face…when two eyes, two ears, two hands are never enough to meet all of the needs… When you crash into bed like a force of nature despite the mound of things you “should” be doing… When fatigue, lack of control, the inability to “fix it” for your kids overwhelm you… May these things drive you to submit to God’s infinite wisdom and sovereignty. Through our fleshy and finite humanness, God calls us to know his omnipotent kingship. God beckons our hearts through our weakness.
As you feel claustrophobic with small people hanging on you or talking ceaselessly, may you feel wooed into the safety and quiet of God’s presence. There was a time it was sheer discipline to remember to seek quiet in my day… it now feels like survival. I think of Jesus with the sick and desperate crowding against him as I feel the constant needs of my children assailing me. I think of newlywed days in a crowd and wishing to be alone with my love. God calls to our hearts through the pressure of our days…may you feel the longing ache to draw away and be alone with Him, the Lover of your soul. God beckons our hearts through the relentless pressure.
As your sense of identity seems to slip through your fingers… When everyone talks to your baby as if you are merely a backdrop… When no one notices that you never got to sit down for the meal… When so much of your life, worries and fears, longings and hopes, service and heartbreak – so much is unseen… may you hear God’s whisper that he sees. We are drawn into a life of self-sacrifice, before one set of eyes, the eyes of Our Heavenly Father. We are invited into a secret romance with him, and it’s all a dance of worship. God beckons our hearts through invisibility.
For this generation, there is a relentless unspoken law of “good mom.” When the expectations to do everything right are crushing you, and your constant failure bombarding you… If you fail to be the mom you want to be, and you are haunted by the thought of sweet little eyes seeing you do it all wrong… may you be washed in the truth that our shepherding is about our imperfection pointing to the perfection of Jesus, our weakness pointing to Christ’s strength. May you be beckoned by the whisper that says it’s all about grace. God calls us to security and confidence based not in our performance, but in our identity as His daughter. We are transformed by a keen and constant understanding of our need, and an hourly dependence on our Rescuer Jesus. God beckons our hearts through our failure.
When you are frustrated by your child’s agonizing slowness and distractibility… may you be beckoned by the invitation to wonder and delight. When you struggle to get them to focus, may you melt into their intoxicating giggles. Children are Jesus’ example of the liberation intended for our hearts. We are invited back to the magic of a butterfly. We are beckoned by an enthusiastic attitude of “Do it again!” We have a picture of the faith Jesus describes, in which our confidence comes from knowing we’re loved, not by our performance. Accepting grace comes easily, love is assumed. They move slow, are open to interruptions, are infinitely forgiving. This posture opens up endless possibilities for encountering the Spirit of God, living in gratitude. Children delight in every little thing of God’s creation. God beckons our hearts through our child’s eyes of unhurried wonder.
As parents, we have everything to lose. Fear of real or imagined danger and loss can be debilitating. Every time we must let our children go to some new adventure or unknown circumstance, it is as if our hearts are ripped right out and given legs. We are all Abraham laying Isaac on the alter because we believe God keeps his promises, and have nowhere else to turn (Genesis 22). We are all Jochabed putting Moses in a basket on the Nile because we have no other choice (Exodus 2). We could let this feeling trap us and paralyze us from joy-filled living, or we can listen for the whisper that gently says “I set the stars in place (Job 9:9, Psalm 8:3).” We could tune into the voice that says “I know every hair on their heads (Luke 12: 7).” We could listen for the One who says “They can never leave my presence, and I am the only one able to hem them in (Psalm 139).” Though we don’t have a promise for perpetual safety and ease, we have a promise that God is near, and God is good. God beckons us through our desperation for His covering over our children.
Days and nights full of laundry and dishes and lunch boxes and diapers and driving…they have a mind-numbing repetitiveness. We could spend them waiting bitterly for a better life to begin, but I’m beginning to see that the mindless tasks can become like repeating a worship refrain. As we build up our muscle memory for folding shirts and loading the dishwasher, we can build a spirit memory of openness and adoration. We can fold a shirt giving thanks for the one who wears it. We can pack the lunch or scrub the pot giving thanks for strong arms for our task. God beckons us with the repetitive refrain of our day, inviting us to sing a song of worship with our hands.
God is after your heart, Mama. I pray for eyes to see the wild pursuit.
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