I'll apologize in advance. This one stings a little, but here goes. Mothers and wives need spiritual, physical and emotional healing from the brutality of our job. It's hard. Hard on the body, mind and soul. Our Creator acknowledges our need for rest, and in fact, He tells us that HE will give us rest. He will fill our cup to overflowing. He is our fortress and refuge, as if we're doing battle, and He is how we regroup for another round. So please know that what I'm about to say should in no way be construed as suggesting that moms don't need a break, a retreat, a recharged battery or that we should not take time for those things. I'm not saying that. I'm talking about where we get them.
Recently, I had a discussion with a dear friend via email. It started with talking about the frustration moms can feel at not being able to finish just one cup of coffee while it's hot, not being able to just sit through an entire lunchtime or finish our lunch before it's cold, not getting the respite we're so hungry for, day in and day out. Oh, when will my kids be old enough for me to get a quiet moment? I mean, I deserve to finish just ONE cup of coffee while it's hot, right? I can't remember the last time I slept through the night (and my kids are not tiny babies). I serve all day long. I plan, I love, I work. Just one cup of coffee is not too much to ask, no?
The usual answer to this is, "oh, your kids will grow up in a blink, and you'll miss it and forget how hard it was," or "this is such a short season of life, and it will pass and get better," or "here's how I cope" type tips. These words are meant to be encouraging, and there can be truth to them. But I think that ultimately, they undermine the TRUTH.
Oh how I have struggled, agonized, fought the war in my head over the need to tend to my little ones and my need for a full cup. It's easy to think about how to do that, too, when you spend so much time at the end of your rope, as so many moms do. (Incidentally, I think this is by design, since the end of my rope is usually at the foot of the cross.)
After six years of struggling, asking friends how to fit in the quiet time, the hot coffee, get the kids to play nicely just long enough to have my lunch without mediating, intervening, spanking, comforting or serving, I have my answer, hallelujah. And the answer to whether or not my hot coffee is too much to ask for is: yes. Yes, it is. If that coffee is what I need to make it to nap time, bedtime, tomorrow (not physically, but emotionally), then yes, that hot coffee is not what I need. I have not earned it. I do not deserve it. I am not entitled to it, and to think otherwise is to believe the lie.
For years, I've pitted in my mind and my heart to serve in the mission field of my family against the message I was getting from other well-intentioned moms, from Oprah, from the super-fit, lycra-clad, perfectly coiffed and showered and Starbucks-toting BOB jogger-pushing mom leaving the park after her 2-mile jaunt at an hour I was proud to drag my crew into it. Their answer? You deserve a break, and you too can get your act together if you follow these 7 easy steps, so that you can get the hot coffee, the lunch, the quiet time, the spa escape you need to feel whole again.
But I had such guilt at feeling like I needed a break. I beat myself up over strategizing and fantasizing about sending my kids off for a week, for thinking I NEEDED to fit these retreats from responsibility into my regular schedule. Then I felt bad for feeling guilty about feeling like I needed a break. Oh, the angst I suffered over this tugging.
But to you, guilt, I offer my apology. I know that you were just my conscience. To the Holy Spirit who persistently and patiently pursued me in the desert of my wandering, thank you for not giving up. I know now that I was being lied to. I was being led to an idol of my own comfort and entitlement. The Enemy dressed itself up and told me that I was entitled to a hot cup of coffee, to going to the bathroom uninterrupted, to a full night's sleep, to new clothes, to more frequent girls' nights out (OUCH). That I deserve and need them. Oh, the lies. Hold all those lies of entitlement and neediness up to the light of Scripture, and they wither and flake away like the gross two-foot high collection of wall boogers I've started noticing around my house.
Sweet Holy Spirit, you stirred my conscience, and I didn't understand why I felt uneasy about the advice I was getting. But now I do, and I'm so slow to recover and call that spade a spade. Forgive me! Here's what I'm entitled to: a sinner's death immediately. Every moment I draw breath and serve is an immeasurable mercy to me. I do not deserve hot coffee. And I do not need it, either. If I need it to do my job, I am trying to cross a spiritual gulf on stepping stones. Here's what's really not fair: my perfect Savior died my humiliating death FOR ME. He died, that I might live. And here is what I NEED: Jesus. Not coffee. Not a GNO. Not an uninterrupted viewing of Swamp People (or whatever your poison is). Just Jesus. If He's not more than enough, we have a serious problem.
Friends, no one is a worse offender than me. I battle daily, all day long, my sense of entitlement, my need for my own time out. I even give up the battle all too often (so many times every single day) and just give in. I am bad at this, and I am not a good example. But sinner that I am, I've heard the Truth. I've outed myself before as an idol worshiper, and I'll do it again.
I am not advocating throwing out the coffee maker or quitting the gym. I'm encouraging you that leaning on them in the place of on Jesus is to tread into dangerous waters. It is idol worship, and we must stop it. Enjoy your coffee; don't worship it. Go to your GNO, and encourage your sisters in the Word, not the world. I cherish my time with dear friends over coffee; I am recharged by naps and time alone. These are gifts that the Lord has given me, because He loves me. Not because He wishes for them to usurp His throne in my life. I'm encouraging us to lean wholly on Jesus to do the battle we do in raising godly children and being godly wives for His kingdom and His glory. And I'm encouraging you to keep one another accountable.
Thanks for coming back.