“That can be a sign that she sees you as compulsive, as being more interested in tasks than in being attentive to the people in your life.” I listened intently as the psychologist explained one of our daughter’s drawings, pointing to the pencil-sketch of me washing laundry in the ‘family’ drawing. “Typically, if a child draws his or her mother cooking food or with a child, it portrays an affectionate and loving spirit, a mother who is interested in providing for the needs of her family members. When a mother is depicted as cleaning in their child’s drawing, it shows that the child feels she can be impulsive and too task-oriented.”
I knew the psychologist was right.
That was several weeks ago, and between that newfound understanding and several others like it, God is helping me to recover from an over-achieving, do-er attitude and to rest in the perfect peace He intends for us, to learn how to love again.
Even yesterday, after having spent over eight hours between homeschool, preparing breakfast and lunch for the family, and coordinating various chore assignments, in the afternoon when Gleny asked eagerly if I could sit with her and work on her coloring book, I felt an immediate pull to escape, to go do something instead of be with her. My first thought was But I need to sweep the house and…
But I could feel Christ’s gentle pull to just rest and be. To love and enjoy this little girl that He has placed in my life — this princess of His — and color some panda bears and dolphins all the shades of the rainbow.
This urge to go and do, although many times it is in God’s name and for the intended benefit of others, has led me to a season of stress and very intense insomnia. I believe I am finally on the recovery swing, and after having many things stripped from me, He has shown me that in my own strength – however fast I ran the timed mile in high school or however many times I have joyfully hiked up mountainsides with family and friends – I can literally do nothing. He has taken me down from whatever tower of deeds I had constructed for myself, and shown me that apart from Him, I am nothing. The peace over our household, the radishes that we harvest from our backyard, every breath I take – all come from His grace. I cannot demand that peace dwell in the hearts of my loved ones, nor can I make the radishes grow or will my own lungs to work. All is an outflowing of God’s incomprehensible grace.
Several mornings in the last few weeks, I have felt God calling me to rise early, to find Him in the still, quiet hours before there is too-loud music playing on the stereo and several children constantly clamoring for my attention. I have oftentimes stood on our porch in amazement during the chilled, tranquil mornings, a very tangible sense of awe sweeping over me as I look out at the mist covering the mountain range behind our home, the birds of paradise beginning their early calls, another perfect day spilling forth from the heart of the Creator. In those early-morning moments, He tells me to slow down, to awaken to His breathtaking beauty and to just receive who He is.
One biblical passage that we read frequently with the children and in our personal lives is Jesus’ radical call not to worry – about clothes, food, drink, or what tomorrow may bring. I oftentimes become frustrated when the children don’t ‘get it.’ When they still worry about food or have seventy-three questions about what we are going to do tomorrow. When they want to control others or feel they must fight for their place. But they know Jesus’ command and claim to be his followers, I think. In all of this time, however, I,more than anyone else, have missed the point. I have had my gaze too intently fixed on the preoccupations of tomorrow, fret about next month’s finances or try to peek into what next year might bring. I have proclaimed Jesus’ call to genuine trust while secretly allowing worry to eat away at my gut, trying to take matters into my own hands, under my own control, rather than falling into the hands of the Living God.
I will now fall. I will now obey, rest. I will trust that He will bless our home with peace, that He, not I, will make our radishes grow, that He will orchestrate my next breath. And even when the kids don’t behave peacefully or the crop fails or my lungs stop, I know in the depth of my heart that He is still good, that His love began before the conception of this world and will continue after it is gone, that everything from the beauty of the morning mist to Gleny’s sloppy cheek kisses to Jesus’ death on the cross is an outpouring of His incomprehensible grace, a manifestation of His majesty.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.¨
Jesus of Nazareth in the book of St. Matthew 6:25-34