Thursday, August 9, 2012

Here, Tired Mama...Have a Drink

The sink is bulging with stinky dishes.  The bananas have become a mating ground for fruit flies.  The dryer is full of wrinkled clothes and the washer is full of mildewed ones.  Legos, Matchbox cars, superhero capes, and StarWars underwear are everywhere.  And all four food groups can be found on the floor under the kitchen table.

With this amount of this chaos, one would think the lady of the house been relaxing on the couch for days with a good book.  But no.  This lady hasn't sat down for 7 hours.  What has she been doing all dang day?
cartoon source: here
Chasing children. Entertaining children.  Preparing food for children.  Loving children.  Teaching children.  Nurturing, raising, and pouring herself into children.

Her clothes are smeared with snot, spit-up, and poop--the trifecta of mothering substances.

And by 4:45 PM, her nerves feel like they've been scraped across a cheese grater.

I love my boys and would lay down my life for them, but you know what?  I get really tired and cranky sometimes.  

For years, 6 to be exact, this mama has often fallen into bed with a heavy block of guilt on my chest. I replay the day in my mind.  I didn't encourage enough.  And I said too much of the wrong thing.  I didn't play with them enough.  I was too impatient.  I prodded too much, I shouted too much

Too much.

Not enough.

Too much.

Not enough.

Arrows of my failures and shortcomings pierce my guts.

Within moments, the muscles in my neck and back burn with tension and anxiety and my stomach churns. Ahhhh, the physical manifestations of guilt and failure.  I pray for God's mercies to be new in the morning; new for me, new for the boys.  That I can forgive myself and try to be less of a witch tomorrow.

There's a tried-and-true remedy for this sad cycle...I like to call it Holy Mommy CPR.  Letting God revive my "mommy heart" toward my kids.  But I don't spend enough (or often any) time with Him during the day.  I don't crawl up into the shelter He provides, the Hiding Place He so faithfully and graciously offers me.  I know peace and joy and patience flow from sitting still and letting His truth wash over my wrinkled, feverish heart.  And yet it requires time alone with Him.  Which is a beautiful thing.  And yet...

I know I need to make it a higher--much higher--priority.

I know I need to...

I know I need to...

Here, mother of small children:  have an extra scoop of guilt.  A second helping of regret.  Can I get you a refill on that self-condemnation? 

"Time alone with God?", my mind reels.

When?  I can't even go to the bathroom without the children searching passionately for me. They beat on the door, clamor for my attention, shout of injustices experienced by one at the hand of the other, and finally burst in.  My reaction is...

That I've had enough.

I'm thirsty for a change.

"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in me...streams of Living Water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38)  

Hold up a minute, here.  

Jesus, you're telling me that if I believe in You, which I absolutely do--You're my Savior and Redeemer--, I'll have this living water flowing from within me?  You mean, like, it's been there this whole time?  I just have to sit still and quiet enough for a few minutes, until I can hear the quiet trickle of Your peace tumbling over the smooth stones of the brook in my soul? 

"Yes," Jesus says.  "That's exactly what I'm saying.  It's here.  You just have to lay down next to it, reach in, fill your cup to the brim, and then tilt back your head and take a long, breathless drink."  

Jesus offers his pool of Living Water for you and for me.  We just have to dip our cups in it and drink.  What can possibly be so hard about that?  And why is it that we drag our bullet-ridden souls to all the other pools and try them first:  the pool of over-eating, the pool of drinking too much, the pool of obsessively checking Facebook and, the pool of credit card "retail therapy", the pool of too much TV, the pool of ignoring our kids while we text, the pool of anger and frustration.

We are not alone, friend.

I believe we are facing an epidemic in motherhood.  So many young moms are just...done.  At the end of their ropes. Checking out.  And single moms?  Moms of kiddos with special needs or terminal illnesses?  Only God knows how you do it.  [You have my utmost respect.]

Look at these two fantastic, energetic, happy children.  
I am incredibly blessed.  I get to stay at home with them!  My life is ridiculously easy and wonderful.  These facts do not escape me.  How many working moms out there would give their two front teeth to have what I have?  And yet, I am so often on "empty" with my boys, frustrated because they need, need, need (as all children do and should), and I get a little resentful of constantly giving.  

But things are looking up....literally.

Lately, and I mean it's a very recent "lately",  I've been laying down and drinking a lot of the Living Water Jesus has to offer.  My house is a little messier than normal, but I've got...and you'll have to excuse the analogy but it's the best one I can think of...a peace "buzz".

And with all this "drinking", I've stumbled upon a realization:  most moms struggle because they are in constant search of PEACE. 

Are you?  Do you seek peace between your kids as they play, eat, and lay down for bedtime?  Do you think you'd be a little less frazzled at the end of the day (or at the beginning of one) if there were less screaming (from them and you)?  Do you desire a thick peace to flow over your heart, filling in all the knotty holes of deep hurts, disappointments, and depression?  How about a fountain of peace bubbling up in your living room, flowing through the halls of your home, swirling in gentle patterns as it touches each bed, each table leg?

To drink from His pool, Jesus doesn't require that we first put on our church clothes, sing half the hymnbook, and drag out 47 biblical reference books.  Were that the case, only empty-nesters and mothers who had wrapped their children in Duct tape and suspended them from the ceiling would be able to have a drink.  All Jesus asks is that we come.  That we just show up.  With our greasy ponytails and coffee breath.

Just reading this and thinking about it right now, you may feel like that would require giving even more of yourself away and frankly, you're bankrupt.  You've got nothing left to give.  I felt that way, too.  But Jesus is the one who is giving here.  Not you, not me.  I encourage you to just dip your toe into His Living Water one morning; I pray you'll be as shocked as I was to discover the depth of peace and patience that will well up out of you during the day. Before long you'll be perched on the edge of the pool, ready to do a double-backflip-triple-gainer into it.  It's that wonderful.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good."  (Psalm 34:8)

If you are a tired, stretched-thin mama, will you join me at the Water's edge?  He'll fill our cups with His beautiful hands.  He'll return them to us overflowing.  And we will drink deeply.

(If you don't know Jesus will you please read this?)


Anjie F said...

Amazing....something I always need to hear....thank u!

Heather said...

Thank you Ginny! This was lovely and just what I needed to hear today. I pray peace over my child every night but tend to neglect my own heart. Thank you for this reminder to drink from the fount of Living Water instead of empty cisterns.

Kristen said...

Such a beautiful reminder. Thank you for writing this. It reminds me of the translation of "being still", which is to "stop striving". So thankful we are enough in the eyes of Christ!

Beth Stanion said...

Pure loveliness, joy overflowing, & gentle reminders of His Love and desire for us to have rest. Thank you 1,000 times over. Honest goodness, like your food. Jesus works through you to deliver the drink to so many of us, merci beau coup