My baby is in First Steps (therapy for kids under 5) and was going to have an evaluation in our home this morning. In preparation, I cleaned the kitchen, picked up the first layer of toys, dressed the children (and myself), and put Librovox on so the boys could be listening to The Complete Treasury of Beatrix Potter. With all this done, I patted myself on the back. My house looks nice. My children look presentable. My desk is cleared. The laundry is put away. My room is clean. Good grief, my children are even listening to classic literature to entertain themselves. I felt like such a good mom. And then.... the unthinkable (inevitably) happened.
Since I had gotten all my odd jobs done, I got out my old piano keyboard for the kids to play with. We played songs, pounded on the keys (just a little), and laughed at the funny sounds the keyboard makes. Again, awesome mom moment. Then I moved the keyboard to put it away, leaving behind six stains of gooey black where my keyboard's skid pads have disintegrated (Yes, that did make me feel old.). In a tizzy, I tried carpet cleaner, making it worse. And in my haste to make my carpet perfect, I turned my back for only a moment, which is all it took for Ben to get his fingers caught in Caleb's school desk (with some help). Screaming filled my house. My once perfectly clean house now has big black stains on the carpet. My once happy and clean children are now weeping uncontrollably (one because he knew he was in big trouble, they other in pain).
So, of course, you know what happens now. The therapists choose this moment to show up, smiling and ready to evaluate Ben's development. And I feel undone.
You see, when my happiness and composure depend on the perfection of my surroundings, I'm feeble. When my joy can be dampened by monetary loss, I'm at the mercy of the catastrophes that seem to be more and more regular occurrences. When not everyone in the world is at peace with me, I can't let myself relax and move on. It's like carrying a wounded heart around all the time, waiting for things to fall apart at any moment.
This is not victory, nor was the happiness I experienced this morning (pre-goo) true joy. Selfish satisfaction, yes. Joy, no. Because joy has nothing to do with how much I have to do today or how many checkmarks I've made. Peace can be found in the hurry, hustle, and even heartbreaks of daily life. I'm learning (slowly, mind you) that true happiness is found by seeking out the grace of each moment. and giving. thanks.
In all things, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you. 1 Thes. 5:18
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. Psalm 95:2-3
Okay, God. I understand this in head. My heart is so slow to change. Thank you, Lord, for filling my home this morning with music and laughter and words of grace. Teach me to define "important" as You would. Thank you that Ben's hand was not seriously hurt. Thank you that kisses and blankies heal in a way that I can't understand. You are Sovereign. Sovereign. Reigning over all. Overseeing all of Creation. Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom.........
And it happens that quickly. Giving thanks turns my thoughts from controlling my own universe to the One who really does control the universe. The One who has much bigger plans for me than keeping my house clean. The One who looks at my sons at their worst and aches for them to know His Son. Somehow, in that miraculous moment of thanksgiving, comes perspective. faith. joy. And rather than wanting to scream from my housetop, I'm brought low. Remembering eternity. And my heart no longer wants to be self-satisfied. It longs to live by faith, seeing the grace being poured richly on each moment. Because time is running out, and I want to be present, to see the grace, to love fully, and to do the work that God has for me. Because he's given me so much.
so. very. much.
And I cannot let a few stains and tears take that away. I will not let those things rob me of the opportunity I have to love and to live fully in the here and now. And so I continue counting the gifts. The graces. And find myself remembering without self-loathing that I am not perfect, but that my Father gives perfect gifts.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.. James 1:17
Every good. and perfect. gift. Amen.