Ladies, and any gentlemen brave enough to read about wifing (not wifi, but rather the plural form of being a wife), boys and girls, I want to talk about the riveting, glamorous, impressive, wild world of trying to do and be everything. Mom’s, wives, the sleepless wondering (wandering at times) let’s talk about living this life with all we’ve got. When I think of the GOAT, the greatest mother, wife, hard worker of all time… I think of no one. I have an amazing mother, but the vacuum in my thinking is because I believe this GOAT takes a million different shapes, cups, sizes, methods, ways, forgiveness, courage, and attempts. Here are some of mine, and I hope you can take a few tips, back yourself a bit, and sit, stand and run more comfortably in those shining shoes of yours.
I’m going to take each of these topics and open-heart them. Wifing is both better than I thought it would be, and much harder. Happily Ever After is a marathon, not a fairy tale – and it works my tail to the absolute max. I have this beautiful white and gold picture on my bookshelf from Song of Solomon…. ‘I have found the one whom my soul loves.’ And for a long time, I tried to fit my husband into that frame. I thought, this is who I’m supposed to soul-love the most. My marriage has improved markedly since I have welcomed the love of the Bridegroom, the Believed, to be that One in the frame – and in my heart. Otherwise I would put too much pressure on Seth and crush our marriage under the weight of my expectations and hopes for him to be — always affirming and affectionate, loving and tender, sensitive and a listening ear. As Jesus’ love has moved into that space, I have more grace in my marriage, more freedom, more peace, and more delight. Ladies – if you are the one or two women in the history of the world for whom all of your dreams, hopes and prayers are answered in this man, congratulations. You have received your reward. For the rest of us, Song of Songs is for the King. And you’ll find your soul singing again and again when you’re found by Him.
Yes it’s a verb. A serious verb. Like the most active -ing word imaginable. And we do it daily. Like every day. Again and again. Then we do it again. Momming. It is being a servant in our own house. And in my best moments, I wake with gratitude, perspective of the gift it is to be a parent, be able to feed my children, and live safely. This is not all they need though. The other day I said to my kids, ‘Okay, Levi, you’re first. Each of you will have 5-10 min with Mom, just sitting with me.’ They grumbled and moaned a bit because I interrupted their play. As I sat with each one – they had so much to say. Way more than they, or I, realized. Then my four year old said, ‘Mom, that was fun.’ I am discovering more and more, that letting our children know we see them, we want to know them, (not just provide for them) is key. I listen when they talk. Curious about why they laugh so hard at that graphic novel, or what pretend world they’ve created with Lego Batman, and genuinely seeking to identify and celebrate their unique talents. What about your kids? What do they love? When was the last time you just stopped and listened? In these moments, my children feel understood, and I understand more who they need me to be.
To work outside your home or not to work outside your home. The question is not whether you ‘work’. Mom’s. We are working our cute bottoms off. Like all the time. … ‘Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your heart.’ I think this is what God is looking for. Can I leave the consequences in his hands? Entrust my controlling tendencies, and enjoy my portion as assigned as Ps. 16:7 describes and not just accidentally or ‘I should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ have this or that? Work it at home. Cultivate. Work it outside of home. Cultivate. We are curating our generation, through our labor, with our children, and if we will wake each day and attend to what is in our hands, (no not our phone all the time) sharing with them what we are doing at work and why we do it (to change the world, ladies) and above all, show them our lives, our love and our faith by our works, then they will see and put their trust in the Lord. And that kind of work changes the world.
Since momming, praying has become in the minute, at the sink, on a run, cleaning toilets, folding laundry. And my soul is still thirsty. I have been working toward 10-15 minutes in the morning and evening, and it is changing me. Really. Taking the lead from a recent book on prayer (Tim Keller, Prayer p. 252-255) I am reading the Psalms, trying to read one in the morning and one in the evening. First I acknowledge the privilege of prayer – that God of all creation, is present and listening to me, asking him to help me pray. I read a Psalm, a few times, note a verse that sticks out. Then I read that verse 3-4 times over and over. And ask, what does this tell me about God? The Father, Son and Holy Spirit? What does this tell me about me? Any examples to follow, or sins to be avoided, promises to hold onto? Then summarize that verse that sticks out to me. Then I turn this into a meditation through adoration, confession, and petition:
- Adoration… What does this text show me about God for which I must praise and thank him?
- Confession… What does this text show me about a need I have? What happens when I forget this truth or live counter to this reality? Why might you be showing me this now, Lord? A moment of confession and repentance. And how is Jesus Christ or the grace I have in him crucial to helping me overcome the sin I have confessed or answering the need I have?
- Petition… How would this change my life if this truth were fully alive and effective in my inward being? Pray for the way this is opening my heart to the world around me, and what is going on in my life that God would be bringing this to my attention today? In light of this, Lord, I am asking…
- Pray for any pressing needs or concerns.
- Take a final moment to enjoy him and his presence.
This fresh communion has caused Jesus’ love to go deeper than some of my angst, need for control, fear of the unknown, and pain or loss. His love is beginning to mean more to me than anyone or anything else, becoming even more real. I invite you – take the time, follow this really simple pattern, for a couple of weeks – and you’ll see. You’ll see and be seen like you haven’t been for awhile.
Sometimes I fall asleep with my kids… like before 8 p.m. And then wake up just before 2 a.m. and have to figure out where my mind and thoughts will go. When this happens, sometimes I use the time to ‘be productive’. And this is almost always unhelpful for me personally, even if it is effective for other areas of my life. It takes repeated effort for me to self-care. There are roots here in my early story, but the reality now is that I want to write the ending. I recently had an MRI for a wrist injury — it is mesmerizing to see the inside of the body. I looked at my hand, and could not see any particularly spiritual portion, or the ‘earthly’ part. There is just me. Integrated, woven in with one another, body and soul breathing the breath of life together, so inextricably linked that it takes death to separate them. So I need to sleep and so do you. And we need to exercise. And eat better than we do. Not because we think we need to look like something or fit into a size of jeans. But because the soul and the body rest better when they rest together. Because we are fearfully and wonderfully made, lovely, and our bodies are the holy place in which we + the Triune God dwell – a home worth celebrating, taking good care of, and loving. Value you. Get some sleep. And nourish that temple for all she is, and all she holds.
I hope some courage has swelled in that strong, resilient, sometimes weary and occasionally super sensitive, hard-working heart of yours. I hope you can celebrate all the verb-ing you are, the lane you are in, and trust that where your work stops, his grace is more than sufficient. And he’s making all things work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) — girls, that’s definitely us.