Today, I loaded my kids in the car and we went for a walk at a nearby nature park.
That doesn’t sound like a particularly momentous thing for a mom with two littles to do, but for this particular mom on this particular day, it required A LOT OF sucking it up and putting on of the proverbial big girl britches.
It has been a rough few weeks over here for various reasons, lots of growing pains for all of us combined with a cold virus that has packed a powerful punch of fatigue. I didn’t feel like doing anything but throwing a movie on for the kids and laying on the couch wallowing, but we had already done that EVERY OTHER DAY THIS WEEK, so it felt like a change of pace was the grown-up thing to do. And we all know that being a grown-up is severely overrated at times.
When we got there, the kids took off running. They got sick before I did and so of course are feeling better before I am with all of the energy and enthusiasm that I lack, bless all of our hearts.
First, they started noticing that someone had put brightly-painted rocks along the path and the kids were SO EXCITED ABOUT finding all of them.
Then we stumbled on a path we hadn’t taken before and Cam declared that we would be embarking on “The Mystewy of the Mystewious Path!” (be sure to read that in your most spooky voice to get the full effect)
I mean, there I was surrounded by the bright beauty of a brand new spring with happy, excited kids who were being delightful and hilarious and my heart just would. Not. Lift. I didn’t feel good in either body or spirit and I couldn’t get myself to the place I felt like I should be, to the place that I felt like would have been honoring to God in light of the blessings of that moment.
I decided that as long as I was there with nothing else to do, I might as well pray. I couldn’t muster much, so I went simple and lifted a few short prayers for those around me who are DEFINITELY in the middle of some very heavy seasons that make mine look like a day at the beach: My friend with the daughter who’s having seizures, the friend with breast cancer, another friend who just lost a cousin to an overdose, my friends in the throes of divorce, someone near to me with an upcoming surgery.
It felt like a dismal, paltry offering and I was almost ready to throw in the towel when of a sudden, God spoke into my mess with words of glittering, glowing grace:
“You’re trying,” He told me. “And it matters.”
That was a counterintuitive message for me in that moment. When the going gets tough, when the path is dark and difficult and our footsteps stumble, we are quick to chide ourselves, to deepen our despair with a recounting of our failures. Not to mention that the enemy of our souls loves to capitalize on the moments when we are down, whispering that we aren’t enough, that our prayers aren’t enough, so why even try?
But that isn’t God’s way. He just happens to be the best parent that this world and the next have ever seen and He sees our circumstances and struggles for what they are and loves us right through them.
Kind of like Mister Cameron learning to ride a bike without training wheels. We see it, we know how hard it is, and when his attempts fail and the tears start, his Daddy whispers to him, “It’s hard, buddy. But you’re trying and that’s what matters.”
Miss Kendall is probably 3/4 of the way potty trained now, but the first few days were rough. She would have accidents and break down in tears, but I would help her change, clean up the mess and say, “Accidents happen, honey. Learning to use the potty is hard, but you’re trying and that’s what matters.”
There are also moments when we say to our kids, “I know you can do better than this,” moments where we don’t back down from expecting their best because it’s our job to push them to step up and grow. But, if we are on our parenting game, those are NOT the moments when they are tired, not feeling good, having a rough day, or facing a task that is really difficult for them.
And my sisters, God is ALWAYS on His parenting game. He can read our hearts even better than we can because He knit them together in our mother’s wombs and He has numbered our steps. He has also walked on this earth and lived among us humans in the person of Jesus. He gets it, He knows, and His vision isn’t clouded, even when ours is.
In those tough moments, when the best we can muster is going through the motions and saying the words even if our hearts don’t seem to follow, He will meet us where we are. He sees us trying and CHOOSING HIM, even if we aren’t that great at it in the moment, and it MATTERS.
So be brave, my sisters, and try. Whatever you’re facing, whatever your battle or dark season looks like, choose to do the right thing, put one foot in front of the other, and approach Him with whatever strength you’ve got.
Because He looks on us with eyes of a Father, can reach down and meet us in our struggles and fog, and can Himself fill in that gap between earth and heaven.
Your trying matters, Mama. So keep it up.