Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Work Memo: From One Professional Mom to Another. . .Blog Day #30

"The hours were long, but the days went fast."

This October will mark my 10th anniversary as a professional mother. 

Here's where I started:  3 years into my Christian walk, married 1 year and 2 months, just shy of 23 years old.

When little Lela was born, I had a whole heart full of expectations and ideas of how I was going to parent.  But reality hit when nursing was beyond difficult, recovery was arduous, and I had this little blob that needed to come with me everywhere I went.  Taking care of an infant was much harder than it looked in all the books I read. 

My "rookie" years were tough.  I was fully immersed in parenthood with little professional preparation.  After only 20 months on the job, I potty trained Lela (also harder in real life than in books) in preparation for the 2nd kid--  a baby boy who never stopped moving in the womb. 

He was a shocker from the beginning, with his blonde hair and blue eyes.  He cried a lot.  Not the colicky cry, or Lela's "I'm settling down" crying before naps, which would have been more tolerable, but a whiny, unhappy-with-anything crying.  Plus the 6 month old could crawl all over me like a ferret.  And did so often.

Then I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte.  I remember thinking, "I already have a baby, what am I going to do with another?"

So there I was, with three babies 3 years old and under.  Hubbie was working like a dog but not making very much.  We lived in a dumpy townhouse in downtown Davis with an inaccessible decomposing rat in our attic.  We were on the WIC and CHOC programs and still barely keeping the power on. 

Spiritually, I was in a desperate place.  My faith was firm, but my preggo or nursing mind couldn't seem to think straight.  Every time I had a quiet-time to do my Bible studies, I would fall asleep.  The stress of daily-life was taking a toll on me, Hubbie and our marriage.  When I prayed, I had no words-- just a silent cry for help. 

As a Bible-following Christ-believing Christian, you hear talk of "everlasting joy" and a "peace that surpasses all understanding."  Back then, they were just words to me.  I was too pre-occupied with life itself to have a good handle on what those expressions could mean for me.  It was hard for me to look beyond finances and a baby who had to eat cheese squares because we couldn't afford baby food.  I was up to my neck in poopy diapers and potty training and toddler tantrums.  Where is the joy in all that? How was I to find any peace at all?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  --Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

In days of morning sickness and guilt over letting little toddlers watch hours of tv while I rested, I was in a bit of a spiritual lethargy.  Joy was allusive.  Peace was foreign.  But I had the truth of the gospel and His love for me, though I didn't feel it.  Romans 5 became my comfort.  I was falling short of all I thought I should be doing as a good Christian, but I could persevere. So I did.  I just survived.

God provided everything I needed to keep my head above water.  My friends were there praying, supporting, role modeling.  Family was nearby to provide much needed breaks and help.  We had what we needed to eat, have electricity and put gas in our cars.  I maintained perspective, sticking to the truth of "This too will pass."

And then during an annual retreat with some fellow moms, my good friend introduced me to this piece of Scripture:

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
   He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
   he gently leads those that have young.
--Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

Meditating upon these verses, I reached a turning point in my career.  God doesn't just have grace for all of our sins, He has grace for us in all of our circumstances.  He knows every minute detail of our daily grind.  Of course he would allow for more or less grace, depending on what is going on.  Because He is a compassionate God.

So those days when I would fall into a deep sleep during quiet, praying times-- He knew what I needed and probably induced that.  The days I thought the kids wouldn't stop crying and I was washing purposely painted excrement off the walls, He sustained me and the day would end quickly.  The times I was at my worst and losing a grip on my faith, He would gently tip my chin up, put His hands on my shoulders and keep me walking forward. 

His love never failed.  I persevered through those early years.  I held on to God's gentle hand.  And He led me to quiet waters. 

Well, as quiet as 5 kids can get. . .

I'm not half-way through my career yet.  And I don't know what the next 10 years is going to look like.  There are, for certain, more trials to come.

But I can say this:  that through perseverance, through standing firm in Truth and not feelings, I have discovered the allusive joy and foreign peace. 

I persevered.  Because I persevered, I gained character.  Because I gained character, I was given hope.  And this hope doesn't disappoint because of His love, given to us by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a constant when we stand firm in faith.

And it must be mentioned that the world is not about me.  I am not the center of the universe.  There is a bigger picture, a picture larger than the universe.  The "Kingdom Business", as Paster Glen Snyder puts it, is not about making me feel great.  It's not about making my life easier.  At least, not until it's my turn to enter the gates of Heaven. 

The "Kingdom Business" is about restoring  man to God.  And He's already taken the pivotal step:  coming down as man, dying on the cross to take our punishment for sin, then rising from the dead as no other god can do.  Now the Big Boss wants us to take this love He gave us and love Him back.  In loving Him back, He wants us to love all His peoples.

Included in these peoples are the little peoples.  The ones entrusted into our care.  The ones who push our buttons, embarrass us in the grocery store, bite their Sunday school teachers, wake us up in the middle of the night because they fear "can't-see-ems", play with our faces when we let them snuggle with us early in the mornings, cry during family pictures, poop their pants in Costco, treat Wal-Mart like a park, make you change into pajamas because they've garfed all over your clean outfits, and leave floaties in your much anticipated glass of juice.

God never said it would be easy.  He just told us to do it.  Love them.  Joyfully and Have Peace.

But how?

I am glad to say that in this current second, my trials are not tribulations.  My trials are more like irritations (thanks for the distinction, Beth Moore).  But it's not to say that my irritations are not wearisome. I am actually in a constant state of weariness.  Not just physically from my new-found exercise hobby.  But bone-weariness and grouchiness to boot.

Yet, I have found out how to have Joy and Peace through it all.  I have found out how to have Joy and Peace through unhappiness and discomfort.

It's perseverance-- sticking to the truth, and not relying on feelings.  Keep on keeping on.  Get through the day.  Then start over in the morning.

It's perspective-- lowering expectations and remembering that life isn't about "me". Stick to the Kingdom Business.

It's honesty and humility-- seeking help where help is needed. 

It's having character-- loving people, loving the children, loving the Hubbie, and doing what is right and true.

It's having hope--  God is good, no matter how we feel.  "It will all be okay." is a cliche for a reason. Use it until it becomes an over-used cliche.  And then use it again.  Because God is good. 

So breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathe out all else-- self-doubt, burn-out, stress, worry, negativity, ungratefulness, selfishness, bitterness. . .

You were chosen for one of the most noblest tasks. . .employed by the perfect Almighty Big Boss. . .Your work has not gone unnoticed. . .And there is reward waiting for you at the end. . . .Keep working, fellow mothers. . .When God is for us, who can be against us?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. It's one every Mom should read. A great reminder and inspiration for getting on, not wallow and even when it's hard to continue in the path God has laid before us with Joy!

joy said...

thank you for these words! they spoke to me just where i am!