Saturday, August 3, 2013

When Will Life Begin?

This is a follow-up post I wrote for a MOPS blog after I gave a talk to a lovely group of moms. If you'd like to read more about the talk, you can check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


Have you ever caught yourself unintentionally singing a song from a cartoon your kids like? My girls watch My Little Pony nonstop these days, and now I catch myself humming the theme song after one of their Saturday morning marathons. (I think the people in the grocery store are appreciative of my magical spirit when I go shopping on those days.)

Another song that often plays in my head is “When Will My Life Begin?” from Tangled. Rapunzel dances around the tower she has been locked in most of her life. She dreams and draws and cleans and does the same things day after day with no reprieve. Her life is rote and she has only been given a small window with which to see the world.

As moms it can be hard to get up and do the same things day after day. We cook and clean and draw pictures of animals for our little ones because we love them. But we also know that these things need to be done.

Beyond that, we are often given the impression that we should be at every Bible study with our workbook pages fully filled in, have our children in multiple activities, and not only make dinner but it should come with a perfectly frosted cake with a cherry on top. Every single night.

Our homes ought to be perfectly painted and organized with labels. We should pray with our children each night and memorize verses with them too.

Soon it becomes too much. Then, one evening I’m doing laundry while dinner is boiling over on the stove while asking my children for the sixth time to pick up their toys in the living room before I step on them. The phone rings with someone from church, and I shut it off because there is no way I will be able to talk with that person above the noise. Then I feel guilty for not being available…

And that’s when I start singing, “When will my life begin?” because surely this is not it. It’s out there, beyond the windows. The better way that Jesus talked about with rest and freedom? He meant I might have that in 10-15 years, right? Right?!?!

Glennon Doyle of recently suggested two things about living each day:

1. Show up
2. Pay attention

Four words? I think I can handle that.

Beyond that, I’ve been asking God what those words mean. What do they mean for me? What do they mean for us as moms and women and His daughters?

Because I see how Jesus did that when He came. We see this in the account with Martha and Mary. Jesus was able to speak truth to Martha about her expectations because He showed up to her home and her life, and He paid attention to why she felt she had to do more.

Showing up and paying attention involves being present to the moment, even the crazy ones that have us juggling three things at one time. Showing up means we acknowledge the activities for the day, and we wait for God to reveal Himself as we engage in what needs to be done. Paying attention involves seeing the world with new eyes because we are made new in Him more and more each day.

When Jesus left earth, the Father sent The Helper—the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is who enables us pay attention. Not only to our own surroundings but also to who God made us to be and what He would have us to do each day. The Holy Spirit enables us to know when it’s a good idea to say “no” to an activity that might impede on an opportunity to rest, even if we feel we should do this thing in front of us. The Holy Spirit helps us take notice of the passions and gifts God has given us because He is also the One who endows us with the gifting.

And then, during our days, we can ask, God, what are you doing here? Right here, right now? Our routine activities become an opportunity for prayer, even simple prayers, for prayer is both speaking and listening.

For years, my attitude for laundry was to toss it in the dryer with frustration while I muttered about how it never goes away. Ever. There’s also cooking dinner. I am personally not a fan. Not only do I struggle to not burn dinner each night, there is the inevitable pile of dishes waiting for me after everyone is in bed. It’s like the kitchen has a personal vendetta. It mocks me daily.

But then, for whatever reason, one day I started scrubbing a pan and muttering words to God. Suddenly I realized that the natural rhythm of cleaning and folding laundry could be something more than a necessity. I could talk to God while I did such things.

I remember one day I received a phone call from some family friends who found out their mom had breast cancer. Their mom was also very special to me. I was grateful I had made lasagna that day. I had some serious things to ask God for on behalf of the ones I cared about. This became my ministry. It didn’t come with fancy nametags and standing up teaching a Bible study. But it was important to me and to God all the same.

When I fold laundry, I ask God to bless my children and my husband. If it’s a soccer uniform, I pray for fun and safety in the next game or practice. If it’s pajamas, I pray for what my daughter calls “sweet dreams.” (Those usually involve cupcakes or My Little Pony, of course.)

God is already working in your life. Yours. The one that has begun. With the chaos and the dirty diapers and multiple minivan trips to the store to get milk. If we have to pick a checklist to live by, let’s go with:

1. Show up
2. Pay attention

Because that is where we find grace in the everyday. And the rest and the freedom. Those are the moments of grace that go beyond when we first said, “Yes, Jesus, I want to follow You.” In A Beautiful Mess, Kristin Ritzau writes, “Grace means not escaping the mess and learning to experience life amidst the muck.”

When will your life begin? It already has.

“Listen. Are you breathing just a little bit and calling it life?” -Mary Oliver