The rose garden blooms pink and gangly outside the dining room window this summer morning. Sam screams at the kids’ table, two hours after I’ve served breakfast, naked from the waist down, refusing. Abraham traces the word “big,” practicing sight words for kindergarten. The details of a day feel more like an ever-heightening Everest: the cleaning of house and folding of laundry, tutoring 5 year old in alphabets and numbers 1-31,and forming the will of 2-year-old-breakfast-refuser, the making of lunch and planning of dinner, finding time to blog, making phone calls to pharmacies and doctors’ offices. 10 am feels tired. I sag at the sink, still full of dishes I could swear I’ve washed once already this morning.
Sam carefully climbs off his bench where he has been fitting for the last two hours. He carefully picks up his breakfast bowl and tilts it to show me he has finished his breakfast. I affirm him, barely the victor after this battle of wills, “Thank you, Sam.” Bare booty and legs jiggle in a happy dance over to the counter where he places his bowl, turns around with hands raised, and shouts, “I win!”
Could you help but laugh? Win what? He doesn’t care. He’s accomplished the task before him, and even if his pride and stubbornness contributed to him struggling with something as simple as sitting still and eating his breakfast, even if he is the one making it hard on himself this morning, he still wins when he reaches his goal. He still wins.
I wonder if that is what is going on with me. I pile enormous amounts of pressure on myself over simple things. God’s given me a task for this moment. Instead of just doing it, I make it so hard. I sit and fit for hours over something simple. I try to get up and run around. I make more lists of things I should be doing. In actuality, it is more simple than I ever really imagined.
Even after all of this time, I’m still trying to live outside the boundaries of my life. I’m trying to give outside my own ability, to find the sweet spot between stretching myself just a little further and crashing. I have an endless list of expectations of myself; I think most of us moms do. But I don’t think God does. I think God just wants to have us sit down and eat our breakfast. He wants me to sit down and do the one thing right in front of me, the ONE thing I am called to.
Jesus told Martha, as she ran around and resented her sister Mary,
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” Luke 10:41
Only one thing? I have been thinking about this all day and I am still confused. How, my Martha spirit frustrates, is it possible to ever do one thing in this mothering life of mine? How do I ever just get to focus on one face without tallying the grocery list? How do I ever get to cook dinner without my two year old pulling my skirt over his head?
Lord, with all do respect, I feel for Martha. And for me. And I think you’re being a little harsh, don’t you think?
But then, as I push through Target and pick out bacon at the grocery store, as I drive in the driveway and look at the front porch that is still a disaster, as I rush outside to kiss a pricked finger, I begin to wonder that maybe the one thing isn’t what I think. Maybe the one thing is simply this present moment. And whether I’m kneeling in prayer or scrubbing the kitchen floor, whether I’m wiping a nose or writing a blog, Jesus is in this moment. My one thing is right now; my one thing is always now.
Now is the only place Jesus resides, the only place I can touch eternity. Now deserves reverence and attention and a little bit of wonder.
Right now it’s cooling off and Jack just finished work for the day. Right now, he’s out there swinging my babies high in the swing tree: the tree we cuddle under during lunchtime and stare through to blue, wrapped up in sticky peanut butter kisses and hugs. Right now is my only thing: my Jesus, my salvation, all that really exists.
So, I choose reverence. I choose my one thing: now. Oh, soul, how many times must you learn this?