I recently had this epiphany, or if you're more of an Oprah fan, an "ah-ha moment". It was right after my daughter's threenager birthday, where she realized she could do everything on her own and became even more stubborn than before. And during the time we were also experiencing the blessing of our sweet baby taking off his baby pants and slipping on the toddler shorts we all know and "love" so well.
The other morning, I was trying to "rock" the said toddler to nap. Its oddly inspiring to me the way toddlers can be so strong willed. If I had the will of a toddler, I might be ruling the world, but my will is only as strong as the distance between me and a donut, while on a diet. How can someone literally be asleep, with eyes closed, while still kicking me like a banshee? Obviously no amount of rocking and gently singing "Jesus Loves Me" was going to convince him it was ok to just relax. No, he's been convinced somewhere in his life time that when going to sleep, you must fight against it with all that is within you. He's lived through bed time with his siblings long enough to know, this is how things are done. So there I was, mentally tallying the hours I've spent fighting children to sleep, as I got a few round house kicks to the face and stiffed armed in the neck. There's no way I was gunna lay him in his bed to fuss, because 3 years ago, I had the audacity to speak against "crying-it-out" on Facebook. So, stuck between my toddler and a Facebook post, my gentle songs started to sound a little more agitated, but sleep was inevitable and the kicking was starting to get less intense. I laid him down in his bed with every fiber in my being on edge, wondering if he would stay asleep and wishing he would just let me rock him to sleep like the Pampers commercials on TV.
Then it hit me, I spend more time longing for presents, rather than Presence.
Allow me to explain...
Time. I wish I had the gift, the present, of more time. All through my day as the clock ticks and my to-do list grows, I long for more time. I wish my babies would be babies longer. I wish I had more time to cook, to clean, to teach, to play, to sleep, to relax, to date. I find myself frustrated and stressed out, all too often. Always late, yelling at my kids to find their shoes. Aggravated exhales and irritated glances in the rear view mirror, as we finally pull out of the garage to get to our destination, 5 mins behind, again. If the Lord would just give me more time. If I could just figure out the right equation and way to do things, life could be so much better.
Sleep. OH sweet, sweet sleep. Kids hate it, but I love it. I ache for more sleep. What a gift that would be! Sometimes I honestly think I could sleep for 12 hours but somehow still be tired. If I go to bed early, the dishes dont get done, or the laundry lives in the dryer. If I fold the laundry, its 11pm by the time I tap out for the day and my alarm will go off in 6 hours. If the Lord would only bless me with more rest, I could maybe actually "rise and shine" for once.
Ease. Surely there is a printable calendar on Pinterest that would give me more ease in life? I just have yet to find it. Or if my husband would come home on his white horse, dinner in hand, with plans to watch a chick-flick, hire a maid and put the kids to bed himself, I could maybe breathe long enough to enjoy this life. If the Lord would just lighten my load, including the bills, a little bit, things could be so much better.
Possessions. I say I don't like getting presents as much as I love to give. Buuuuuut I often hide behind the idea that a bigger home would be better to host more people and would be a great way to minister to others. Ha! New appliances and fancy cars are always in my radar. Better clothes. A bathroom renovation Chip and Joanna Gaines would be proud of. The list is long. If God would only choose to "bless" us a little more.
Health. I woke up with goopey eyes and a stuffy nose today, a present from my children. But I find myself always longing for a life with no colds and no vomit, whoa is me the mom who has to wash a barf car-seat. What a gift it would be to have kids who didn't get sick so often. Sick children always take the front seat and in a home with multiple kiddos, the length of time it takes to make its rounds could be weeks, or just in time to catch another cold from Cubby Bear at church.
All these treasures I lay up and long for. The clock might move slower, but the bills get bigger and someone's head hurts. My husband is a true hero and does the dishes, but the baby wakes up 7 times in the night and the tire got popped and now we need a new one. Everyone has been healthy for weeks, and things are relatively easy but my husband has to work late and the dishwasher is flooding the kitchen.
This side of heaven, nothing will ever be all good, all the time. Yet I vainly and pointlessly spend my time longing more for presents than I do Presence.
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
When I spend my time wishing babies slept longer and dinners cooked them self, I spend my time in futility. When I spend my time, longing for and seeking the presence of God, children could be throwing up on me and the place I call home could be a little less than "pinteresting" but truth is, the peace that Jesus offers is better than any present I could get.
Psalm 73:28 says "But for me it is good to be near God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may tell of all your works." Jesus doesn't promise, more time, ease of life, good sleep, possessions, or stable health. He promises joy in His presence not presents. So today while I sweep my kitchen and avoid the fact that it actually needs mopped, I will breathe deep and realize that what I really long for is the peace only the presence of Christ could offer, not a maid. In the good moments and the bad, I'm learning to quit saying "why God?" and say "How God?" instead. In His presence the good is sweeter and the bad is bearable. Rather than spending my time bemoaning the laundry, I will think on the truths of God, read my Bible and this time joyfully sing "Jesus Loves Me" to the toddler who will punch me in the face anyway.