Grace and Peace

The last few months since we moved Jacob and Meredith into the same bedroom have been hard on me. It didn’t occur to me that even if and when we could train them to share it successfully, it would still change the dynamic in my life drastically. Now no matter how baby-proofed the room is I can’t just ignore them when they’re alone there. I am constantly listening to make sure they’re not terrorizing each other, and that’s not something they’re going to grow out of in the next fifteen years. Sleep times aren’t as long, I often rush down two flights of stairs in the middle of the night, and I am on duty before 7:00 most mornings.

So I feel like I’ve barely been alone since 2013 began and it’s starting to show. When Jacob yells at Meredith because she is yelling for food I meet them with my own little attitude problem, no matter how well I’ve learned to modulate it to a calm set of carefully chosen words. I still know that on the inside I’m feeling something closer to “BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP OR YOU WILL BE MAKING YOUR OWN LUNCH.” It’s hard to face the fact that I feel so whiny toward my own precious kiddos, and even while they are still just babies.

And there is more than just the whiny heart. I’m tired, too. I run on momentum from the starting bell before sunrise until bedtime kisses, with the hope of feeling refueled in the last moments before I crash. But then there’s a mess to clean or look past (which I find more stressful than cleaning it up!) and there are piano lessons to teach and sometimes I just fall asleep. Neither Mike or I have energy to do much more than sit on the couch and watch TV, but we are a little short on satisfying options there lately.

By the time I fall into bed having failed to find the post-bedtime recharge I’d been hoping for all day, I have almost certainly complained to my sweet husband about how exhausted, defeated, or frustrated I am feeling about whatever particular flavor of sin and/or immaturity the kids have chosen to serve up for me that day or whatever household responsibility is currently going down in the most colorful flames. (Last week I lost one check on a friend’s lawn the same day I put another through the washing machine.)

The last few weeks all I seem to feel is physical tension and pain and incessant emotional and mental exhaustion. My feeling is just that I am not making it. Not, not, not. And now, please forgive the back story because what I really have to say is less depressing.

Sunday morning the kids got me up at 5:30 a.m. When they’d been quieted I sat on the couch with my Bible and J.C. Ryle hoping for something spiritually nourishing or maybe even energizing. Not knowing what to read and doubting that I’d really have ears to hear anyway, I thought I’d pray a few minutes, and began the sleep-pray-sleep-pray cycle that every Christian mother surely knows. At one moment I was awake enough to feel frustrated that I was neither praying well nor sleeping well, and disheartened that the simple practice of seeking God in silence is such a chore for me.

That’s when it hit me, like God Himself speaking as clear as day. Unsolicited, out of nowhere, dramatically opposed to my tendencies, my mind filled with Scripture’s images of God’s tender compassion, as if He were saying “Stop trying. I don’t need that from you right now. I will carry you. You try and do all day as a mother. Here with me just rest.” His character as gentle Shepherd soothed my soul. I went back to bed without a shadow of doubt that it was where God would be pleased with me and on some level I am still feeling the peace that flooded my heart in that moment, meeting me at the white-hot center of the desperate need of these days. The thought that He IS pleased with me; I don’t have to try, but just be where He puts me: this transforms everything and I feel I can shoulder it all with freshness.

Fast forward three days and find me bone-tired again this morning, driving Mike to school to spare him a rainy bike ride, kids buckled into carseats in their jammies. The complaining started even earlier than usual this morning as I admitted to him the anger I was feeling towards my kids when they were awake and whining before 7:00 a.m. while I tried to sort a mountain of paperwork at my desk before I had to put on my Mom Hat. I’d been seeing my own sin and turning from it again and again but still it felt as though I was doing something wrong.

In a silent space Fernando Ortega’s voice got through to me, offering Scripture: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace. Grace and peace.” “Peace” jumped out at me as it has endlessly this week since that moment of comfort, that image of God carrying me, gently leading those with young. Peace I understand. I remember it, feel it, choose it.

And then the juxtaposed “Grace” revived my cynical awareness of all the difficulty for an instant until its meaning dawned on me and it all made sense again. Over and over I look to my husband, hopeful for words to promise a solution or a change, or just words to make it better by being words. It’s a reflex, this assumption that if things are hard or kids or whiny (or moms are whiny) that things aren’t going right, that they need to be fixed. My husband just tells me I’m doing a good job and I’m thinking “Doesn’t seem to be good enough, now, does it?”

But that’s just the thing. Grace and peace. Peace: Rest; God is carrying you. Grace: It doesn’t have to be good enough. When you keep living, keep walking, keep cleaning up peas all over the floor when things are hard – that is how it should be. Nothing is wrong. This is how God means for it to be.

Grace: God is with you, for you, through all your weakness and despite all your sin.

Peace: God is carrying you.

Grace and peace.

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5 thoughts on “Grace and Peace

  1. Lovely thoughts, thank you! We watched some home videos last night and I couldn’t believe the feelings I remembered when seeing me holding a baby in arms, another by the hand, with the two only-slightly-older constant talkers right behind. Overwhelmed is right where you are, but you are right to notice that God has you in His hand. And I am here to say they do grow up! Love you!

  2. He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
    He will gather the lambs with His arm,
    And carry them in His bosom,
    And gently lead those who are with young. Is 40:11

  3. My darling, darling Susan, here I sit weeping, reading this post…filled with aching to make it all better for you in your weariness and frustration, longing to say oh my darling this IS how it”s supposed to be…you are just where our Lord wants you…and HE is in charge, knows your weariness, will comfort and sooth you to peace…….peace…….don’t try so hard, my darling…that is not His intent for your days…….lean on HIM as you walk through each trying hour…….HE will supply the energy and the peace……..YOU cannnot be the supply that HE is there to provide as you allow Him………and you know this even as you stumble from one hour to the next…. And how I remember remember similar days of long ago….what an amazing thing:; that our Lord trusts these new little bodies and minds to our training and care and loving………HE will never fail to guide and supply our hours and days and hearts….it is not….NEED not….be OUR efforts alone…we are his ‘agents’, yes, I guess we could say…but HE directs the hours and days and paths….always with His loving arms upholding us in this great weariness that mothers of small children know….. Oh my dearest, dearest Susan……Your Nonnie

  4. Came here via your mom’s blog. I’m Michael Morales’ sister in Stuart. Your words were so precious to me. Though I’m a seasoned mom with my oldest being 17, I’m also a new mom all over again with my 16 month old. This baby has been so different, never slept more than 3 hours at a time on a good night–her needs are very constant and different than my others and yet she is such a blessing. For this child I prayed after a 9 year gap. I am older, have health issues, and have busy teens which have made being a mom of young a little harder than my first go around. I accomplish so little everyday that its easy to be discouraged, plus the fact that I’m just so tired. But God is good. I’m right where He wants me to be, and my worth or success is not measured by what I finish. My house is more messy, I miss my sweet, lengthy quiet times with The Lord in the mornings, and I feel like I’m going in a hundred different directions at once, but I came to realize that tho my life doesn’t live up to my expectations, what The Lord is looking for is a yielded heart open to Him and at peace with His Providences. When that is my focus, my day feels complete and I get my joy and strength from my continual communion with Him (of course it helps to have Fernando playing in the background). Persevere! Thank you for putting to words my everyday experience! God bless!

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