It had been a rough, hot mess day, and it was only 9am.
There had been a hungry baby fussing and the general morning rush to make lunch for my husband, get everyone fed & dressed, while trying not to ignore my own hunger for too long. There had already been a glass broken accidentally, but still as a result of some loud toddler emotions. It was going to be a hot day in Pennsylvania, and the humidity of the morning only made it that much harder to not be annoyed.
I texted my husband for prayer, telling him that it already felt like a “I’m-not-so-sure-I’m-going-to-make-it” sort of day.
Throughout the course of the morning, there were many deep breaths, clinging to lines of Scripture as I washed our dishes and changed diapers and helped a little girl into her bathing suit. There were many one-liner prayers shot up, asking the Lord to calm my heart and to help me.
But the truth was that I could barely wait until naptime so that I could have a few moments to be quiet and think; some space to be alone and sort out my emotions, praying and processing the way I wanted to. I didn’t like how the morning had felt. I didn’t like how I felt. And one of my best strategies for a heart-reset happens during time alone with the Lord.
By the time lunch rolled around, I felt spent. I was ready for naptime now, and the forty-or-so minutes that separated me from what I hoped for, felt impossibly long.
I prayed again for help. And that’s when I felt the Lord whisper to my heart.
What are you waiting for?
I’m waiting for a break so I can write or journal or pray without distractions.
I’m waiting until I can be quiet and reset my heart by saying what I’m grateful for.
I feel annoyed and impatient and I know I need some gratitude to help my heart be in a better place.
Why can’t that happen here & now? What if you didn’t wait for quiet time? What if you did that WITH your kids today?
Why not indeed? It certainly wasn’t what I pictured, but I could do it.
It wasn’t my ideal, but I needed help sooner than later.
So, over broccoli & pasta, I told my daughter I was going to say some things I was grateful for, took a breath and dove in.
I’m grateful for our picnic lunch.
I’m grateful for you & your brother.
I’m grateful for your dad.
I’m grateful for his job & how hard he works.
I’m grateful for clean laundry.
I’m grateful for sunshine.
I’m grateful for fresh flowers on our table.
I’m grateful for our fans on such a hot day.
I’m grateful for our home that Jesus gave us.
I’m grateful for our porch to sit on & watch the cars drive past.
I’m grateful for bubbles & side-walk chalk.
As I spoke these words aloud, I’ll admit, it felt a little funny. I usually write these things in the privacy of my journal without an audience. But with each sentence, my heart felt a little lighter. And my almost-three-year old daughter couldn’t get enough of this gratitude “game.” She chimed in with her own gratitude list, punctuated by hugs of appreciation and some “hoorays!” of enthusiasm.
She was thankful for Pocahontas and her aunts & uncles and grass and flowers!
She was thankful for me and her dad and her brother!
She was thankful for her bed and pinecones and the Lion King!
She was thankful for “jelly beats” (jelly beans) and our basil plant and snacks!
When naptime did come, I found my heart not in quite such a desperate, dark place any longer. My heart felt full after speaking words of gratitude and including my daughter in the practice. I still felt tired, but no longer entirely spent. What grace it was to get to not have to wait for time alone in order for my heart to be helped.
How often I search for my ideal or try to recreate what worked for me in another season, only to be frustrated that it no longer fits into my current reality. I had a different rhythm with only one child and knew how to feed my soul in the ebb and flow of my day. I am still learning how to care for myself in the demands of this transition to two children in this new season.
I’m grateful for the grace the Lord offered me that day, meeting me in the midst of my mundane tasks & the mess of figuring it out. So often, I’m looking for my ideal and it is frustrating when I can’t make it happen. I’m on the hunt for something that feeds my soul in a way that worked in the past or in a way that I have more control of.
But so often this is where the Lord meets me.
In the mess.
In the mundane.
When I’m empty.
When I’m spent.
When I’m not at my best.
When I’m not in control.
When things are less than ideal.
It was a sweet reminder for my heart that I am loved by a God of the daily. He delights in helping me today, in this moment, where I find myself now. This is who he is.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
In the mess of transition, on the days where it feels like I might not make it, I’m grateful for the grace of a deliverer. I am saved from my daily mundane struggles, as well as any crushing death blows. His power is so great, yet so personal. In him is the “union of immense power and intense care.” (Tim Keller, Songs of Jesus)
As much as I wish I had more figured out and far less days where “making it” feels in question, I’m still in the mess of this transition.
I’m still in need of help in the daily struggles that come with two dear children entrusted to my care.
I’m still going to be needing more lunchtime gratitude lists, I’m sure.
And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be needing the grace of the Lord meeting me in the mess of my current reality, for all of my days.