“Where are we going today Mommy?” “Mommy, Today we are going to go to the park… And we are going to play in the sprinklers… And have a picnic… Look! I packed our lunch”. And she pulls out a carrot and a water bottle. Once again, Anna is ready to go. Her antics both amuse and frustrate me. I find clean laundry removed from drawers and food packed in discarded grocery bags because she is going camping. In Anna’s mind there is always a new place to be.
I don’t know where this wanderlust came from. It’s a bit of a change from when she was two and we were on vacation. At the end of each day’s adventures we would pull up to the little cottage we were staying at and she would yell: “I want to go home now!” and then burst in to tears. Somewhere between now and then Anna has been struck by the wanderlust spirit and the thought of staying home to do laundry is beyond demoralizing to her little adventurer spirit.
In many ways she is the physical representation of what so often goes on in my own Spirit. I’ve been two year old Anna… I’ve grieved for the past. For what was familiar and “home”. I’ve compared friendships and church bodies. I’ve wanted to go back to my childhood and relive moments I felt could have been better. At some point though I moved past the grieving and in to the planning… Now this mind is always in the future… When the kids are older… When we go on vacation… When God finally does this, changes that… My list goes on and on. I ignore my discontent with where He has placed me at any given moment by immediately moving forward to the future. And a moment later I am grieving how quickly time is passing and the fast growth of my babies. My heart is restless and constantly churning.
I plan… I scheme… In my mind, I pack my bags. I am always preparing for the next step, because surely this isn’t “it”. I know the promises God gave me and this doesn’t measure up. We’ve been waiting so long…
I’m my own version of three year old Anna. At times I find myself so annoyed by this little being that is so very much like me. Her room is overflowing with toys. Her bed is soft and warm. The backyard is safely fenced in so she can access her swingset, sandbox and multitudes of other outdoor amusements at any time, but she still wants more. She has everything she needs for that moment and yet it’s never quite enough.
I’m 38 years old and yet at times I have the spiritual maturity of a three year old; packing up my bags with a carrot and a sippy cup full of water and telling God it’s time to set out somewhere new. And He gently stops me again because He knows I’m not ready for the journey quite yet. I think my lunch is huge and I’m ready to go. He is wise enough to know there is so much more I need to pack before we move on.
Two and a half years ago God blessed us with a house to call “home”. We moved from a small three bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house with a fenced in backyard. It was a “dream home” for us in so many ways. It was out of our league budget wise, but God worked in some awesome ways for us and gave us a home that is perfect for our family. And we loved it. We moved in and painted and praised Him again and again for his faithfulness.
And time wore on. We started to notice the lack of shade, since there were no trees… We thought it would be nice to have some strawberry and raspberrry plants.. We really needed some mulch under those rose bushes… One thing has always stopped us from moving forward. The house is a rental and why would we invest in a rental? So for two and a half years we have “half lived here” because someday we might be moving on.
God has been gently pulling and honestly sometimes flat out ripping at that part of my heart that is always moving on without Him. And I wrestle with him all the time. I was having an all out spiritual tantrum when my mom sent me Jeremiah 29:11-13 to read: “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” And my heart resisted. I think the actual words my heart were used were: “Yada, Yada, Yada. Heard that before.” Fortunately, somewhere in there a slightly more mature version of myself jumped in and decided to try a little harder to listen; so I read the whole chapter and came to Jeremiah 29:4-7: “ This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” I started to get the message. I’ve been living most of my life with a “renter’s spirit”, never fully setting down roots because there might be something better.
Two days later we were offered strawberry starts. Just a couple days later we fell upon some free raspberry starts. As John and I planted I was fully aware of the fact that God was showing me the physical representation the spiritual lesson he was teaching. It’s time for my heart to stop wandering and plant down roots. Physically we’ve laid down mulch and planted a shade tree, the lilac bush I’ve always dreamed of and an apple tree. I can’t be certain if we will be the ones to enjoy it’s fruit someday, but either way we’ve left some fruit and shade for someone.
Spiritually I’m letting God put down his roots and plant His call for today in my heart. It’s a painful process. My soil is rocky, hard and cracked. Sometimes a pick ax is the only way to get through it, but I’m realizing it’s the only way to go. If you never plant down roots you never get to see the fruit. And no one can survive on a carrot and water for very long anyways.
It’s one of those days… the laundry which was nearly caught up is overflowing out of the laundry room, the kid’s bed which had clean sheets yesterday are stripped once more, ” and there is an overall “odor” permeating the house.
I’ve spent my day cleaning up messes we ignored over the weekend, tossing in laundry and searching for that “smell” which I suspect is probably somewhere at the bottom of the laundry pile… Meanwhile the girls have been babysat by “The Monkey” which leaves me with a strong sense of “Mommy guilt” and surely makes for squabbling preschoolers. Somewhere in between my desperate housecleaning spree Sarah came to me in anguish. Her sister, the “Annanator”, had stolen one of her toys which is a continual ongoing saga these days. Sarah has been in the midst of a particularly “whiny” phase this past weekend and my patience with both of the girls has been running thin.
So, my drama queen came to me wanting justice because the “dispenser of all injustice” had taken her toy that she had left on the couch. How exactly does one explain to a 4 year old that a one year old does not understand that she was “coming back for that”? I impatiently explained, which led to a further eruption… Sarah left the room with much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”. And then… more screams from both girls. And a justice seeking Sarah is back screaming at my feet.
There are appropriate ways of responding to such things but this Mommy had no more appropriateness left in her at that moment. I angrily sent her to her room. It was the “wrong” thing to do but at that moment it was also the “safe” thing to do. Ten minutes later, I had gathered myself enough to calmly deal with Sarah. Only to find out that Anna had bit her finger… Hard… So hard that it actually did qualify for a Hello Kitty band aid. And the Mommy guilt bites down just a little harder.
And I wonder about myself. How can I not be more patient? How do I not have the right words to say? Why can I not keep the house clean, find that smell, be more organized, remember to make that dentist appointment, be a better example of a Godly Woman as a Pastor’s wife….
And after I find myself wholly wanting I move onto others… If the kid’s would pick up after themselves, if I had more help around the house, if there wasn’t so much expected of me… And I realized today that I do this every couple of months or so. This angst. Where everything and everyone comes up sorely lacking and I am on a mission to change it all. And then once again I find my balance again and realize I’m just not good at being “perfect” and that my life, my home, my family and my world never will be this side of heaven.
So, I doubt it will go away; this constant striving for perfection. Because, in all reality I was created for perfection and I’m just waiting for that day to be fulfilled. The hope of every believer is the promise of someday dwelling in the perfect abundance of heaven. Today, however, I am resting on the fulness of this promise: Psalm 16:5 Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
I’m not certain I will ever get my earthly “lot” fully under control, but I am thanking Him for his unending mercy in being my sustaining portion and cup until the day I receive the “heavenly lot” He has already secured for me.
Take hope Mommies, I hear it’s clean up there. 😉