An hour ago, this sink was full to heaping with stinky, slimy dishes.
We’ve been busy and it doesn’t take long for dirt to pile up everywhere, it seems.
It’s like that inside my head, too. Inside my heart.
I yelled at my two middle kids for yelling at each other even though the Spirit was whispering to me to stop, to breathe, to slow down. A few minutes later, I was slapping eggs in a skillet like I was planning to poison somebody and making sure everyone in the house knew their organic sausage was ill gotten gain for ungrateful people.
Sometimes I forget they’re watching, absorbing, becoming. Sometimes I don’t forget, I’m just too angry and self-righteous to care.
A few years ago, by noon on a day like today, I would have a running list of all my failures that would read in my head like a jury declaring a defendant guilty, guilty, guilty. At 25, I was quite sure all of you were doing a better job at running your lives than I was. I knew there was a secret, a plan, an approach to all this chaos and I was the only one out of the loop. There was a formula for everything else, why couldn’t I find the formula for raising a family and being happy? I felt like an imposter a lot of the time and I didn’t even know who I was supposed to be imitating.
I am still disorganized and forgetful by nature. Try as I might, I am just not geared for running a home full of kids the way some people are. It’s hard work and I’m not good at it, as much as I want to be. I have the summer off from my job and I still can’t for the life of me catch up on the basics. I’m sure a calendar would help. A chore chart would be refreshing. A more egalitarian approach to emotional and household labor would lighten my load. I’ve had my fair share of pep talks and renegotiations and those things really can bring some relief, albeit temporary. Eventually, all the systems and plans fall apart and break away because they’re all built on humans and don’t we all know by now that human beings are, at their very best, quite moody?
I don’t know exactly how the shift happened. I don’t have a ten step worksheet to bring weary mothers relief.
I just know it slowly soaked into my being that Jesus is already with me, with me in my kitchen, with me when I’m frustrated, with me when I hate myself for messing it all up again, with me when my heart is covered and cluttered and needs to be reset. He isn’t removed, watching and timing me as I struggle with spinning plates and old wounds and self-talk that I wouldn’t even aim at Donald Trump if he walked into the room . He is with me when I haven’t opened a Bible in a year. He was with me He is with me when I couldn’t feel him or see him or even believe in him much at all. I still can’t reconcile the goodness of God with the suffering of little children. I can’t always hold up in the tension of this already-not yet world. Creation groans and sometimes I do, too. I don’t know everything, I don’t even know a lot. All I’ve really got it is this: He is with me, with me, with me. He isn’t watching or waiting or withholding. He is with me. And He is bringing the Kingdom with him each time I take an old dirty pan and make it shine again. He is bringing his Kingdom each time I bring order from chaos, even though it’s not my gift and it never comes naturally. He is bringing his Kingdom here when I bring people into my home, in spite of the imperfection that follows me wherever I go. He is bringing His Kingdom each time I listen to his voice and my tone and my touch reflect his goodness to my children when they do wrong. He is bringing His Kingdom here every time I screw it all up, because that is the trajectory this old world is on. He is the one who makes dead things come alive again. Beauty from the ashes. Gladness for our mourning. He brings his Kingdom when I have eyes to see it and when I can only look at my own lack because hallelujah! He has never been waiting on me. None of it ever actually depended on me.
And so I wash the dishes no one wanted to touch and my heartbeat steadies with each plate. I turn on some music, I remember the bellies that were filled around my table. I wash a jar and set it in its place. I hear two boys, playing a room away. He is here with me. All is not lost, it just felt like it for a minute.