Recently I was reminded, again, about one of the joys that comes with being a mother. As you know if you follow Sarah’s work, she is the mother of nine children. I am also a mother of what some people think is a large family – I have seven children. My four oldest are adults; three are married and raising families of their own now, blessing me with seven grandchildren so far and another on the way and the fourth is in college after serving as a missionary in Spain for two years. My last three children–all girls–are in high school. So I have some experience as a mother. I’m so proud of all my children! When they were young I worried constantly that I was going to make so many mistakes they were going to be in therapy the rest of their lives trying to get over having me for a mother. They have taught me so much. A day six years ago in October demonstrates just how the learning continues.
So, tonight (October 2010) one of my twins had her first band concert. She has taken up the alto sax (or is it the tenor?), which is practically bigger than she is. But she has a natural talent and she’s loving it, and we’re loving it that she’s loving it.
Then the rest of the evening was spent finishing up Halloween costumes for the girls. A vampire and two witches this year. The costumes are a blend of old and new, a lot of their own creativity, and a splash of mine. Usually one of my favorite fun holidays of the year — love the drama!
This wasn’t really going to be about Halloween, though. It’s what I just learned — or more correctly, RE-learned tonight — as I put the finishing touches on my three youngest girls’ costumes for Halloween.
See, the fact of the matter is I am a middle-aged morbidly obese woman with diabetes and an auto-immune arthritis disease (Psoriatic Arthritis) who also works full time. Consequently, I am often tired at night and at times dread starting major family projects after a full day at work. It just seems so hard!
But I know my REAL job in life is MOTHER with all that entails, so I stuff my exhaustion down, down, down into my imaginary inner cellar where I store things in the darkness I don’t have time to deal with and shut and padlock the thick wooden planked door — picture also, will you, the iron bar I have going across this mighty oak door, and the foot-long padlock I thread through the iron ring. So now my exhaustion is contained, and out of sight and out of my conscious thought. One more deep breath, and I dive in, remembering Dory, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
Beginning is still hard, and I too often fail to begin. My oldest daughter Jen’s costume still sitting in pieces in a bag in my sewing room is a case in point. I started that one when she was in high school. She has her Master’s Degree now and is married.(Sorry, Jen!)
Once I get going I’m okay. As the hours roll by I have to fight with myself to keep going til I finish, but the fight tonight is a mere skirmish compared to what it was when I was young. I have learned discipline over the years, although I am not yet perfect at it. I’ve learned how to work. (You have no idea what an amazing accomplishment that is!) I know my strength, and how to take “small bites” until the whole thing is done. I guess that’s an AA type thing — well, in my case it would be OA. It’s a ‘one day at a time’ thing, applied to a project. I’ve figured out in my middle age how to break down a whole project into a series of smaller tasks, and look at just the one task at hand and not try to take on the whole weight of the project all at once. I realize this is something most people learn before their 20, but I didn’t learn it until I was over 40. Some of us are just late bloomers, I guess! Still and all, I need to apply this to a few other projects I’ve been putting off. Hmmm.
Anyway, it all got done tonight, and when I sat back and took it in, enjoying the finished product and imagining the fun the girls are going to have, that padlock on my imaginary inner cellar door spontaneously unlocked, the door swung wide open and intense peace and happiness poured into my heart, filling it so full that I wondered why I thought it was going to be hard at first! And then I realized the truth my fears and selfishness had shut away in that dark cellar — I remembered what I learn again and again each time I serve my family:
Joy is the Gift God pours out like a mighty river into our hearts whenever we willingly serve each other.
This is my life-long labor — to corral and disarm those fears and and that selfishness BEFORE they get a chance to kidnap and imprison in the cellar of my subconscious the true principles I’m trying to let Jesus carve into my heart. That’s why obedience to correct principles even when we don’t want to and we’re afraid (especially when we are afraid!) is so important. It is that obedience, in my case tonight it was to the principle of service to my family even though I was tired, that unlocks the eternal truths we have always known within our hearts and allows us to remember them again, as if for the first time.
Nothing like repetition to help the memory: Joy is the Gift God pours out like a mighty river into our hearts whenever we willingly serve each other.
I have to remember that tomorrow.