Thursday, November 15, 2012

When Worlds Collide

I just realized today why being a stay at home mom feels so hard. Right now I am listening with one ear to the monitor for signs that my nephew is awake from his nap while feeding my 10 month old a disgusting meal of gummed down biscuit that he consumes like a pack of wild dogs going after a bone, all while my two year old sleeps peacefully downstairs. While doing all these things it came to me that I have just never worked this hard in my entire life. The days I spend with my children are relentless, unending marathons of picking up messes, making meals, playing with cars and trucks and too many things that make too many noises, and of course changing an infinite number of diapers.  Too many of which, by the way, require a change of clothes for all of us after the deed is done.

It should go without saying that I love it and LOVE my children. Even when it's hard and overwhelming, one little smile from my baby or funny comment from my toddler and my heart is so  full that I think it might burst. I wouldn't trade it for a day job. (Unfortunately i feel obligated to say that because mommy guilt kicks in and I worry that I will be judged for complaining about my children, or taking the blessing of being with them everyday for granted. For the record, I am an awesome mom and my kids are super awesome, and yes sometimes I want to hide in my room while they fight it out Hunger Games style). But every job I have worked up until now, no matter how busy or fast-paced I thought it was, did not hold a candle to this. The jobs I've had outside the home have been at least somewhat self-paced...meaning I could pick how hard I chose to work or how much I would try to get done in a shift. There might be a demanding boss, and sometimes customers or clients, but if I wanted to be crappy at my job, I could be. Or, I might have worked my butt off, but at least there was a break or a lunch on the horizon, or the joy of joys, the end of the work day.  But being a stay at home mom has absolutely nothing to do with me  and there is no pause button or stop button, and definitely no mute button (which would sometimes be the button of choice, let's be honest). I can't choose how hard I work because children have to be fed and changed and entertained and especially in this phase of life, there is no way that they can rely on themselves for any of these things. They need me for absolutely everything in their lives and the work isn't done until they decide it is by finally going to sleep at which time I usually fall into the couch and stay in that position until I get the energy to go to bed. 

Yesterday I spent a few too many hours dwelling and wallowing on this fact. "Just one minute to do what I want," I thought to myself, while angrily washing one more dish and soothing another crying child. I went to a dark place of bitterness and jealousy and selfishness that I'm not really proud of. But eventually kids do go to sleep and there is a moment to take a breath, after putting away the ocean of toys I spent the day tripping over and cleaning up the remnants of the days meals from the kitchen. And when I had a second of rational thought I realized something. This is exactly what my life is supposed to look like right now. It is no accident that God has been working through my issues with idolatry of self that I wrote about in my last post while I am in a stage of life that is the perfect place to let that work happen. What better way to cut away the love of self than to be in a place where I have almost no time to think about/worry about/even acknowledge myself? What better way to kill the demon of want and consumerism and vanity than being stuck in the house with three kids and only the energy to throw on some sweat pants and my hair in a ponytail?

A funny thing happens when you ask God to move. He does. And you want it to be this magical experience where you wake up and all of a sudden you don't care about the dumb things you used to and you feel this supernatural love and joy and peace and your children's crying all of the sudden sounds like angels singing and you could care less how much money is in your bank account or how many pairs of jeans you own. But it doesn't really happen that way. It happens in the way it's happening right now. You capture what is vile in you and offer it up to Christ in repentance, and then he starts working on you and in you, and it is usually hard and painful and stretching in ways you didn't really sign up for, if you are honest. But it is also pure JOY, because you realize how pure, how TRUE the gospel is. How petty the things of this world truly are when held up next to Jesus and his infinite power and how beautiful it is when you feel that power inside of you.

When I made this connection I could do nothing else but worship, to thank God for loving me enough to want me to be better, to be changed.  Colossians 3:1-4 says 

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at teh right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

My life is hidden with Christ in God, what?? My gross, jealous, bitter, selfish life is hidden behind His perfect one? If that doesn't make you WANT to be better, to kill those things in you as an act of worship and thanks for that being true I don't know what will. Because that is the truly beautiful thing about this whole thing. It is already done. All these things are already hidden in Him and my perfection is complete because it is HIS perfection that God sees in me. But he still chooses to work in us because he knows we need it, that life is better when are attentions and desires are towards Him and not the things of this world. Thank you Jesus, for loving me more than I even can comprehend.

Being a mom to little ones is hard, really hard. The knowledge that it is supposed to be hard doesn't change that, but it does give me something to cling to in those moments when the dishes are piling up and the baby is crying. My prayer is that my children see this struggle, somehow see and remember this time when there mom is learning how to cling to Jesus amid the biscuit crumbs and toy cars. And that they will learn to cling to him, too.


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