You can also find this post at Hearts Being Healed
Every swing of the hammer, every day spent with walls shaking as the ground was compacted just yards behind our house, every beam that reached higher and higher until the new roof line was stories above our fence line, every six a.m. reverse alarm right.outside.my.window, each one was a reminder of what we lost, of what we did not “get back”, and especially, of the hemming in of God. I was tired of “looking on the bright side.” The worst was the reality that, this house could be a dream home. We had many people tell us how “lucky” we were. Instead, it was a home built by grief, and there was no luck involved, and the blessedness of the moments were in learning to live contented even when the hits keep coming.
I am a slow learner, and even when I do learn something, I excel at forgetting it. Just when I thought I had wrestled the last time with my discontent and grief over loss, something new popped up and sent me walking that same path again. Soon, it became a well-worn trail, easy to find my way on, with favorite places to sit and stay awhile.
Many would say we had other options instead of this particular place, and perhaps there was something we missed, but for our family, with the factors we had to consider and time lines we faced and just the level of exhaustion from allthethings, this was the settling place we chose. I now have a new idea of what “settling” means, and I also understand a bit more about the “hemming in of God”. It is good, but I realize I don’t always want the good. I just want it my way.
So, just a few months ago, I was up late reading and in distracted moments, praying. My prayers were feeble prayers. Less than a handful of words strung together by a heart battered and worn from allthethings.
As often happens when the middle of the night begins creeping into the early morning hours, allthethings begin to take on the shape of mountainous monsters. In these moments it seems as if the solutions are impossible to find and that any potential way out is out of reach. Like shadows that stretch and take the shapes of unknown things, all the what-ifs begin to grow large and strain my heart. The weight is heavy, and I forget the Glory and Grace promised.
So that night, I began to think about all the mamas through the ages. Mothers have existed since the beginning of time, and this (heartbreaking community loss, national social tension, deep injustice, world pandemic) is not the first time such things have inundated a mother’s life. I wondered if, during the Plague or the Depression or World War II for instance, a mother would have whispered the same thin prayers? For her, on the side of history where she is unaware of the outcomes, or even of what the middle would look like, what else did she pray? What else would she do but make the meals, kiss the foreheads, work for her household, and say the prayers, even the thin ones?
Of course, there are grand gestures, sweeping motions, and hills anyone, including (especially?!) Mothers can stand upon. But, I am convinced that it is these daily, hourly and sometimes, minute by minute small actions made by mothers all over the world that are really the moments that change the world.
This doesn’t mean those grand moments don’t matter. Of course they do. I just think that many of the grandest moments in history were not orchestrated to be grand, they just were.
And here is where my heart was squeezed, am I loving at home in such a way to change the world?
I can show up to work or I can take a stand for justice, and I can do things that will get approval from all the people I think getting approval from is good, but if I come home and tear my own house apart, much of the good I’ve done matters little compared to the destruction I’ve caused.
This year, as you may have guessed, my destruction took the form of harboring bitterness at all the ways the devastation of our town and our home caused heartbreak and setback. Not only for our family, but also for so many people we know. Within the walls of my home, and often in the safety of a friendly conversation, I’ve been very free with my discontented spewing and my entitled lamenting as I faced the realities as they look to me today.
The hard part about these things is that there is some justification in my complaint; the heartache, the loss, the injustice and the destruction are real and terrible.
But, my choice is found in what I do with these facts. I was choosing to camp here, to wear this path backwards and forwards, but only going so far. I was refusing to see the Sovereignty of God as able to move me from this place (both physically and spiritually). And my family knew every ugly moment of it.
Christian Truth doesn’t make us immune to grief and suffering, it doesn’t mean that we can (or should!) smile and nod at allthethings- but it does give us a different way of viewing them-a Redemptive way.
And it is this way that gives us the strength to work from within our own walls and then let the changes ripple effect outward.
Often, when reading about those historical times, I would have a picture in my mind of what life during that time would look like. I’m learning it doesn’t look like the dramatized scene I had imagined it would. It seems that being a mama in unprecedented times looks like normal daily life full of math homework and dishes and laundry and work and play plus allthethings .
To live bravely during this time, a mama must not look at the shadows and forget about Truth, she must choose faith above fear, love above apathy, and the daily and hourly acts of remembrance and repentance. She must sit at the kitchen table (or go on a walk or talk on the phone) with a friend, other mamas young and old, and drink tea and share coffee and remember and learn. It is this recipe of living that can lead a mother to rejoice, not in the circumstances themselves, but through them at least.
Mother Teresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
I think it is worth pointing out that loving our family (or anyone) doesn’t just change them, it changes us.
A life lived in love is difficult, and not one of us will be good at it, much less perfect. And not even a fraction of true love is possible apart from the One Who is Love. But, by His perfect nature, His Love will cast out fear and in this way, it is the antidote to allthethings and the strength to stand strong for all the True things.
This very Grace is how, as mamas with feeble prayers, making daily meals, doing the daily work, and delivering forehead kisses, we can change the world, one child at a time, one home at a time.
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.