Dear mom…. Love, your Christian sister

Dear Mom,

I know. You’re tired.  You’re scared.  You wake in the morning, thinking of your family’s day. Is another day here already?  What will everyone eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Will the kids ever stop saying, “Mom, I’m hungry.”  Can you cook on a budget, using resources sparingly? You worry about getting groceries today, tomorrow and next week… and you’re tired.  You scan the news and then stop because you feel the worry rising in your heart.  What if your kids lose their mom? Their dad? Their grandma or grandpa?  Who will raise them?  Will they be okay?  Are you too old to just want your own mom right now?  You think of new ways to sanitize, save money and invent activities that end up only keeping the kids busy for a few minutes rather than the promised few hours.  You hope the rest of your family is taking things more seriously than they seem to be right now… and you’re tired.  How long can you hide your worry from the kids?  How can you comfort your kids as they experience the loss of personal connection with friends, family, extra-curricular activities and school?

Will you ever be alone again? You’re tired.

You browse Facebook and Instagram and are reminded of other parents doing the next creative, made from scratch, home project and wonder if you are frying your kids brains with video games and Netflix… and you’re tired.  You sift through a hundred emails from your kid’s school with new assignments and new expectations, almost collapsing under the weight of undone duties and mountains of laundry.  You wonder if you will have enough laundry detergent anyway… and you’re tired.  Maybe you have lost income. Maybe you are working from home and wondering how to add one more thing.  Will you get fired?  Will you get fired later because you are in a season in which you can no longer give your whole self, uninterrupted to your job?  Are you now perceived as less professional when your zoom call looks like it’s streaming from a playground and none of your co-workers get interrupted by their kids?  Maybe you are still leaving home to work. How long can you keep up this pace, these extra hours and the worry of what new germ you might bring home every evening?

How much calculating can your mind do as you plan, protect and manage life for each member of your family?

Life has always felt like you are not enough and too much at the same time.  Your passions, worry, self-doubt, exhaustion and emotional range are too much for yourself and others.  Your efforts, labor and physical abilities are not enough… and YOU ARE TIRED.

I get it.  So here is what I hope will be a little permission and little encouragement. 

First, the encouragement.  You are not alone, but not because me or anyone else gets it.  We don’t really need others being in our same boat.  Our need is for someone to be with us, seeing us, hearing us, and intimately knowing us in deep ways.  Our need goes deeper than the normalization of our experiences. We need someone to carry the burden and the load.  

No one sees you, knows you and is with you like your heavenly Creator is right now.  He made you.  He crafted you and your heart and calls out to you.  He connects in deeply precious ways with the hearts of his daughters. Only he can truly be with you, with his comfort, his peace and his promises. You family and your life were never really yours to begin with. He is the King of his Kingdom. He is trustworthy to rule his Kingdom.

The psalmist says, “For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.  For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.”  (Psalm 21:6-7) Even the king of Israel knew who the real King was and how God offered his own presence.

So here is our challenge, will we sit with Him and let Him be with us and make us “glad with the joy of his presence?”  You see, God’s promise is not to expand our efforts so that every expectation is met or to fix our world today and rid us of all suffering.  His promise is nothing short of Himself, present and real in our moment.  No, it will not always be this way. However, until His coming perfect Kingdom, He is WITH us.  In the quiet moments of our hearts, where no one else dwells but His Spirit, we are drawn to His side and near to His own heart.  It is only here that He can “quiet you by his love.” (Zephaniah 4:17)

Jesus encouraged us to abide in himself.  “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11) How may his joy be full in me?  I must begin here, seeking first his Kingdom and his righteousness, abiding in his love and keeping his commands.  (Matthew 6:25-34).

Does this feel like one more thing to add to your day?  Stop.  You are missing the point.  This is not a thing to do.  It is a place to rest.  It is that place when you are praying because you can’t sleep.  He is there.  It is that place when you play worship music while cooking because something deep in your soul needs the life-giving notes of praise sung back to Jesus.  It is the stolen moments of soaking in His Word because your very life depends on drinking from the fountain of His truth and goodness.

But here is the warning:  If your faith has been able to survive on a daily podcast and a few songs on Christian radio, your trust in God needs to anchor deeper now.  This kind of trust is only anchored by His grace pouring out his presence to you.  Ask for it.  Ask for Him.  Run to Him alone.  Tell Him that above all else, you just need Him.  He will answer.  He will give you peace. (Philippians 4:4-9)

Second, the permission.  In case we forget, we live for an audience of One.  That’s right.  Just One.  All the habits we have carried for years, bending to the performing expectations of ourselves and others have crowded our ears from hearing the simple commands of our Father, who bids us follow him today and rest on grace for this one day.  So right now, tell God that you will rest in His grace for this one day.  Tell Him the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next.  Remind yourself that God is not surprised by this moment in our lives.  He is not freaking out right now.

God is not sitting on his throne (that’s right it’s His, not ours) stressed about whether your kids get their worksheets done or whether you make boxed macaroni and cheese because you need a 15 minute solution to dinner.  Mom, incomplete homework and boxed macaroni and cheese are not sinful!  His riches go deeper.   We are called to live in the grace of our one day with only one question in mind: How can I follow Him deeply in this one moment out the strength of His spirit and not myself? 

We live for an audience of One and He is ever present and ever strong. 

But here again is the warning: No one will command you to live for an audience of One.  As a matter of fact, some will do just the opposite. Your own flesh will do strive for the opposite. His command to live in his grace and his will alone in your day will still call you to obedience, service, love, goodness, and truth.  But His commands are not suffocating (I John 5:1-5) because they always reside in the presence of His love, the strength of His nature and the grace of his forgiveness. How gracious of our Lord to simplify it so well, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:34-40) Simple, not simplistic.

I confess, it took me about two weeks to remember this and to begin to live again for just the moment He gives me.  In short, it took me two weeks to repent of my prideful anxieties of performance and people pleasing.  Do you know what happened?  I started to enjoy my family more.  I started to see His gracious generosity around me.  I started to become more thankful, trusting and praising of Him.  I began to deeply feel the grief of a world in pain but at the same time rejoice in gratitude at His common grace abounding in one moment.  My own challenges have been brought into deeper perspective. 

I began to experience the anchoring center-point of my faith: the life, death, burial, resurrection and coming return of Jesus of Nazareth.  It has never been about more that his salvation and glory.

I am not doing more.  In some ways I am doing less.  I have said no to some things I never thought I would and have said yes to some things that matter more; my family, the young women I mentor, my neighbors and community who just need the same joy of Christ that I have been given. My efforts still feel meager, yet they are offered to our Lord who will do with them as he wills.

So tomorrow I will struggle again.  My prideful demands will surface.  I will remember the real and present fears of our world and my own fears will surface.  I will again have to pray, seek my Father’s face, repent, rejoice and be renewed. I will learn to trust again tomorrow. 

This is our journey.  This is how he untethers us from our world and anchors us to Himself.

This is my prayer for you.  So, mom, abide in Him and let Him take care of the rest.

 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)