Motherhood And The Christian Walk
I heard the screaming that was only getting louder as I let the dog back in the door. I instructed her to sit, and instead she squatted and immediately proceeded to pee on the rug. Sending her back outside, I growled and stomped off to get a rag. I called up the stairs, “I’ll be there in a minute. Hold your horses, just calm down.” The child already had a bowl of cereal, milk, water, and a spoon. His brothers were with him at the table too. What else did he need? Did he really not get a good nap today after all? My efforts at verbally calming him while I finished with the dog seemed futile as his screaming intensified. I grabbed a towel, mopped up the dog pee, let the dog back in the door and corrected her behavior. I sent her off to eat her dinner while I got on all fours to pick up the abandoned Lego pieces in my office. I could still hear the screams reverberating through the ventilation systems as I tossed the colorful pieces into the two buckets and snapped on the lids. Gather library books, put buckets away, return dog to Kennel. There, I was ready to ascend the stairs and attend to whatever crisis my second-born deemed worthy of his catastrophic screams on this Good Friday evening. Or so I thought.
On entering the kitchen, I attempted to “shhhh” the screams as I approached his chair. Apparently, no one was dying, though you wouldn’t know from the sound coming from the child’s mouth. I held him close. “What’s wrong?” “I don’t like cheerios!” He responded through crocodile tears. Really? All this drama over cheerios? “My throat hurts, my tummy hurts!” He was just getting louder. I barely got, “It’s okay,” out of my mouth before I was interrupted with an eruption of vomit that splashed on the floor, the walls, the doors, the table and the chairs and completely soaked my pants and slippers. Ahhh, that makes more sense. I let out a sigh, but tried not to breath in too deeply so that I would not smell the insulting fumes of his earlier lunch. My little one was screaming even harder now, having frightened himself with the incontrollable actions of his body. This was the first time he had experienced this. Guess it could be terribly frightening for a two-year-old. We stripped off the offensive clothing and headed straight to the tub. The mess would have to wait. I instructed my oldest, who is only 4, to feed the baby his dinner – I hoped desperately that wasn’t a mistake. But the little one needed to eat, and I was currently covered in remnants of the middle child’s lunch.
The rest of the clean-up went smoothly enough, son cleaned, dried, warm and on the couch with towels and a bucket. Oldest son achieved most of the dinner in the baby’s mouth J and I spent the evening mopping up the kitchen with towels, napkins, vinegar and rags, Clorox wipes (yeah, the chairs and the table and the doors and the walls too.) And believe it or not, I only gagged once.
This is life. The life of a mother. The life of a Christian mother. The life of every mother. Chaos erupts, control is elusive, plans fail and change, and I wonder what does it really look like to live the abundant life in the midst of this mess?
I have a quote by Ann Voskamp posted on the home screen of my computer. “Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don’t see God, I will bow down before something else.” (1). So how do I see God in this? On my hands and my knees wiping the floor where our feet trod every day? On my back deck hanging out another load of laundry to dry (because the heating element went out in my dryer)? Struggling to pull myself off the couch to meet another need because now I am feeling nauseous? When everything seems to be going wrong, how do I see God?
I post reminders: On my phone alarm, Look for God today. On my mantel, He must increase, I must decrease. On my knife block, In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world. But I still forget. When I am knee deep in dirty laundry, when the bathrooms are screaming for a good scrubbing, when the kids are sick – and especially when I am sick – I forget. I get short sighted and see no further than my own needs in the moment. I bow to me, myself, and I. I step back up to the throne and claim the rights that I think I deserve: help, rest, reprieve.
My Good Friday wasn’t such a good day this year. It was hard. I struggled. The lack of control, the chaos, the inability to plan or even negotiate my circumstances pulled at my heartstrings and tempted me to step back up to that place of worship. But I was also reminded on this Good Friday of a King who was much more worthy of worship than I could ever hope to be who was betrayed, accused, arrested, tried, flogged, spat on, and crucified. He didn’t deserve any of it. He could have stepped up to that rightful place and demanded worship from those around him. But instead, he chose to look to his Father in gratitude (On the night he was betrayed, he took the bread and gave thanks, and then broke it – 1 Corinthians 11:23-24). And if my Savior can see past the hardest circumstances in His life, surely, I can see past the meager messes around me.
So in these moments of the gross, threatening, frustrating circumstances, even as a wife and mommy in the throes of life, I can look for those ways to be grateful – the puke was on the kitchen floor, not the carpet. The dryer went out in the spring when it was sunny – not during one of the roughest winters in 16 years. I have active kids who are creative – even with the Legos they leave on the floor. And when I choose to see the hand of God even behind these smallest of circumstances, the curtain lifts just a hair, just enough for me to catch a glimmer of the light of his glory, the light of his care for me, for each moment, for each circumstance, for each mess. For when I am grateful, I enter the very presence of God. And it is there in His presence that I find the fullest life possible – the abundant life that He promised.