Yesterday was one of those days. The kind that usually follow a thought like, “Wow, I’m growing in leaps and bounds! I’m enjoying my family! I’m doing my job well! I’m such a servant!”
Ha. Pride comes before the fall?
Jordan had to get to church early yesterday and stay for both services. No big deal. I can manage the two girls on my own just fine, and church isn’t until 11. Surely I can handle getting us there on time.
So I mosied in the morning over a hot cup of coffee, with a smily baby at my side and a sweet four-year-old happily content to play, play, play upstairs. I spent some time praying and journaling and reconnecting with Jesus since my rainy day funk. It was wonderful. I felt refreshed and restored – my soul just a little bit lighter. I tucked smily-now-sleepy into bed for a nap and went to the kitchen.
It’s there that it started. It was a week’s-worth of mess, spread across dishes and countertops. I felt immediately overwhelmed, but tried to keep my task in focus. The dishwasher needed emptying and refilling; lunch needed to end up in the crockpot; Hadley and I needed some breakfast. I called her down and sent her to the table to eat while I dove into the mess. As she stood beside me waiting for her breakfast, she chattered. Incessantly. I was only half listening as I searched for a clean bowl and cup, and the noise was starting to get to me.
She goes on to tell me about the latest character she’s developing. The story unfolding upstairs, while I picture exploding toys, everywhere.
“Oh, that’s neat.” I reply. Sort of convincingly.
“Yes, Hadley?” It’s becoming harder to hide my irritation.
She tells me more of the story. The role of the stuffed animals, I think. Or maybe it was Sarah-the-doll’s part.
“Cool.” I hand her the cereal bowl, thinking it should pause her thoughts and give me a few minutes of peace. She takes it and walks into the dining room. I breathe out a sigh, pray for a little more grace, and resume the job.
“What, Hadley?!” My voice reflects my frustration. I try to calm. “What do you need?”
More story. She’s sitting at the dining room table but with her back to the table. She wants to tell me more, more, more. And I don’t want to hear more, more, more. I just want her to eat. I tell her such. Defeated, she turns around and quietly eats her cereal.
I resume my job. The dishwasher is loaded, lessening the mess on the counters, so I start on lunch. Bread would be nice. I pull out the bread machine and mix up the ingredients. As I turn it on, I realize that I’m down to ten minutes before we need to leave. I hurry Hadley up to get dressed and then discover that I did not put the kneading piece back where it belongs in the bread machine. There will be no bread unless I fix it. But what do I do? The pan is full of mix. I am suddenly very aware of how late we will be. I pull out a bowl and dump out a gooey mess, put the kneading piece over the gooey mess and attempt to return it to the pan. A new mess, but perhaps bread will result.
Adrienne starts to cry.
“Will you braid my hair?”
It’s not her fault I’m late, I remind myself. “We’ll see if there’s time. Get dressed!” I hope the urgency in my voice will move her along, but I watch her slowly prance up the stairs. Adrienne’s cries are more like screams now. I’m not dressed, haven’t brushed my teeth or hair, and have no makeup on. We needed to leave five minutes ago.
I finished getting ready to the sound of wails. Threw a quick braid in Hadley’s hair and a screaming baby in the carseat, nailed my ankle on the stairs on the way out the door, and ran through torrential rain and wind to the car. We were on our way. But we would certainly be late.
I called Jordan in a huff. “Save us seats, please.”
Despite Adrienne’s temporary calm, likely due to the shock of pelting rain, she resumed her fit.
“NOT NOW, HADLEY.” Doesn’t she hear Adrienne screaming? Doesn’t she know my ankle is throbbing? That I’m still not wearing any makeup? That I am FRUSTRATED?
I caught myself for a moment, but just for a moment. Then I resumed my wallowing in frustration. Soon, I had determined that it was all Jordan’s fault. Something my eyes told him as soon as we got to church.
Poor me. I just want to worship. To listen and engage. But these KIDS. They make it so impossible.
As if it was a joke, Adrienne fell peacefully asleep for a moment. I took a deep breath and asked Jordan to reach my Bible. The movement woke her up. There would be no engaging today.
Adrienne fussed through the service, and I did too.
Our sweet Pastor’s wife observed my distress and leaned over and prayed for me. Later, as I explained my frustration at trying to get the girls to church by myself, I realized that it was something that she did. Every week. Wow. What a baby I am. So sinful and messed up. And this after a morning with Jesus!
When we got home, Jordan asked what went wrong. I felt too angry and too foolish to explain. I wanted to just leave for the rest of the day and get the heck out of the chaos and noise. Instead, I silently fed Adrienne and silently finished lunch and silently ate it and silently went to sleep on the couch. As he nestled in behind me, I fought the urge to scream and cry and instead just slept. In my husbands arms.
The whole house slept.
A moment of peace.
I invited Hadley to help me bake some cookies and prepped for family night. Instead of retreating, I would engage. These are my people. Chaos and all.
I did later confess my temper tantrum to Jordan. With head low, I recounted just how deeply sinful and selfish I am, even in the midst of all that I think God is doing in my heart. It kind of sucked. But was sweet nonetheless.
This morning, my sister (Taryn) sent me a picture of a page in the book she’s reading (Sacred Marriage):
Contrary to popular opinion, woman was not created for her own fulfillment. (That goes for the men, too!) She was created to be a helper and a nurturer. Now that is not an easy assignment to accept. We tend to bristle and think, There must be something more significant than that! What homemaker hasn’t found herself asking, after the fiftieth load of laundry in a week or when facing yet another sink full of dirty dishes, “Is there anything significant about what I’m doing here?” Yet in God’s eyes, nothing is more significant than servanthood. The path to genuine greatness lies in serving.
Grasping for power or recognition is natural. Servanthood is supernatural. So many women are missing out on the supernatural today because they are caught up in the “search for significance.” Ironically, the more they search for it, the less satisfied they feel. Why? Significance is found in giving your life away, not in selfishly trying to find personal happiness.”
It’s like when John the Baptist is being coaxed by his friends to be angry at the growing crowds following Jesus instead of him, and he replies, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
But I’m a brat. I don’t want to decrease.
How quickly I turn from my calling to pursue my rights. I lower my sights for a moment and let that moment’s chaos triumph.
I’ve been telling Hadley that there’s a monster living inside her heart. And that a brave princess will fight the monster; she won’t just let him rage and rule over her. She will fight with the strength of her King. And she can win because the King has already won.
How disappointing to be reminded that the monster still rages within my own heart.
I loved the catechism I read here – it’s been echoing in my mind since I read it.
Blaire, who made you? God
Marisol, who made Titus and Chloe? God
Titus, what day is it? The Lord’s Day
Chloe, why is it the Lord’s Day? Because Jesus rose
Daphne, what kind of day is it? A sweet day
Seamus, what did Jesus kill on this day? The dragon
Judah, what else did Jesus kill? The dragon in our hearts
Lina, why did God give us the sabbath? So we could rest
Ameera, why did God give us Jesus? So we could rest in our hearts
Lucy, who is true man and true God? Jesus
Hero, do we have to earn our salvation? No, it is a free gift
Rory, what is the word for that free gift? The word is grace
Bel, what day of the week is this? The first day, the foundation day
Jemma, what does this mean? Every day is built on a foundation of grace
Knox, why did God do all this for us? Jesus died and rose to wash all our sins away
Kids, what’s the point of the whole Bible? Kill the dragon, get the girl!
The battle is never won.
And yet the battle is already won.
So we fight with the strength of our King. And we trust that He is growing and shaping us in the midst of it all.