In no area of life, if you devote yourself and excel, is remaining stationary and stagnant the goal.
Exercising and eating thoughtfully? Your goal is energy and health.
Which means a continual race in these dying bodies of ours. That means more sweating, walking away from a second helping again, and washing and chopping veggies again. And again.
Working hard and diligently at your job? You look towards possible promotions, raises, more authority and more responsibility.
Which means more problems, more challenges, more work. More opportunities to succeed or fail.
A skillful gardener considering adding footage to your dirt canvas?
Hello, weeds. Hello, sweat. Hello, aching back and broken fingernails.
In our house, we have approached our Christian walk with a commitment to believing the way the Bible speaks about children, which is that they are a blessing. Now, there are many issues, life circumstances, and mitigating factors that come into play about children coming along, and I’m not speaking to those exceptions. But having open arms to children, especially when they are coming regularly with no foreseeable cessation in the near future, seems like a lonely place to me right now.
‘You are overwhelmed with 5 young kids?’ says the world, or even other Christians. ‘Tell me, are you on 1 form of birth control or 2? Are you stupid? How indecent to keep procreating.’ To stay silent and private is easier for me.
But right now I’m losing the bigness amid the smallness.
And it’s all from petty, unimpressive things. This morning I looked at the work before me, and despaired and fussed (in my head). “Oh God, babies keep coming, am I going to be struggling to clean the bathroom while a toddler dumps out the trash can forever? If I don’t learn to organize into a routine, am I going to spend 3 decades struggling to get my work done? I keep trying routines and then I end up exhausted and discouraged. I’m not a routine person, God. Why do I have go be in a position where I need to be?”
I know I should be grateful that these babies have come. So many women want this blessing and God says no, that’s not what I want for you right now.
And any baby could be my last.
But my sinful heart sends sidelong glances at women with fewer kids, or women who seem to be done. (Whose stories I don’t know.) And I struggle with envy, wanting their quiet reading time. Wanting only older kids who will eat dinner with gratitude and enjoyment instead of complaints and long faces. Wanting wanting, greedy little heart, something different than God has put into my hands right now.
But I know that I am a forgiven person, as hard as that is for me to believe. Which means I am required to act forgiven. Which means self-sacrifice. Jesus suffered, died, was buried, rose from the dead, and reigns. And He says “Come along behind, daughter, and follow Me.”
Which means I may not cling to my fussing.
I do not get to keep and feed a little pet bad mood.
I may not feel sorry for myself, as I navigate my comfortable, sweet, beautiful life.
God has given me 5 little souls to shepherd, I may not withdraw from these brothers and sisters in Christ to some kind of self-fulfillment that the world whispers would be more important.
Because Jesus died and rose again, I may not be the old man. The withered, rotting, dead man. I may not look back to the grave and desire it. I must put on Jesus.
“…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Be renewed, Christians, in the spirit of your mind. Put on the new self. The likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness is what is happening.
In the humbleness of mothering littles, that righteousness and holiness is not lofty and dramatic. It is speaking kindly to a whining child, even though you have baby weight to lose and need a shower.
It is patiently stopping the dishes you’ve been needing to wash all morning to explain a math problem again.
It is rejoicing in being there for a baby in the night.
It is sweeping again, without thinking it a waste of your valuable time to pick paper scraps out of a spilled milk puddle and, wait, how do I sweep this mess up, anyway? Who dropped jelly toast on the floor and 3 chairs this morning?
And, in our house, it’s patiently letting the Lord give us children. Accepting these demanding, big little souls who need me to die to myself every day.
And that is lofty and glorious in it’s smallness. And that is true whether I feel it or not.