The promise of “fresh starts” and “new days” make a lot of losers out of us in the mid-afternoon and night. It is easy to embrace grace and mercy in the morning – in the quiet, in the solitary sparkle of an early morning. “His mercies are new every morning!” Yes, and amen. But His mercies are new every moment as well.
I have always been more of an “all-or-nothing” type of girl. Bulimia thrives in a heart with this tendency. A perfect example of this has even manifested itself in writing for this blog. “Why would I write if I cannot contribute two posts a week? Might as well not write at all!” But lately, and with much deeper concern, I have seen this animal rear its ugly head in my life as a parent. (So while this is not a specific bulimic post, it is very similar in that my heart has been stuck in a pattern of thinking that bulimia loves to foster in order to self-preserve itself.) So, back to the “all or nothing” mentality. Bulimia took this and ran with it. “Oops, you purged! Might as well purge the rest of the day…you can always restart tomorrow.” And that is what I like to call “The Lie of Tomorrow.” It is a lie that keeps today in perpetual failure. It is a lie that slays any hope to fight in today’s afternoon or today’s evening.
Parenting…it has been hard lately. Not that it has ever been easy. But lately, it has brought me lower than I thought possible. (Anyone imagined oneself floating on the hill tops of the Alps with the von Trapp children full of limitless love and song?!). It has brought out shouts of anger and swears whispered under my breath. It has stripped any self-righteousness from me so that I wonder how Jeff can still even want to be my friend. It has made me question who I am, why my personality has changed, and how could I have ever at one point wished for six children (I have four).
Much has changed since I had posted in August how I would write 1-2x a week. We took one of our children out of school. So I am now homeschooling a child who has extreme similarities to myself, which is mortifying as well. The kids and I have slowly come to grips with the fact that the phrase “Today, daddy has a day off” is code for “Today, we get to be extra quiet because just beyond that bedroom door, daddy will be sleeping all day.” On the unusual occasion that Jeff is around, I feel like it is simply an opportunity to take a huge deep breath before we go under the waves again. We had such a day yesterday. A Sam’s Club run was in order and in the time that it took to bring in the groceries from the van (of course I had aspirations to meal prep for the week!), there was a sudden dripping from the kitchen ceiling. Our three-year-old and five-year-old, who had adorned themselves in full swimming gear, goggles and all, were “swimming” on their bathroom floor. An overflowing sink and a few minutes and it was raining in the kitchen. In the midst of running back and forth from the pool scene to the downstairs downpour, I caught my seven-year-old, who was supposed to have been watching our 16-month-old, who now had two huge bruises on his head from slipping and sliding in the water, standing under a steady stream from the kitchen with her mouth wide open, drinking brown water.
My desire in sharing this glimmer of yesterday’s life is that in wrestling with the “all-or-nothing” mentality, it is very difficult to climb back on the horse’s back once I feel like I’ve been vigorously and violently bounced off. One little sharp word, one unnecessary sigh, one glance and I feel justified to throw the baby out with the bath water. “Why keep trying today? You are already such a failure.” Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe tomorrow you will have organized things a little better, so that it would be harder to “fail” than to “succeed.” Maybe once you wipe the counters, your heart will magically be wiped of its grime and dirt.
And so the cycle continues. And its continuity in ensured because there will always be more crumbs to sweep up from the floor, there will always be more hidden maple syrup to wipe off your sticky sleeves, there will always be need to set out to quickly demonstrate a new math concept to your confused 7-year-old, who is currently flinging bits of crumbs from the table to your 16-month-old who is otherwise into hitting your 3 year old with anything hard, delighted that it makes such an outcry from his bigger, older brother.
Let us not let the lie of tomorrow keep us from the grace of Jesus today, in this moment. The lie of tomorrow stiff-arms Jesus, and we are left with empty arms, void of love for Him and for others. The solutions to our households are not found primarily in organization, but in finding Jesus. Let us embrace Jesus, and in doing so, our children will have confidence that our embrace is available for them, and even beyond this, that we desire their embrace.