I shoved the toy train towards his chest, grumbling something about how he's a big boy and should be able to find his own toys by now. Even though I hadn't touched him, he stumbled back a little from my harsh movements. His whining immediately stopped and he looked up at me through his glasses with sad, and almost a little scared, eyes.
I broke. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't fair to take it out on him. I dropped to my knees, wrapped my arms around him, pulled him close and whispered, "I'm sorry sweetie, forgive me?"
He melted into me; forgiveness comes so easily to the young ones.
All day I had been short on patience. Short on self-control. Short on love. It wasn't my children's faults, but I had nowhere to shed my frustrations, confusion, disappointment. So it came out on the innocent.
I stepped into a bedroom and blinked back tears trying to refocus. I breathed deeply and returned to the children, distracted and unfocused on the present - unable to be the mom I want to be, the mom I should be - because my worries, burdens and doubts fogged my ability to be in the present.
Today I am certain I am a martyr, certain God will never give me what I wish for. Certain that I will have to continue to watch my friends, family - and thanks to the internet - complete strangers win and receive, over and over again. God wringing out his cloud of blessing on them like rain, and me, stuck in the dry, parched desert, overlooked and unremembered.
I hear my daughter's frustrations as her cry cracks through my thoughts. I pick her up off tummy time and hold her in my lap. My toddler wants something, but I can't quite focus fast enough to meet his need before he starts to bang the block on the table with impatience. I just stare at him, wondering why he seems to enjoy the loud ringing in his ears, and wondering if he'd ever just stop on his own.
With the block banging on the table, I fall deeper into my thoughts and wonder where God is. I selfishly think, "I have been good - this is how He repays me?" There is a void of doubt in me, it feels that everyone else can ask for wild, crazy things and receive them, but I am stuck with the dull and boring - the leftovers. I receive basic sustenance of the bread and fish, while he lets others discover the treasures of the field. I wonder why he shows his love to everyone else, but not to me. I resign myself that I will always be the orphan, believing I have a father, but never feeling his love, his joy, his affection, his delight in me.
Although at times I have, in this moment, I don't doubt that God loves me, I just doubt that he will ever let me feel it.
I know that he is not, but lately I have been treating God like a genie god. Bribing him with my righteousness to give me what I want. Like I carry his lamp in my pocket waiting for the moment when I believe I have it right to rub that lamp and wish from him far more than I could ever ask or imagine.
But every time I do the genie never appears - because that's not how it works.
And so today, I have decided to stop asking for the things I dream. Because no matter what I do, I cannot find his love. I believe I must not deserve it, or am not meant for it, or God just doesn't want me to feel it and so I will stop asking.
I can't focus this day on my job, my role as a mother. Though my children are literally on top of me, I am far away and distracted, and the mom-guilt rises in my chest. I don't want to be thinking only about me and my dreams and hopes and righteousness and what I deserve and what I don't. The tears spring into my eyes again as I recognize my pride and selfishness and my toddler notices. He stops his plane in mid-air and says, "Momma cry. Momma sad," and touches my cheek with his chubby, dimpled hand.
***Have you been there? Have you wondered where God is? Have you wondered if He is truly FOR you? If you are good enough for Him to love you, bless you and give you good things? Or do you feel passed over? Overlooked? Unremembered?
Maybe it's that you're lonely and need friends.
Maybe it's chronic sickness in the family.
Maybe it's an extra needy child.
Maybe it's your marriage.
Maybe it's a big move you're not ready for.
Maybe it's that breastfeeding isn't going how you'd hope.
Maybe it's a job, or the need of one.
Maybe it's a broken friendship.
Maybe it's a pregnancy that hasn't happened yet, or one that has ended in loss.
Maybe it's that you can't lose those last 10 pounds.
Maybe it's a combination of the above and more.
Or maybe it's just a tough day, week, month, year.
Is it affecting your mothering? Your ability to be present with your children? Your daily joy? Your ability to love and be loved?
A few months pass and my perspective shifts. It's not perfect, it's not finished; I am always a work in progress. Nothing has really changed in terms of my dreams and which ones he has chosen to make or not make a reality. But I know more now. I know the fault is mine for coming to God and asking for only what he can give me, believing deep down it was what He owed me.
A few months ago, all I cared about were my needs, desires, hopes and dreams. I was disappointed with God and questioning his goodness. I didn't believe that he was for me, because I didn't remember that he chose me. I wasn't trusting him to love and be good to me, because I was only looking at what I loved and my own goodness. I had been collecting my righteousness like pennies in a wishing well, just waiting for God to make one of them true - when that's not the way it works.
The thing is mommas, we're supposed to be both the persistent widow knocking on the door at midnight while also trusting Him to care for us like the sparrow in the field. There are seasons to ask, and there are seasons to receive. But it's not about what we ask for and what we don't. It's about what we're looking at, what we care about, what we're concerned for, what our heart says.
I was missing the point, ignoring the cross. I had forgotten the manna in the jar that never spoiled and only looked to the ones I hoarded overnight that turned to worms. I was so caught up in wanting to feel proof of his love that I had lost the wonder in the fact that He loves me at all and chose me first. As mothers, we spend our days pouring out, giving, giving, giving. Yet it's amazing how selfish we still are at the core. I was spending my days grumbling about my goodness instead of being grateful for His. I was disappointed in his decisions instead of delighting in the only decision that mattered, the decision I never deserved - the cross.
I've been wobbling these past few months, teetering between truth and lies. But today my heart is humbled by the cross. Remembering and believing truth.
Mommas, when our vision is corrected, when our blind becomes sight, we will know. He lavishes grace upon grace on us daily. He is our deepest joy. Our greatest victory. He is for us and never against us. We have not been forgotten or overlooked - we are remembered and looked upon. The thing is, we just need to take the time to learn to draw our eyes off ourselves and onto him. To stop searching the floors for crumbs of our own righteousness and instead raise our sight to the table with the feast of Righteousness Glorified.
This is all you need to know for today. You don't need to know the plans for tomorrow or the why of yesterday. All you need to know is that it is not about you, it is about Him. That His ways are not your ways, and it is good that way.
He is good in that way.
He is the blessing, he is the gift. He sings over you. He delights in you. He treasures you. He rejoices in you. He loves you in more ways than you will ever see. Once we stop concerning ourselves with feeling loved and instead focus on being consumed with loving Him and giving him our lives - only then will we see and feel the greatness of the love and blessing he has already given.
Open your ears and hear the sweet sound of amazing grace, step down and feel the solid rock on which you stand, look up and survey the wondrous cross. Take back your days as a mother. Be present with your children because you can trust that everything is being taken care of. Believe you have worth and value and that You. Are. Loved.
Although not everything is what you want, everything is as it should be. Stop fighting and let him be first in your heart. Believe what you know and know what you believe - because it changes everything.
He is full of goodness. He is a good God. He is good to us. He is good to you, momma.
Image: Anne Golliher