Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Underneath are the Everlasting Arms

I understand that I should not complain that motherhood is hard.  That I should remember that I signed up for this.  That I dreamed of it my whole life.  I know that the days are long but the years are short.  I know that someday I will miss all of this.  I understand that I should be enjoying every. single. second.  I'm trying.  But sometimes when I'm on my third week of sick kids, my fifth night of sitting upright the whole night while holding a baby who can't breathe through his nose and who needs to scream for an hour and a half every three hours, sometimes, I'm just not enjoying myself.  I've spent the long night hours reminding myself that there are barren wombs wishing to be in this position.  That there are Mamas listening to their babies cry because they haven't eaten for days.  That I am under a roof, in a warm house with plenty of blankets.  I have Internet access and can look up 24 hour Urgent Care options at 3:00 AM if I want to.  I have a husband who gets up at 5 each morning to march off through a nasty commute on an over filled bus of coughing humanity just so that he can provide that warm house, those blankets, the Internet access, food for the hungry bellies and pay the doctor bills for sick kids.  My head knows these facts.  My heart works at being thankful.  But my arms feel like limp noodles, my feet stumble as I walk miles around and around the dark kitchen.  My throat is dry from singing "Jesus Loves Me" and my heart is racing while I tell myself to be calm.  I can't honestly say that these are the moments I dreamed about.  I can't honestly say that I will miss these exact moments.  I am not enjoying myself while I'm at the Urgent Care alone with four children...for four hours.  But I am thankful for many things during these moments.  The afore mentioned warm house, blankets, etc.  For a big 8 year old boy who can hold the baby while I pin down the kicking, screaming 4 year old for the nurse.  Thankful for kind and knowledgeable nurses  Thankful for a vehicle.  For medical insurance.  And for a Saviour Who can breathe calm into me when I don't have any calm within myself.  For a Friend Who holds my hand at 0 dark thirty and Who strengthens my arms when I am terrified that I will drop the screaming, thrashing, heavy baby. 

The past few nights I've been propping pillows under my arms before I start my night time vigil and I keep thinking about two things.  First, this verse from Deuteronomy 33 "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  And second, it makes me think of the story in Exodus when Moses is in the desert standing on the hill top with his helpers propping up his heavy, tired arms so that the Children of Israel could win the battle against Amalek.  Exodus 17:12 ends by saying "and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun."  Except in my case, it's until the rising of the sun.  And please, do not think that I am in any way comparing myself to that giant of  the faith, Moses. 
The Lord gifted me these children for a time.  He hurts when they hurt.  He created them for a purpose.  They are his.  It is simply my job to be an example of Him to them.  But how is that simple?  How is that simple when I want to scream and yell and use the excuse that I'm tired.  That this is hard?  It's not.   Unless I give up trying and yield fully to Him.  Maybe that's what the long nights are for.  Maybe it doesn't all have to be for naught.  Maybe my thick skull can finally open up and learn something. 
Last Sunday when I was home from  worship for my second Sunday in a row, we had a family reading from the book of Luke and we read about the Lord getting into the boat with his disciples.  He asked them to get in the boat with him.  They obeyed.  He went with them.  Life should have been peachy--right?  I mean, they obeyed.  They should have lived happily ever after.  Isn't that how I live my life?  God asks me to do something and I either fight, fight, fight and then finally yield.  OR, I obey right away and then expect a reward.  When my kids do that I laugh at them.  When they obey the first time and say "Do I get a treat, Mommy?", I laugh and say something like "for doing what you were told?  Sure, you get the treat of not being punished!".  But I somehow miss the irony that I live my life before the Lord that very same way, more often than not.  Back to the disciples on that boat.  Everything is not just peachy.  They are in the boat with the Lord and a storm comes up.  What is going on here????  Tadd poses the question to the kids and Ezra answers "The Lord is testing them."  Yes he is.  And they fail.  He has to ask them "Where is your faith?"  Just as he has to say to me every. single. day.  At least the disciples listened to him.  I'm often too busy not listening to hear His voice saying "Where is your faith?"  I forget that He is in the storm with me.
These days of motherhood might be what I dreamed of for many years.  And we did not enter into parenthood without much prayer.  But there still are trials.  And they are hard.  And I don't enjoy every single. second.  We got in the boat when He told us to--and He got in with us.  When He tests us, it is to teach us to trust Him better, to love Him more and to help us enjoy this life He has gifted us--and someday Heaven--more fully.  I was not sure how to stumble through this post about the messiness of motherhood.  And it is messy.  Broken bowl, box of cereal scattered on the floor with only 10 minutes to eat breakfast and run out the door to school messy.  Mommy wearing mismatched pajamas and slippers in the drop off line at the school messy.  Snot running down the face and eye lashes stuck shut from goop messy.  All I know is that this post has been chasing through my mind all those awake hours in the nights.  And, more importantly, He's in the boat with me.  He's holding my hand.  And underneath are the everlasting arms.  He reminds me with the chubby hand wrapped around my neck and the soft cheek resting lethargically on my shoulder.  He reminds me with the whispered word "Mommy".  He reminds me with the monkey-bar calloused hand holding mine while we walk across the playground.  He reminds me during the storm.  He reminds me what a blessed privilege it is to be the only one who can comfort this precious little scrap of humanity when he is miserable. 
I'll leave you with this gem of a quote from a very dear friend of mine who I look up.  She was admitting what she considered to be a fault in her parenting and she ended by saying  "Don't judge me! I do feed them!"  It made me laugh.  And laughter between sisters in Christ is just another reminder that underneath are the everlasting arms!


