I don’t know what happened to my week. But somehow, I managed to be so busy doing things, attending meetings, preparing for an upcoming retreat, getting together with people, and finishing errands, that there was no time left for stillness and quiet. Oh, it was a whole lot of good things. Yet all the busyness made me feel disoriented and a little bit lost in the unending movement from one day to the next.
Today, I came to that point when I was desperate for silence. I was longing for a deep rested-ness in my soul that only God could give. And it came. But I had to lock my bedroom door and keep the kids out.
It’s hard to find this kind of solitude with four young children perpetually clamouring for my attention. (Sometimes, I can’t even use the toilet in peace because they follow me all the way to the bathroom so they can have a conversation with me!)
At first I announced, “I am giving you a break. We won’t do work today!” Instead of hearing the cheers I was hoping for, I heard, “Aww! We want to do our work!” I know they meant this, too. The kids enjoy learning so the idea of taking a break didn’t light any fireworks. It was me who didn’t want to do any work! In fact, Elijah said, “Okay, so if it’s YOU that’s too tired to do work, then that’s okay. But if you were to ask me, I would like to do my work.”
Well, instead of teaching lessons, I did crafts with the kids. This was acceptable to them because at least we were spending the morning together. But after lunch, my emotional battery was running so low, I wanted to crawl into bed and take a nap.
I talked with them and said, “Mommy is very tired. I will rest this afternoon. I’m going to put a sign on the door.” The sign read, MOMMY NEEDS TO REST. I WILL COME OUT SOON. (Smiley face) And I asked Edan to make sure the sign was followed. Edan, my Mr. Responsible, took this to heart. He asked, “We will only come in if there is a problem, or we need something, or you need something, right?” (He always likes to know the parameters.) “Yes, thank you, hon,” was my reply.
After a few minutes, he came in and asked the sweetest thing. His question was, “For my work today, can I read stories to Titus? Is that okay? I will play with him first and then I will read to him.” Is that okay? What planet is this kid from? Carebear land? It was more than okay! “Of course that’s okay! That’s a great idea!”
So I got my space. The boys preoccupied themselves. I turned Tiana over to my househelp, and I locked myself in the bedroom.
I sat on my bed and read my Bible with half my body buried under the covers. Except for the annoying fluttering and drumming sound that has been bothering my right ear since yesterday (I will be going to an ENT tomorrow), it was all quite blissful.
After one week of too much activity, I am very much certain that sprinting through life and moving in hyper-drive is not really living. It may seem exciting to get a whole lot done in a day, but it gets spiritually exhausting. I end up with depleted resources – I don’t have the energy to serve my husband, my kids, or others. I can’t meet their need for love and attention the way I should. I end up worrying about what I’m supposed to do next and stressing out about schedules. And worst of all, I neglect the one thing that really matters – enjoying God’s presence and cultivating intimacy with him.
When I take time to enjoy God, I am reminded to consider, as Luke 12 says, the ravens and the lilies, how God takes care of them and how much greater our worth is to God than ravens or lilies. I am reminded to consider, as David did in Psalm 8, the heavens of God, the work of his fingers, the moon and the stars.
God wants me to consider who he is, what he has done for me, how much he loves me, and what he has in store for me. But when each day is crowded with activity, I miss all this.
I’ve got a whole lot of stuff to get done next week and I don’t know how it is all going to turn out. But I do know this: There is no excuse for missing my daily appointments with God. I cannot bypass BEING in his presence, being filled with him, or connected to his word. I can’t skip this whole part and expect to be prepared for the DOING part of my day. It’s like going on to a battlefield with no armor, no weapons, no backup, and no plan. So, I’m learning to lock the door if I have to!
The kids did just fine without me for a few hours. And after my “rest,” I emerged from my bedroom ready to take them all on. We went to the park, played catch, and walked back home in the rain. It was a good day.