I woke with my heart singing today. As the sun rose, it shone in through my windows. Opening them, I could feel the fresh breeze pass through the house. The grass is coming up green now, and yellow daffodils are coming up in the garden. Cardinals, robins, and sparrows hop around in the yard and I can hear them singing along with me, a happy song of praise to the Creator that made us both.
I hear the baby stir in the crib. I go in, pat his back, and he settles down and goes back to sleep. I read my Bible, hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee, and say my prayers. Then I empty the dishwasher and get the laundry started. I put my make up on and do my hair. There it is. 8am and I’ve already been productive. It’s going to be a good day.
I get breakfast ready with a smile, welcome the sleepy children with crazy bedhead with hugs and kisses. I tease them, laugh with them, cuddle with them, and make funny faces around the breakfast table. I watch as my heritage blooms beneath my care. I can see my work producing fruit. Gabriel putting letter sounds together, Matthias trying to put on his Dad’s shoes and figure out how the smaller blocks fit inside the larger ones… I send my husband off to work with a packed breakfast and goodbye kiss.
Everything is good and right and beautiful. On days like today, it’s easy to feel like a Christian. A child of God. A faithful follower. I am doing my job well and the joy in my heart bears testament to that. I am a Christian, and Christ is with me.
Today, I woke up exhausted. The kids have runny noses and a cough that has kept them up half the night. Gabriel wet the bed not once, but twice during the night. He always wakes up grumpy and takes a long time to calm down afterward. Of course, his loud cries also wake up the baby. Both want to be held. Both don’t want the other child anywhere near them.
Because of such a disrupted night, I let myself sleep in a little. Now it’s 8:15 and both kids are howling. It’s rainy outside, dark and overcast. Even the coffee I swallow down doesn’t seem to help. I look at my Bible, disappointed in myself that I slept through whatever quiet time I could have had. No time for prayers. I can’t think clearly while the kids are screaming.
Pulling my unbrushed hair back into a ponytail, I try to wipe yesterday’s makeup from beneath my eyes so I at least won’t scare anyone. Laundry is piling up in the bathroom and it smells badly from the accidents the night before. No time to start a load. No time to clear the dishwasher. The kids need me and they need me now.
Gabriel’s not sure what he wants for breakfast, but he doesn’t want food. Matthias negotiates his terms of happiness by being cheerful only if he’s allowed in my lap and can eat off of my plate. Somehow, my food tastes better. Of course, that looks like special treatment to Gabriel, who wants to get in my lap now too. Matthias doesn’t like competition and tries to shove him away. Gabriel shoves back, his 3 year old strength more powerful than his 1 year old counterpart. Matthias cries. I discipline Gabriel for pushing, which seems inconsistent to him, since the baby did it first. He collapses on the floor in tears, convinced that I don’t love him.
I put Matthias back in the high chair to deal with Gabriel’s sensitive emotions. Matthias screams in anger at being abandoned. Gabriel cries. I want to cry. I’m starving and the kitchen is a mess. I can’t find counter space for all the dishes.
I can’t do this mothering thing. It’s too hard. It’s too much to ask. I’m ruining my kids. I’m not being consistent. I’m not being loving. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a good enough Christian. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t spend time in the Word today. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have time for prayers.
I don’t feel Christ with me today. I don’t feel his peace. It’s hard to feel blessed among the screams. It’s probably my fault. I’m doing something wrong. And because I’m doing something wrong, Christ has withheld his favor. Where is the closeness I felt yesterday? Why have all the good feelings evaporated? Was it never really there at all?
Have I pushed Christ away? Am I in this alone?
Let’s get something straight, ladies.
The same Christ that appeared to his people on Resurrection Day, was with them as they faced the deaths of the martyrs. As Peter hung upside down on his cross, suffering and dying, Christ was with him. Did Peter feel him? Did he feel his presence? Did he feel his peace? As John burned in oil, did he worry that he had not time to read his Bible that day? As our brothers and sisters around the world suffer for the gospel, do they feel incompetent, useless, incapable too? Do they worry that his peace is not always felt?
I don’t know. But that doesn’t change the fact that Christ is with them.
God knows, my kids both screaming at the same time is painful enough for me to feel faithless. But this pain is God-given. This is my suffering. This is me being faithful. This is me dying to myself. This is me picking up my cross.
My duty, my job in bringing about this Kingdom. It’s all done here. With these children. Even on the bad days.
And whether we feel him or not… Christ is with us.
So be encouraged, ladies. We can always learn new tips and tricks to make life easier, but there will always be both good and bad days. Hopefully more of the first and fewer of the last, but not always.
Don’t doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light. Whether we feel it or not, Christ is with us.