Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Anti-Lord's Prayer, from Mother's Day

Preface: I wrote this "post" in a journal shortly after Mother's Day, and then I put it away to marinate until a time when it didn't feel quite as raw. I remembered it yesterday evening after a particularly rough few days with one of my kids, and I'm putting it up here today as I slowly enjoy a latte (still hot!) on a blissfully quiet morning while the kids are away for a few hours. This is a Mother's Day post, and it's a post for every day, since moms don't really get vacation or sick days (except, apparently, me on Saturday mornings).


Now that the glow of Mother's Day is over and the Facebook posts of flowers and brunches have faded into the black hole of FB memories, be honest: was your Mother's Day as good as the card commercials? As good as you made it out to be, because that's what's expected?

It was? Oh. Well, at least I'm not the only one because one honest friend admitted to muttering "Happy effing Mother's Day" to herself while she managed two cranky kids at home and her husband worked all day.

Here was my Mother's Day: two adults sick all weekend and two high energy, healthy kids who still needed clothes, food, and poopy diaper changes. I was the least sick by a long shot (I would call my husband "walking dead," but he wasn't actually walking anywhere), so the burden of care fell on me. On Saturday, the two kids couldn't go more than three minutes without an altercation, and I got so tired of it, I strapped them both in car seats and drove around town for two hours until lunch and naps. (Magic! I recommend it! A quarter tank of gas is still cheaper than a babysitter, a hospital bill, or the psych ward.)

The kids were delightful on Sunday, but they still needed 3+ meals, clothes (who am I kidding - they wore pajamas all day), entertainment, and diapers. And I was weary, both physically and emotionally.

I laid down on my bed at naptime and thanked God for the manna. This has been my mantra lately: "eat the manna." God will give you grace for the moment, no more, no less. I still need to grow so much in my joy, in my serving, in my dying to self; but I see it as a gift that I recognize the manna for what it is, which is God sustaining me from moment to moment.

This is, after all, what our Lord teaches us to ask him for: our daily bread. No more, no less.

But let's be honest again: the manna life is hard. It's scary and it feels so sparse and it takes so much faith and I found myself saying, "Oh Lord, I need to know you more in order to trust you in this. I know that as a man you were tempted in every way without sin, but I'm a woman, a wife and a mom, and these are my challenges. Do you really know what it's like? I know you are my great high priest who sympathizes with my weaknesses, but do you really know?"

And I was taken to the great interpreter of human emotion and experience, the psalter, where I'm reminded by these Holy Spirit-inspired writings that God does know.

It's still hard to connect Scripture to life, though, isn't it? Oh, I can grab onto a verse or a chapter here and there, but so much of it eludes me, and I feel like I'm missing out on really knowing the God who knows.

One of the most meaningful pieces of modern writing that I've read is David Powlison's "Anti-Psalm 23." It took having him show me what life without Psalm 23 looks like in order to understand what it really means that "the Lord is my Shepherd."

So I decided to give that technique a try with a well-known passage relevant to my manna-eating, my daily bread. And here it is: "My Anti-Lord's Prayer, On Mother's Day." (You may want to note that each paragraph maps onto a request/line from the Lord's Prayer; it's hard to think of a way to show that on a blog without getting really complicated and fancy, so I did it with a simple table but in case that's hard to read, I'm also including the text at the bottom of the post.) 

The Lord's Prayer shows me the surpassing greatness of being in and living for God's kingdom. Greater purpose, greater vision, greater perspective. But it kind of took taking it all away (theoretically) for me to realize that.

Oh Lord, let this next day of manna-living not be about me, the eater, but about you, the Giver.


And the text, in case you can't read the chart:

I am a mother on Mother’s Day; the world must revolve around me, at least for today 

My home is my little kingdom and I want it just the way I like it. 

Please don’t make extra work for me or cross me right now, or I will make you pay. My home is supposed to be my little slice of heaven on earth, right? 

Day after day I am responsible for feeding hungry – and complaining – mouths. It’s trying and thankless. I would love to just have a day off. I feel like I’m never doing enough and I get so discouraged because it’s more of the same tomorrow. 

I work so hard for no pay and no time off; is it so bad to just want a break every now and then? Time to go shop or go out for a warm cup of coffee? Peeing with the bathroom door shut? Is that too much to ask? (I spend so much time feeling like the universe owes me for all this work.) 

You know what? Let’s take that a step further: the universe (or somebody) DOES owe me. I deserve a break. I deserve to indulge myself, maybe with some extra spending, a pedicure, lazy time online or a few extra bites of chocolate. It’s not like I haven’t earned it, and these kids are giving me no breaks today. 

I may not be able to control the rest of the world, but inside of these walls? I should at least be queen here, where people try to make me happy and tell me what a good job I’m doing. I’m so often stuck between “cherish every moment” and “is it bedtime yet?” I’ll probably go to bed again tonight exhausted, frustrated at myself and a little bit resentful at everyone else in my house. 

I guess that’s just the way it is until the kids leave for college.

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