I've been away for too long yet again. I woke up this morning knowing that I couldn't put it off anymore, that there is too much bottled up inside me and I have to write. But the morning happened, as it often does, with snooze buttons, devotions, and kids and breakfasts and hurry-up-so-were-not-late-agains! And then it's too late, once the day begins. And nap-time just began and pick up is in 48 minutes, so I have this window, this short window to pour my soul out onto this screen.
But how do I begin after a month? A rocky month, too. One full to anxiety over the big 3rd birthday. And tantrums of epic proportions. The kind that leave me crying on the bathroom floor and wanting to run away and never ever come back. Ever. I want to write that parenting is HARD. But really, sometimes, just living is HARD.
It's been a tough month. And I've been utterly exhausted and it all seems like so much more work right now when everything is hard. And sometimes I wonder just what is the point in all this striving, when it feels like no matter how much I try, how hard I work, I'm still sinking. Always sinking.
I read in a book that my children are refining me. That I am changing and stretching and growing and all this angst will make me a better person on the other side. Right now, in the thick of it, it feels more like getting hit over the head with a hammer over and over until I'm so broken I will shatter. But even as I write this, I think about how beautiful my brokenness can be. And, as Angie Smith wrote in her book, Mended, our cracks and gaps allow more of God's grace and light to leak out of us. And who doesn't want to ooze God's love?
I want to ooze the love of Jesus out of every crack in my being. I want to pray for more cracks just to ooze more love, but I am also so afraid. The breaking hurts. And I'm so far from perfect, so far from good so much of the time. I ooze fear and anger and selfishness more than I'd care to admit.
I fall so short.
It can all sound so hopeless, except it's not.
Wednesday night, the kids and I went to Mass late for the Ash Wednesday service. This is one of my favorite Masses of the year. I think of the ashes in my life. The wreckage still smouldering in my wake. And how God uses these ashes, these burned and broken parts of my life. And He makes them beautiful. We were so late to Mass that we missed getting the ashes. Which seems about right for us. But our priest was gracious and marked our foreheads with a black cross after the service was long over. It reminded me that it's never to late to accept grace offered. He offers grace enough to cover my faults with no expiration.
But even with grace, this whole living thing is HARD. Most things worth having are. This is where the JOY seeking comes in handy. Because even on the hardest days, weeks, months, when the ship seems like it is sinking fast, there is always, always something good. Always. Deciding to choose JOY, practicing choosing JOY and seeking the good every day, this is how I fight back. This is how I survive.
I know the days are long. I get that life is HARD. But I also know that it is worth it.