Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen. Things get messy. Sometimes the storm seems perfect and the cards that are dealt aren’t always good. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise when it happens since Jesus gave us the head’s up in John 16:33 - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.”
Experiencing trouble is oftentimes out of our control, but what we do in response to it is absolutely in our control…
We can pout. We can whine. We can ask, “Why, God why?”
Or we can be encouraged with what Jesus went on to say in verse 33: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We can roll up our sleeves, put on our big-girl panties, and trust Him to get us through it.
Three weeks ago, a certain accident landed my older boys and I in the ER on a Saturday night. After 3 1/2 hours we returned home with some hard Tylenol and a splint for a broken leg. We had to wait until Monday until we could get it casted with a specialist.
It was going to be a long night.
Collapsing into bed at midnight and waking multiple times throughout the night to administer medicine and console pain left me in the “bringing-home-a-newborn” category of exhausted on Sunday morning.
And it wasn’t just any Sunday morning - it was Jeremiah and I’s 12th year of waking up together as husband and wife. But on this given Sunday morning - my husband wasn’t in bed next to me. My son was. Instead, Jeremiah was in Josiah’s bed as they had swapped the night before so I could keep a close eye on my broken boy during the night. (Apparently hard Tylenol can be fatal.)
I got out of bed and went into Josiah’s messy bedroom to ensure that my husband had woken up to his church alarm. While in there, I soon realized that our youngest - who shared the room - was in need of a diaper change. Stat.
With one eye halfway open and the other fully shut, I started the diaper changing process - something that I had been faithfully doing for over eight years. I considered myself a pro as I had seen it all and had changed it all…
However, on that particular morning, I didn’t take the time to use the changing pad that I typically used. I didn’t have the strength nor energy to go and find it - somewhere in the living room, packed away in all the luggage from a trip we had returned home from the night before.
I was wishing I would have gone and searched for it after it was too late. It was the terrible-horrible kind of diaper change - with all the mess coming out the legs and up the back.
As a result, I had poop…all over the carpet!
So before I had even brushed my teeth, kissed my husband, or poured myself a cup of coffee, I was walking down the hallway to retrieve the Resolve to clean up the mess.
As I returned to the bedroom, I couldn’t help but smile. Ironically, I was as “messy” as I could have been in that moment - with my crazy hair, morning breath, and sleep in my eyes. Still in my old t-shirt for pajamas with my robe around me, I was down on my hands and knees scrubbing poop out of my son’s bedroom carpet!
The night before I had processed that I didn’t get to go to church that morning as Josiah’s leg was too vulnerable to be moved much. I hadn’t seen some of my church family in over a week and was already missing my husband who would be gone for the majority of the day. And my house was in complete disarray with a living room that had vomitted Lincoln Logs and luggage!
And in that moment I decided that this was exactly what I had signed up for…
Yes, I signed up for babies. And babies come with their poop and their terrible-horrible kind of diaper changes. I signed up for children that come with their messy bedrooms. I signed up for Momma-Nurse Duty and the sleep deprivation that accompanies long, painful nights.
Yes, I signed up for being the wife of a Pastor when he told me he took the job all those years ago. I signed up for sharing him with hundreds and hundreds of people - on weekends, Christmases, Easters - and yes, even 12-year Anniversaries.
I signed up for it all - and since I did, I resolved that I was going to keep my joy through it all.
Lost sleep is a hazard of having children. Lost joy does not have to be a hazard of Motherhood! We can maintain our joy - through the mess! It’s simply a choice we must intentionally make.
James 1:2-4 charges us to:
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, a whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
When thieves break in and steal and they’re leaving the house with the valuables in tow, no person in their right mind would yell out after them, “HEY! You forgot to look in our hidden firesafe that holds all the Emergency Cash and the titles to everything we own! Hold on and I’ll go get you the passcode and the key!”
That person would be a fool!
Our enemy, Satan, is a thief. And when he comes, he comes “only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10 ESV)
But how many times when the thief comes - only to steal and kill and destroy - do we willingly give up our most valued possessions - like our hope, our joy, or our peace?
So while I was down on my hands and knees (cleaning up poop - mind you!) I resolved that nothing could steal the joy of our day. I was going to hold onto what only I could give away…
I knew in my heart, that I would get through that moment (and the moments to follow) and that I would be stronger as a result.
I was going to clean up the mess, ensure my husband had pants to preach in that morning, carry my splinted-boy downstairs, and put the living room back in order.
Yes, I was going to cling to my joy. The thief just simply couldn’t have what was mine to keep.
And so dear friends, when life happens and you find yourself cleaning up the mess - remember that even though the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, Jesus goes on to say in verse 10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
And I can’t speak for you, but I’m signing up for that!