This last week I was fighting for the wrong things.
You see, we threw a party for our son’s adoption. I wanted the party to be so cute, themed, and fun. I wanted it to involve all kinds of cute foods, decorations, and most of all the people we love. Somehow in the midst of the planning, my focus was shifted from celebrating my son, to finally getting the house in order and accomplishing all tasks we’ve had since we moved into our house two years ago: (I’m not kidding)
- Mold in the pantry? We are going to empty it, scrub it and re-paint it. This week.
- Stain and varnish on the windows? We are going to scrape it and clean the windows. This week.
- Tomatoes growing like weeds? We are going to make salsa and roast the rest. This week.
- Basil too? Make all the pesto. This week.
- Photos in the frames old? Print new ones ASAP.
- Crazy mosquitoes in the backyard? We spray them. This week.
The list goes on with the normal things too: change the sheets, prepare the guest room, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, get rid of the millions of ants that keep invading our house from every unidentified entrance in existence, vacuum, sweep the stairs, grocery shop, hang the streamers, make the crazy cute goodies for the party, pay the bills, host small group, etc.
Oh, and keep your kids alive and happy as well.
I got lost in my to-do list, and here I am, a few days after the party crawling out of the rabbit hole, feeling dazed and still tinged with stress. I messed up this whole last week. I got it all wrong in the jumble. Truth-be-told, this morning I woke up walked into the kitchen and saw ants—the banes of my existence—all over the counter because we left our blender out with smoothie still spattering its inner walls. Overcome with the reality that no matter how many traps I set, they won’t die, I felt out of control. I realize it seems like such a small and ridiculous thing, but it got all rolled up in this ball of emotion surrounding the reoccurring feeling of being trapped in this daily need to lay down my needs and wants to care for the needs and wants of my children.
Sometimes it means I don’t get to spend consistent time with any of my friends because my life rotates around kiddie schedules. Sometimes it means I have to wash three extra loads of laundry because I didn’t know something was peed on. Sometimes it means that I don’t get to visit with my friend who drove in from out of town because my son has Scarlet Fever. Sometimes it means I don’t get to buy my favorite La Croix because we need another gallon of milk instead. Sometimes it, means I don’t get to exercise because I simply cannot find a blank spot in the schedule during which I’m not needed. Sometimes it means I need to empty the cabinets instead of nap because the microwave guy finally has it fixed and ready to reinstall.
This morning, I felt like I had no idea how I was doing other than exhausted and unwilling to lay myself down for another second. I needed me some Jesus, but had a toddler hanging on my leg and a crying baby in my arms.
“Jesus,” I called softly, and he heard my prayer.
I have some apologies to hand out. I have some kids to hug and squeeze and love on, because this last week, and many weeks before, I’m sure, I’ve unwillingly sacrificed. I have begrudgingly rewashed the laundry I forgot to put in the dryer for the third time and begrudgingly made peanut butter and jelly for lunch and begrudgingly tended to the cries of my babies.
I read today in chapter one of Rachel Jankovic’s Fit to Burst, “Being a mother changes your role in the world…They change what you can do, where you can go, how you sleep…The sacrifice can stop already because look at what I’ve already lost. Don’t ask more of me, I have given it all…(but) there is a difference between giving something and having it taken from you. If you still count the things you lost with resentment, then you did not give them.”
I have so much to learn. Somehow, having Esmae four months ago, and learning to care for the very real needs of my two-year-old as well has brought me to a new place of giving of myself, and sometimes I truly feel as though I have nothing left to give. But I want desperately to rearrange in the scramble. I want my Jesus to be at the top—reminding me that when I feel as though I have laid it all down, He laid down more, and He calls us, with lowliness of mind, to esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3b). I want to serve my family with joy and feel the fullness of the Spirit while being emptied. I want to forget the list of to-dos when I’m with my family and friends and listen, hear their needs, and honor them as greater than myself and my agenda. Jesus and my people—that seems right.
Father, I know that humanity permeates its way into my every compartment. I know that my selfishness is real. I see myself again and again well up with hard-heartedness when I have to set aside my priorities and place those of my children in front. Oh, but if I could just remember the truth—that it is when we are emptied out, we become full; that when we put ourselves last, we will be first. Help me to call on your name in moments when giving of me feels like the last I could possibly give. I want to care first for my people—family or not. Teach me to see the needs of others before my own, and respond with love that’s big, that’s powerful, that can only be found in the One who fought for all the right things—who fought for the hearts of those who had run so wayward. I am so underserving. Thank you, my Lord, and Amen.