My friend Elizabeth makes me think.
I’m pretty sure all truly good friends make us think; the kind of thinking that results in spiritual encouragement. A couple of weeks ago, she wrote something simple to me in an e-mail that hit me right away as just the truth I needed to hear. She said that my kids, my family, they are the community I spend the most time with right now.
And there it was. Truth I needed to hear and reflect on.
My husband was away for five days playing drums at a worship event out of town and on the day I received that email from her, the kids and I were at the end of our second day of not leaving the house. Two days of being cooped up together with temperatures over 90 degrees so the kids couldn’t go out and play.
Preface to what I’m about to say: I love being a mom. My kids bring me joy and fulfillment beyond words. We are overall a happy and loving family. That said, at the end of the second day, I had a headache and my two-year old, who is at the brink of several big breakthroughs (potty training and expressing complex thoughts and such) was particularly cranky. You know how they’re always unusually cranky when they’re about to do something big but haven’t quite grasped it yet. I was down and out. I had all these plans when my husband left; all these things I was going to accomplish. When he got back our toddler would be potty trained, the kids and I would have done several adorable craft projects, gone to the jump house place, spent time with friends, gone swimming, the laundry room would be cleaned and organized, I would have a clear homeschool plan for the school year….. it went on.
I know. Why would a person set herself up for failure like this?
(Lesson 1: Plan more realistically during such times. )
Well, we did go swimming, but other than that, by Day 3, I was in “let’s just survive ‘til he gets back” mode. Mostly because of my task-oriented expectations. And heaped on top of it, I had failed—in my own mind, anyway. And I felt it.
That’s where I was when I got Elizabeth’s e-mail. I had given myself permission to have a pity party. I had allowed myself to become overwhelmed with the stress of doing the tasks solo instead of focusing on people. The people I cherish most.
And as they were in bed sleeping, peaceful and beautiful—the time when it’s always most painful that you weren’t the mom you wanted to be that day—I remembered. I’m not shut off from my community when I’m here with them. They are a community to me, these three and my husband. I become imbalanced spiritually and otherwise when I’m too isolated and don’t get out into my broader community, but thinking of them in that way, as my community, gave a new dignity and honor to what I had been doing that week and every week for years:
Serving what is arguably right now my smallest and most important community.
Even when the little one is cranky and hollers because her post-nap milk is too slow in coming;
even when they get frustrated and say unkind words to one another that grieve my heart;
even when it’s loud and wild because they’re cooped up and missing daddy,
and it starts to creep in, that thought pattern….Am I failing? Am I doing enough?
We’re our own little community. And serving them has deep value. So with that encouragement, I kissed their sleeping cheeks with a renewed sense of purpose. And the rest of the week went much better.
….so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. -Romans 12:5
I could embrace it without fearing that serving my family is keeping me from being deeply rooted in community.
I belong to them just as they belong to me. We, even (or especially) in our family, were knit together by God to serve and love one another. Two days spent with only them caring for and serving them until Daddy comes home are anything but failure.
Thanks, Friend, for the fellowship over the years and the simple truth that was just what I needed to hear.