I had the perfect parking spot at the grocery store. It was right in front and next to one of those cart corrals. Once I got my groceries in the car I wouldn’t have to push the cart through the dirty, slushy snow that covered most of the parking lot. I never get that good of a parking spot, so of course, I get a phone call that causes me to have to abandon the spot before I even got out of my car.
Thanks to some jerk of a driver that ran through a stop sign, my daughter ended up in a huge snowbank. And to make it worse, the guy didn’t even turned around to see if she was OK, help her get out, nothing!
(I just want to put it out there, that maybe you should pray for the driver of that old, grimy green pick up truck with the red plow on the front. Because if I ever find him, he’s going to need it.)
God be praised, my daughter was completely unharmed and other than a little bending on the front fender from hitting the snow, her car was undamaged as well. However, what I had planned on doing this afternoon had to be abandoned, and I have no idea now what we’re having for dinner. I think there are some beef jerky sticks in the pantry…we do have peanut butter and jelly…and carrots. I might be able to work with that.
How often do we make plans, big or little, and something comes up that just throws everything out the window? It’s pretty much the story of my life. (You know I have a teenage girl in my house when the first thing that pops into my mind after typing that is the One Direction song…) I don’t know if it’s because I have kids, if it’s because I’m naturally unorganized, if I get easily distracted, or maybe a combination of all three? Please tell me that I am not the only woman on the planet that has these issues. I know it drives my husband insane sometimes. But God love him, he’s getting more patient as he gets older. He comes home from work and sees the fur flying around here so he just helps himself to a beef jerky stick and a couple carrots, and sits down to relax for the evening. He knows eventually there will be an actual meal to eat at some point.
I often will beat myself up when the things I had all planned out go awry. Sometimes it’s my own fault, for which I probably deserve the beating. Like when I get hooked on too many online Scrabble games and I lose track of time. Or when I’m standing in the bathroom half dressed, having a text conversation my daughter, who’s already at church, about whether the black knit boots she’s wearing on stage was the right choice of footwear or maybe the black leather flats would have looked better and I end up missing most of the worship time because I’m 20 minutes late. But then when things like today happen, I still feel like I’ve messed things up. Yet it wasn’t anything I could have controlled. Someone else’s poor decision (running a stop sign) caused me to not have dinner on the table.
Wait…does that actually make sense?
Yes. It does, actually. But no one is going to fault me for it. We aren’t going to starve, and the kids will probably be thrilled at the chance for junk food; seeing as I’ve been really focusing on more natural and organic foods lately. It was just something that happened and I have to be OK with it. There are times when we have to best of intention regarding our relationship with God. We tell ourselves (and Him) that we are going to get back into the Bible, pray more often, we are going to be more active in our church, etcetera, etcetera. Then that morning comes when something happens and it starts throwing your plans off kilter. Before you know it the week is over and you’re still at Genesis chapter 2. And you decided that your prayer time would be at the end of the day, when all the distractions were gone. Problem is, you are laying in bed with your eyes closed. Next thing you know the dog is barking downstairs to be let out, your husband is in the shower getting ready for work and you’re wondering what the heck happened! So you start beating yourself up:
“Why can’t I be like so-and-so? She is so put together, and she’s a total prayer warrior, and her kids always look like their hair is brushed!”
“Why can’t I just discipline myself, and focus on my spiritual life? Why do I keep screwing it up?”
“I let God down AGAIN.”
(Just inserting a side note – I am continuing this the next day because, well, Mom’s Taxi Service was on call again. By the time we all got home, after getting Mexican take-out for dinner, my brain was done for the day. Now with some coffee in me, I resume…)
Honestly, I think God understands. He’s not up there keeping score. He doesn’t have a clipboard with your name at the top and makes a red check mark every time you don’t go to your “quiet place,” play worship music softly in the background and begin a King-James-version-type prayer that would put the Apostle Paul to shame. Especially if you’re a mom still with kids at home, you’re lucky if you can complete an actual thought sometimes, let alone anything else. Silly me, I thought that would change as my kids got older. But the distractions just changed in design.
We have to find what works for us. For me, when we finished our basement I actually got a room to myself. It’s not foolproof because the kids know where it is; installing a secret door that bolts shut only from the inside wasn’t really an option. But it does afford me some time and space to have a few moments of just me and Jesus. I think that’s all He’s asking for. He understands that we have a family, a job, a home; aren’t those things actually blessings from God? We just can’t let our blessings get in the way of the One who gave them. Some of you may disagree with me, and it’s not the end of the world if you do; but I think it’s OK if your prayer time is sitting in the car, waiting for your kids to get out of school, or lifting someone up to the Lord briefly as you sit at a stoplight. Maybe it’s while you’re standing at the stove stirring the spaghetti sauce and you give Him thanks for the full pantry and fridge. For the longest time, I thought that the only way I would be a real follower of Christ was to sit down and read pages and pages and pages in the Bible, then meticulously offer up a lengthy and eloquent prayer…every day…preferably at 5:00 in the morning when I would have no distraction or tasks to pull me away yet. When that wasn’t working for me, I got frustrated and told myself that I was a terrible Christian because I couldn’t do that. But eventually I found that my time with God, scattered here and there throughout the day, actually worked. And I discovered that because I was talking to Him off and on all the time, I started feeling a deeper connection. God made me the way I am. I am a “scattered” person whose thoughts move rapidly from one thing to the next. So why should I think that my walk with God should be different that who I am?
Hopefully that makes sense, and hopefully you’re not thinking I’m a total nut job that probably should never have been allowed to care for small human beings. But my point is, your relationship and walk with God should be a reflection of who YOU are; who God created YOU to be. Not who God created the pastor’s wife to be, or the uber-organized classroom mom that the folks at Pinterest go to for ideas. God sees your busy life, but He also sees your heart. And on those days when life has you going in ten different directions at the same time, but your heart still beats for Him, it’s OK. When, at the end of the day, you’re laying in bed with your eyes closed and are thanking Him for all He’s given…and suddenly you drift off before saying “Amen,” I think He just smiles and quiets the noisy world around you.
We all have the best laid plans; all the things that we feel that we need to accomplish. As long as we never lose our connection with God in our pursuit of the never-finished-to-do-list, I think we will be all right.
Céad míle beannachta.
(One hundred thousand blessings)