Now that I have children, I routinely dress myself in a dingy bathrobe. I put it on when I brought my first child home from the hospital and haven’t removed it since or so it might seem to my family. A frazzled, unhinged gaze has become commonplace in my red-rimmed eyeballs. My hand strength has increased tenfold from the tight grip I maintain around my coffee mug each early morning. Makeup, or any beauty routine for that matter, is a futile and overrated concept. I am ecstatic when I manage to shave both my legs within the same week (who am I kidding…..within the same month).
We don’t need children to be completely overwhelmed by this life. Our work can be just as demanding. Marriage isn’t a breeze either. Homes don’t clean, fix or mow themselves. Sometimes the mess isn’t made just by toys, cheerios, deadlines, date nights or chores. Often the messiness comes from a broken relationship, addiction, unmet desire, lingering misunderstanding, crippling fear, sense of failure. For me, it is more than anything else a lurking depression.
Recently, after the birth of my second muppet and with the emotional and physical noise amplified to a deafening level, I asked God to give me rest. I pleaded in utter anguish and, when rest did not come, I cursed him. One day, he shared with me very simply his heart: “I will not give you this rest you ask for, as I did not task you with the things that make you weary”. Oh.
As I began to examine this painful truth, I wondered if only I could rise above the clutter – the noise, stuff, endless chores – I might make some real headway. As I tried to define what exactly was this clutter so that I could begin to remove it, I realized that some of it was my family and more of it was my desire to be its answer. Certain truths began to grow in my heart:
This external mess, this constant state of unfinished business, the clutter and noise and mountain of toys filling my living room does not define me. The only clutter that matters is that in my heart, whether it is held hostage to lies or surrendered to truth. The external stuff has no bearing.
When I create expectations for myself to be the best solution, the sole gatekeeper, the highest authority, I need to understand that I have assigned these roles to myself. These are not hardships that God has chosen for me with a specific purpose in mind. I must remember that this burden is not the weight of the cross on my shoulders. This is an idol of self-glory I must carry alone.
Finally, I need to trust that my God has overcome all of it. His whisper drowns out the noise. His peace pierces the panic. His grace overwhelms my pride. His presence establishes for all time a solid foundation to stand firm in the face of despair, depression, disease and grief.