This week, Peter took the older kids on a 2-night camping trip, and consequently my day-to-day has looked completely different. In a word, it's been easy only having myself and a content little toddler to care about. We ate eggs for dinner. Our schedule was free. Running errands was a breeze. There was no sibling drama to mediate. There was no husband needing encouragement. I just kissed Evey's cheeks a whole bunch and we read books and went out a little and had a blast.
Don't get me wrong; I've only had one child before (obviously) and I felt like I was drowning. I was even stressed out before I had a child. I'm not some super-human unfazed by anything. But all of us get stronger as we learn to endure more challenges (in my situation, that means more kids), and since this is the third baby I've raised in the past four years, I'm a different person now too. What was once super-stresssful is now a piece of cake.
I walked into the kid's bathroom and noticed something quite uncanny. I had cleaned it the night before, and as I looked at the counters, they were still clean. Dirt-fairies had not wreaked havoc. In fact, all of my house stayed relatively clean. Very few new messes were happening. I'm not a cleaning freak or anything---in fact, that's one of my biggest struggles; my house is seriously a disaster! But it mattered that my house was not quickly dirtied. For once, I was mostly only responsible for myself. I had much more time to read and watch a Tom Hanks video with my mom and do whatever I wanted to. It has felt quite nice having fewer moving pieces in my life.
Of course I missed my kids and husband like crazy and I Facetimed them about a hundred times each day. But I've had to check my heart because I don't want to ever let myself think that "easier" is "better" and that I could be having a happier life if only I didn't have to spend so much energy on others.
Proverbs 14:4 has continually come to mind, which says "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
This is about more than farming, folks. The basic observation, I assume, is that if you are not working hard, there is no fruit for your labor. Sure, if you don't have any oxen it must be nice not having to clean the stalls of your barn, but you're also not producing anything. It sure has been nice not having to worry about cleaning bathroom countertops the past couple days, but there is much joy in knowing that thosewho are adding to my daily troubles are living people who, I pray, will one day treasure Jesus and be used mightily for His kingdom. Eternally-important things are happening and it's worth it.
This extends beyond parenting. Whether you're a single person or an empty nester or married with no kids, you must decide whether you will spend yourself for the sake of others. It's so very easy to spend every evening on Netflix or social media. So. Stinkin'. Easy. But usually, in almost every situation, the easiest way is not the best way. Finding needs and meeting needs, giving of your time and energy, pursuing and loving and praying and investing and learning and growing...it's all quite hard work, but it's investment and it's good.
Be encouraged, friends! You reap what you sow!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like lime green, Coke icees, and I wear my Crocs until they have holes in them...or melt.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today