THRIVING in motherhood.
Moms, did this title grab you?! Surely by now, they have come up with just two or three steps that I can adopt, which will help me pull it all together, so that I can proudly say “I got this.” And THEN, I’ll sit down, put my feet up and read my book with my coffee in peace, while things around here are off and running effectively. Perpetually.
My heart claws for something, ANYTHING to make this motherhood journey more graceful, clear, predictable, and if possible, that I remain largely undisrupted. Regrettably, there is always more. More laundry, more groceries, more dishes, more clutter. More spit-spray on that bathroom mirror. All this endless hassle-work when our souls are screaming for rest, solace, order. (When you think about it, everything under the sun constantly moves toward disorder, and we can only do so much to subdue the process.) Not only does it feel as though I am simply biding my time, but I am starting to develop this rather awful martyr mentality.
I want to enjoy THIS, to thrive IN it, to draw strength FROM it, rather than just bear it. I want to do this well.
Sorry, I don’t have that many answers, but I have found one thing.
This is as life-altering as discovering clean eating in that epic Urban Gets Diesel post back in July ’09.
About a year ago I read a beautiful book: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where you Are by Ann Voskamp. I am now doing the corresponding devotional that accompanies it.
Life’s pain, disappointments, inconveniences come at us like a fire hose. Voskamp artfully conveys there is really only one response that makes any difference: Gratitude. Meticulously and purposefully taking stock of everything that blesses you, in the MIDST of the chaos. The dare: to pen 1,000 gifts, WAKE UP to God’s everyday blessings, and “embark on a transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling gifts.”
So I took her up on her dare. Listing gifts…not gifts I want, but gifts I already have. A few excerpts from my personal journal:
- Squeals of joy over a bubble bath.
- Pounding feet on the stairs when I call “breakfast time!!”
- The smell of that first cup of coffee greeting me in the dark hours of the morning.
- Peaceful warblings of our parakeets.
- How much they love those parakeets.
- Baby kisses.
- Her one golden curl that always flies away in the same spot.
- Broad shoulders in his Army uniform.
- Reddish glow on the backyard as the sun rises over the mountains.
- Snow ice cream.
- Happy songs coming through the baby monitor.
- Little fingers playing the piano.
- Freshly laundered pullover, still fragrant and warm from the dryer.
- Five-year-old boy hands.
- Steam rising from 5 piping hot dinner plates.
- His returning motorcycle’s thunderous growl
- Really crunchy red apples.
- French linen chairs.
Can I tell you what has happened to my outlook ever since I began this discipline? A complete paradigm shift. Chaos waned. The mundane and tedious is seasoned with surprises and blessings that make every day fresh, and far more fulfilling. As the list grows, these “little” things begin to take on big significance. This is living. This is enjoying. This is grace.
It’s a constant stream of gifts from the Lord just for me. I have become obsessed with looking for them. It’s seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). And, it’s the only way I have been able to successfully apply 1 Thessalonians 5:18– give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Laundry will never be done, the dishes will always pour in. Legos, broken crayons, birdseed and matchbox cars scatter everywhere, and fingerprints smear all the way up and down the walls of the stairwell. But, LIFE is happening all around me. And it is beautiful.
This discipline of gratitude is crucial to counter life’s brokenness, disappointments, frustrations, disorder. We are surrounded by innumerable graces and glories. Actively noticing is how we enjoy it, or else we are at risk of becoming very bitter, worn out, and jaded.
Just like we are striving to eat clean, we must think clean. Grab a notepad, or get the app! Tune in to the amazing beauty and grace around you, and start really living. Every season can be the prime of your life!
Marvel in your journey,
Leigh (with plenty of discussion with my dear friend Wendy)