The kids at White Beach, Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania.
I have days when I think, “Man I suck at this being a wife, being a mum, thing.” I look around and everything is a mess, the house, the spouse, the kids.
The hardest part on days like that is trying to find a place I can go where I don’t ‘suck’ so I can start to like my family, home and life again.
Jesus would walk out when things got intense, find a mountain or a quiet place, or go sailing, somewhere he could clear his head and pray. I can pray in the madness certainly, and I do, I talk about that here, but sometimes more is needed.
It’s about getting perspective. Removing yourself. I heard someone say once, “If you’re always stressed take an hour just to sit in the cemetery every day, you’ll soon get perspective on what you’re anxious about.”
Outdoors is it for me. Outdoors with space is awesome. Outdoors with space and water is a double bonus. Outdoors with space and in the water is the cream of the crop.
In the space under the sky I can find stillness, no matter how many kids I have running around my feet. In the stillness I can see that God has a different perspective. By, or in, the water I can feel refreshed. Refreshed I am grateful. Grateful I look at the day with different eyes.
This morning we were all scrabbling for space on the kitchen benches. Some days I look around at my kids in the mornings, doing their homework before 6am, practicing piano, making their own breakfast and lunches and helping me and each other clean the house and I feel warm inside but today I just felt anxious. The benches were piled extra high with randomly discarded stuff. Everyone was behind schedule despite getting up at the usual time. Arguments, complaints, loud-anxiety-ridden-games and injuries were the order of the day. No one even did their jobs apart from getting ready to get out the door.
Personally, I didn’t even make the two lunches I usually make for the younger two, put on shoes or brush my hair. I don’t think my husband heard anything nice before he walked out the door at 8am.
It was just one of those mornings.
The stress levels were up. No body wanted to go to work. The sunrise was glorious. Even the fine print on the back of the cereal box seemed to say, “It is way too nice to be cooped up inside today,” and they knew it.
Thankfully I spotted the discontent early and, instead of adopting it, I decided then and there just to let everything go, we would simply get to school, anything else would be a bonus. After school drop off I would take the younger two straight to the park by the water and we’d get ourselves sorted before coming home to clean up the mess.
Other days I’m not so savvy. If I don’t see what’s going on early I lose all perspective beyond the mess. I fixate on the mess and become messy myself. Those days I try to stop the arguments and I try to clear the benches instead of just keeping the ball rolling towards school. I also become legalistic and make the already stressed kids more stressed by insisting they finish everything on their list. I get so frustrated by the endless train of needs and wants and questions. Those are the days I end up wishing I hadn’t………..
I’m sure there was stress in Jesus’ family. Jesus said he had trouble doing miracles in his home town. At times his family, although they loved him, had a different agenda. His own brothers didn’t believe in him until after he was resurrected. He knew what it was like to be frustrated in his own home. I take comfort from the fact that he was part of a big family. Jesus had 5 brothers and at least two sisters. He knew what putting all those personalities together felt like. He is not surprised by our bad days.
But Jesus persevered and he bore fruit in his family. His brother James became a bishop in the church at Jerusalem. That gives me encouragement. Sometimes his way of persevering was to walk away from them because he had a different perspective. But he always did it in love and in the Power of the Holy Spirit, not in a spirit of frustration or disdain.
I am always in a crowded space. There is always someone in front of me. There is always someone wanting something, mostly someone is crying and someone else is waiting for me.
This morning, I told my son, “There are already two people ahead of you in the queue, it will be about a 10 minute wait!”
Sometimes all they want is to share something with their Mum. If I forget this is my ministry and focus on the natural state of things I get impatient.
But here’s the thing. No matter what I say to justify myself, it remains my ministry. I’m either doing it or I’m not. There are no levels or fractions of obedience. God has given me kids so I have been ‘called’ to kids ministry.
My ‘work’ does not start at 9am and finish at 5pm. There is no ‘getting ready for work’. Every minute is my ministry. Even if my teeth are dirty and I am still in my pyjamas. I have started and I won’t finish when I am asleep, I will still be ‘on call’.
When I look at Jesus’ ministry, it was like motherhood. He performed miracles ‘on the way’ to places, in inconvenient places and at inconvenient times. Even when he didn’t want to. Jesus had thousands following him, touching him, needing him, crying, hurting, waiting and following him wherever he went and yet he had compassion.
Matthew 9:36 says,
When he saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Other translations say they; were confused and helpless; were wearied and cast away; they fainted and and were scattered away; were wearied and worn out; were troubled and helpless; were weary and wandering; were distressed and disturbed.
That is my family and it is my ministry to bring them to Jesus.
Matthew 19:14 says,
Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Be encouraged in your ministry today, even when it’s inconvenient to “bring them to Jesus”.
Be encouraged to change your perspective.
Be encouraged that Jesus understands your day.
(I wrote this post in my journal last year when I still had two preschoolers. These days I only have one son at home with me. My youngest daughter began at Kindergarten this year. Re- reading it I see the way things have subtly changed already. It’s nice to reflect like this to see how much less intense it is as the kids get older. But what I wrote is still relevant and I hope you are encouraged. I am)
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God bless you today,
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