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Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Life Poured Out

Exhausted.  Overwhelmed.  Defeated.  Worn out.  Spent.  Already ready for tomorrow morning's coffee.  That's how I feel most evenings.

2 weeks ago, when I spent all night on the couch with one very very sick little guy.

People have called this period the "trenches of parenting", the "tough years", and many other names I'm too tired to think of.  I am fully aware that every stage of parenting - and life, have their own struggles.  But there is a special kind of tired when you're in charge of a little-person's eating, health, sleep, fun, emotional well-being, etc.

All I want is to raise a decent human being.  Someone who is kind to those around him, someone I would want to spend time with, and someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus.

And yet, my days are full of snack-making (so many snacks), loads of laundry (I'd rather make another snack), answering non-stop questions, like "is Jupiter hot or cold?", "why is it daytime?", "can I have another snack?", "why is Batman's logo starting to come off?", and "how do construction workers get water into buildings?"

I'm just going to start having him call me "Alexa".

I kiss boo-boos, get him dressed (and then dressed again), take him potty a million times (ooops... get dressed again), read books, try to come up with fun/educational things to do, answer some more questions, and do another load of laundry.  I find myself saying, "be careful", "stop", "sit on your bottom", "are you okay?", "do you need a time-out?" more times than one can count.  As I'm writing this, I can hear the washing machine sound going off.

And by the end of the day, most days, I feel wasted.  I feel like I have wasted my time, energy, talents and brain.  Wasted.  

And then I'm reminded of a sermon I heard.  I couldn't tell you where, when, or who preached it, but it was about the woman who anointed Jesus' feet.  I've heard the story many times, but this time this was the passage that stood out to me:

Mark 14:4 "There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?"

Mark 14:6,8a,9 "But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me... She has done what she could...And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."

Huh.  Wasted.  Everyone around the woman thought that what she had done was wasteful.  That she had wasted something precious.  Something irreplaceable.  She had spent it on the wrong thing.  She could've used what she had for this, or that.  But she'd wasted it.

But then Jesus stepped in, and with the kind of comfort only His words can bring, he defended her, and said that she did what she could - and that what she had done was beautiful to Him.  Not only that, but He said that her deeds would be spoken of throughout the world, for all the ages.  

What others saw as waste, Jesus saw as treasure.  What others saw as stupid female hysteria, Jesus saw as sacrifice.  What others saw as disdainful, Jesus saw as beautiful.  
Because it came from her heart, and it came at a precious price for her.  She was giving up something of immeasurable worth, to show someone how much He meant to her.  

And that wasn't a waste.

So now, back to my world.
This story doesn't make me less tired or worn out.  It doesn't "magically" keep snacks on my kid's plate, or help potty train.  It doesn't get rid of the mountain of laundry.

But it does give me the ability to change my perspective.  I am sowing seeds I don't even know that I am sowing.  Sometimes I listen to Aidan play, and I'll hear something that gives me a glimmer of what all my hard work is doing.  Or I'll knock something over, and say "oh, sorry", and he'll reply "it's okay mommy, we all make mistakes".  Or if I tell him I'm not feeling well, and he says, "I can pray for you!"

Even the small things, like picking up his toys, or taking his own clothes off, and putting them in the hamper.  Or sitting on the potty swinging his legs, singing "I like you, I like you, I like you, just the way you are."  Or letting him help me with the laundry - the sorting, putting it in the machine, pushing the button.  Watching him peel his own orange.  Listening to him pray before his meal.  Or retelling what his class learned about in Sunday school, or asking me questions during our Bible story time.  Remembering his letters, counting to 19 - in two languages now! 
 All of these things matter.
And these are the results of my "wasted" time.  Because it's not wasted time (well, most of it).  It's time that I am investing in a little life that I love a hundred times more than my own.

No clue where to look...

This post isn't about neglecting self-care, or giving into mom-guilt.  I'm not saying this to humble-brag, or to tell you that I whistle while I work, and have woodland creatures help me around the house.  I'm not saying you need to buck up, and enjoy every minute of parenting.  I am not saying you can't feel like running away from your kids.  (What???  I know you don't feel like that.  Just kidding.)  I do have a wonderful husband who does just as much, if not more than I do, I have hobbies, and ways to decompress - I'm not trying to make my life sound harder than it is.  But it IS exhausting, and it's okay to say that out loud.  Sometimes it feels never-ending, and I feel like what I do doesn't matter.  

So this is a reminder in those low and tired moments, that our lives are not wasted, they are given in sacrifice, in love and devotion...

And it's a beautiful thing.

Dancing to Ol' Blue Eyes. 

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