Anonymous said...

Sooooo many days I want to quit. Just leave, or die. I'm sure there's someone better for filling this job. Someone who could actually succeed, that would have energy and joy and be a good example to these watching eyes.
The kids are not so cute and tackle-able any more. They have braces and attitude and awful language and are right more often than me (and yes, they call me on the carpet). And they're sneaky and snotty. And hungry all the time (not at 3am any more, though). We eat less and less vegetables and more and more junk food. They scrounge. Nice mom. What am I here for - so God can prove that I'm worthless? Where are His arms? What is love? Other than a set of requirements that seize us and say, BE MORE, DO THIS, so that I'll love you? Of course, I know the love is always there - it's just that it seems I have to be good enough to actually be near, and I'm not that good. Scarier still, I don't even want to try and be that good any more.

~Holly~ said...

Thank you for this! You're not the only mom who goes through these thoughts. You took a lot of words right out of my mouth!

The Chatty Housewife said...

This is a beautiful post!

kdk said...

I hear you loud and clear! I like your comment, "too busy not listening." That's me!

These two verses help me during times like this: "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Gal. 6:9) But I faint all the time, in all sorts of ugly ways! Answer: "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14)

Our precious Savior has designed a race where the stumblers and the losers win. What a God we have.

Thanks so much for sharing this post; you've used a difficult time in your life to bless others! Besides, now I can remember to pray for you. :-)

robyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
robyn said...

Thanks for the good cry, Brooke. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. If I hear myself saying "one day at a time" again, I'll go crazy for sure.

Pat said...

Dear Anonymous,
In reading your comment I am really concerned about your level of discouragement. I don't know if you know who Gordon Hayhoe is, but he once told me that Satan takes advantage of us when we are physically weak. That is why he tempted the Lord at the end of 40 days of fasting. Weariness, even female hormones make us more vulnerable to his suggestions.Perhaps you just need a break, and if you are in the Puget Sound Region I would be happy to come babysit for you or help you clean. I am older, and not Mary Poppins, but Brooke can assure you that your children would at least be safe with me.Do you know a christian you trust and respect to talk to? We can't fight these important battles if we don't believe the Lord is for us.We tend to put ourselves in a performance category with Him, and He just does not operate that way with His children. Think about the story of the Prodigal son and the welcome he got when he returned.We all know that is a picture of 0ur
Father and His Love for us.One of the ladies here quoted the verse "He knoweth our frame;he remembereth that we are dust."I know Brooke would be very happy to talk to you if you know her.(Maybe you landed here randomly?) I am praying for you.

Megan Miller said...

Very well said Brooke. I doubt there is a mother out there that hasn't felt that way at some point or another or should I say at one season or another. Having an infant and all that goes with it, just amps up all of the frustrations of motherhood. And yet, we wouldn't change anything! Praying for you, dear sister!

Anna said...

So there is this epic book out in the world of books that I just love (aside from the Bible of course...and I think the "anonymous" would love it to :)). It is called "Loving the little years-life in the trenches" by Rachel Jankovich. Seriously, changed my life. I have no idea how you do it with four-none. Our kiddos were sick for a week and I about lost it...but 4!!! That is like exponentially more! Please tell the anonymous poster about that book to-it helped me to see Jesus in the most beautiful light, especially in parenting. love you