On the Days You Feel Like Nothing You Do Matters

I see you, Mama.

I see you on the side of the pool with children clinging to your legs. They scream, then run away from you, and from the swim instructor waiting to guide them out of fear. I see your pasted smile, your clenched jaw. I see the what-do-I-do-now look in your eyes as you chase fleeing little feet.

And I hear you Mama.

I hear you in the restroom at the grocery store, voice a little too loud, a little too harsh as you berate the small person on the toilet for not telling you sooner, as you wonder what on earth you will do with these soggy pants and a half-naked child.

I feel you tremble, Mama.

I feel your shoulders shake as I wrap my arms around you for a gentle hug after you tell me how exhausted you are, how the baby is teething and your husband is working overtime and your house is a disaster and you need to lose the weight but you just can't get off the couch.

Some days it all feels just too hard... doesn't it, sweet weary Mama? Some days it's all correction and breaks and spills and tears running down cheeks. Everyone's cheeks.

Those people, those tiny little sinners given over to your care, oh they wear you right out. Yes and how.

And the day ends and you look in the mirror and wonder what you got done and think how pretty you used to be in the old days. But now your face sags and your hair is limp from the quick wash and ponytail. Your clothes are stained and wrinkled and you don't even care.

And you wonder if what you do matters any more.

If you matter.

So let me tell you this, Mama.

Those little sticky smelly people? You are their world.

You are their Queen, their teacher, their Julia Child. You are master of their domain... exquisitely beautiful... everything they want to be.

You are their best friend.

With fat crayons they scribble love notes to you that look like so many scratched lines, because they are your secret admirers. The crushed handful of flowery weeds is a giant bouquet for their beloved.

You're it Mama. You're the only mama they have. You are The One. You matter in their lives more than anyone else right now. More than anyone, Mama.

What you say to them today will mold and shape them in ways you can't comprehend. How you live love for them will teach them what it means to be God's girl, what it looks like to walk that right out where you walk every day.

Every giving, every offering makes a difference. Each time you take a deep breath and speak cheerfully instead of shouting blesses. You're being refined by fire Mama. Fire.

This. Is Worth. It.

Get right on your knees when you feel like you can't take one more moment. Go squeeze yourself into a closet, lock yourself in the bathroom, find a place for a moment and cry out, cry hard, Mama.

Cry out to God and tell Him that it's too much. Tell Him how much you need help. How they make you crazy and you're afraid you'll mess up and you're just plain worn out.

He is faithful to hear you. You're His girl. He will hear and He will help.

Lay it down. Lay it all right down at His feet, Mama, all that fear and worry and exhaustion and loss. Choose to be a servant. Choose to walk in His shoes and give it all. Give it all to these little wild ones growing in your house.

This is forever work. It doesn't look glamorous, but this service has fruit that lasts for eternity. This is soul shaping and mind growing work that matters.

As you raise those little people and continually, gently point them in the right direction, you are continually and gently being pointed in the right direction yourself. You can't do this without Jesus, Mama.

He's your direction.

Wipe your face, beautiful daughter of the King. Stand tall, stand firm. Walk in love. It matters.

Distraction: The Thorn in My Side

When I was a teenager I watched soap operas.

I would come home from school, flop on the couch and turn on the TV.

Even then I was aware of the disconnect between a girl who was passionate about great literature and philosophers, and a girl who watched General Hospital obsessively.

It was escapism, pure and simple.

I was overwhelmed by the pressures of school, both academic and social, and it felt good to check out for a while. Especially by watching people in gripping crises. They had it so much worse than I did, it made me feel better about my own life.

I wasn't kidnapped. I wasn't a spy with a horrible facial disfigurement prosthesis (yes, a prosthesis that makes you look like you are disfigured.) No life and death struggle. I was just an awkward teenager trying to keep up with her homework and not get her soul crushed by mean kids at school.

Plus there were weddings. Lots of weddings.

Thirty years later? I don't watch soap operas any more. But I do fall prey to escapism. Every. Single. Day.

The agent of my distraction is a smart phone. My beloved iPhone with its "just one quick check" email. Its "I'll pop on for a sec in case there's something urgent" facebook app. Its "Oh let's look that up" web browser.

Always a good excuse. Always a time suck.

"Portrait of the Artist with Her Smart Phone"
"Ladies' Restroom Art"

I don't have time to fritter away on the web. But how easy is it to follow a bunny trail from a news site and find myself on the wikipedia page of an old actor? Or look for a recipe for paleo cookies and end up reading twenty because "there's got to be a better one"?

Not. Helpful.

Insanity--> The woman with time management issues looks up time management solutions. On. The. Phone.

I don't want to do it. My heart and the rational part of mind say STOP! But the other part of my mind, the apparently self-sabotaging part, says "Just for a minute."

The solution? Obviously, self-discipline. And that's going great, let me tell you. Been trying that for a good while now and it's going just great. *rolls eyes*

I don't really know. Phone in time out sounds like a possible option to me. Someone in my house would have to be the phone babysitter.

I try not to be on the phone when my kids are around. And I try to limit my time on the computer. I installed Rescue Time. I get up early (reallllllllly early) so that I can work when they are sleeping. Yawn.

Still, those stolen moments on my phone in the kitchen, or while I am folding laundry... they add up. Popping over to social media sites while programs I use for real work on the computer are loading... adds up.

And in all this distraction, I know there is something deeper going on, just like there was when I was escaping the trials of adolescence by watching soap operas. As logical as I can make all my online activity out to be, I am running away from something bigger.

I am avoiding writing.

Writing is hard. Not the putting down of words. I can type a lot of words, very fast. Words = easy.

No, the hard part of writing is the baring. The ripping off.

It's not fun to reveal the lumps and wrinkles and stretch marks of your soul.

But I have to write. Not just because it's how I was made, but because this blotchy mess has known no greater joy than growing with the Father. No greater hope than pursuing a life that honors Him.

I must write because I love Him so, and long to tell the world that all the bruises and scars and flaws are made beautiful in His good time.

So to those few faithful readers who have stuck around for the past almost three years (!) despite a wildly fluctuating pace of posts, I thank you. I need your advice for taming my "Just for a minute" disease. Please help! Give me your best ideas!

You will know it is working when you see me writing about something other than not writing. ;-)

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