I discovered a new mark on the wall, minutes after remembering that the cabinet door was severed from its hinges by the weight of a child who had used it as a stepping stool. Another thing I had not yet added to my honey-do list.
My mind dove from a visionary focus to the limping cabinet and the new wall mark, not to mention the tiny scraps of paper embedded in the carpet threads from yesterday’s craft project.
I instantly flashed back to the pristine home we’d kept for nearly eight years before it was infiltrated by rubber duckies and dolls and fingerprints. What would the me who lived in that house think of this life now?
My mind roiled.
Nate and I once climbed into bed each night with lights dimmed by choice and not to hide the dust. We lived quietly.
I love quiet.
Motherhood breeds a new kind of weakness.
Their hearts beat and bleed and flutter, and all of those movements are in my palm to shape. Most days I’m grossly underqualified.
Who, even, is capable of this responsibility?
I had all these thoughts before breakfast. But it turns out the cabinet was the least of my concerns.
As I gathered everyone for the day, she burst. She looked at me with cavernous eyes, her mouth spewing words that had been buried deep within years that most children never had to know. All of her questions of God and of the years of orphanhood He’d allowed for her were funneled into one emotion—anger—and at one target—me.
She wasn’t drunk on rage; she was broken. My child, who lived most of her days lightfooted and delightful, had stumbled across a release valve, and I was there to absorb the release. She spoke venom, and I listened. She fought and pushed, hoping I would leave like everyone else, and I held her.
I had no answer, so I hugged instead of spoke, pushing back her hair with my fingers while I whispered prayers over this dark surge that startled both of us.
We had no resolution that day. Not with her heart, not with the cabinet door.
Some might call it a wasted day. The young wife who, years ago, kept the house spotless and her life quiet might wonder, What happened?
If the cabinet door and the mark on the wall and all the little bits of paper weren’t enough to remind me that I couldn’t keep up with this new calling, the vacancy in my daughter’s eyes that day convinced me. I stood at the end of me, in the mess of me, flat broke while trying to embrace the richness that being Mommy is supposed to bring. Motherhood forges its own hunger.
And my hunger is revealing this: motherhood’s greatest fulfillment is not when children become vibrant God-followers who change the world for Him. Though this goal is certainly high on my list, I would be left bereft in the day-to-day reality of parenting if my eyes were on this alone. If this is my highest goal, then what am I to do when anger floods her limbs and his heart seems stuck, when I’m waiting and praying but not yet seeing fruit? If my chief end as a mother is anything less than knowing Him and carrying His glory in my life, I will walk through these years empty.
I have an opportunity that neither the mundanity of motherhood nor my children’s not- yets will ever thwart. I can find Him, right here. And in searching Him out, I can invite His technicolor majesty in and through what might otherwise be grays.
I can grow in intimacy with Him, anywhere.
When I hear God speak over the beautiful crucible of parenting’s repetition and its unknowns, when I invite Him into both of those aches, I have an opportunity to adore Him through the story my household is living.
Some days that story feels tedious. Other days, like the many when I push her hair back and whisper prayers over her unfinished edges, are laced with beautiful opportunity. Could it be that both offer the same invitation? I could spend most days looking for the golden moment ahead, when the gold is already in front of me.
He is the gold, within.
This is an excerpt from Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, releasing via Zondervan October 7th. For those who squeeze in a pre-order purchase in these next few weeks, we have some sweet gifts available to you. **And, have you seen this yet …it might just be the four minutes you need today?