I have a little troop to call my own. I feel tremendously blessed- crazy blessed. My three kids are sweet and cute and precious. They keep me on my toes in the best way. But sometimes, I go through seasons where rallying the troops is hard. In fact, rallying myself is harder than the dickens.
I feel like the commander of an army at times. Except I’m one very unique looking officer.
Enter me, toting my 38 weeks-pregnant belly in the heat of July. Forget the uniform- think Humpty Dumpty. By the time 3 o’clock rolls around, most days, I wonder how I’m going to put another foot in front of another. I wonder how I’ll make it to the end of the day. Or at least until my husband gets home.
By 3-o’clock we’ve done the conflict-of-the-wills a few too many times. The old routine just doesn’t seem to click. Parenting three under five requires dealing with lots of little wills, that do not always harmoniously or magically coincide with one another. I can pray for unity. That sometimes helps.
Usually, when the squalor is painful, the daily grind is threatening my sanity, and my energy for exertion reaches empty, my answer is a clementine, a teaspoonful of honey, and a Hail Mary. Or perhaps in addition, a power nap when my girls go down~ that is, if they nap at the same time, which happens seldomly! I remember that these days of combat will soon be over. We will “fly away, oh glory” and it will end as we reach eternal peace and rest.
But in the meantime, where can we turn? We can set our sights on a tower of idols a mile high— natural parenting, health food, parenting books, and the list goes on. Like Babel it will come tumbling down eventually. But forgive me- I want to bring up something terribly mundane. I want to talk about the grace of reading the Bible, and what it can do for you in those times of intense striving.
Reading God’s Word has the power to….
- Search our hearts
God’s Word has a special kind of power, you know? I try to do my daily readings, and by the way, Universalis is an excellent resource for reading the liturgy. I read it on my iphone. It can be a great app if you have the appropriate device.
The other day, I was reading Jonah. I got to the end and contemplated the passage about the plant that grew over Jonah. He was upset and angry that the plant died. God confronted Jonah about his anger.
Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
For the first time reading this passage, I could really see my self-pity in Jonah. I could choose to have heaps of self-pity given a moment’s chance to think. Probably the reason Jonah was so angry was that God was giving Ninevah mercy, yet he wanted justice for them, and mercy for himself as he sat out in the heat looking down. He was being self-righteous. He wanted to make the final judgment call, and it was going to be in his own favor.
It took Jonah three days with seaweed wrapped around his head inside the belly of a whale to convince that stubborn heart to repent and go God’s way. And even after he did, he still struggled and seethed with anger about the situation God allowed. Similar to Jonah, I have never felt like pitying myself so much in my life. I’m hot, tired, and my large pregnant belly invites unwanted comments and touches from strangers that can be downright exhausting.
I hope that for a few minutes everyday, I spend time in contemplation over the great and lavish love of God, so that I can teach my children not only how to be good, but how to know the good news. Why would God allow mercy to a stubborn, hard-hearted people? And why does he give us mercy, time and time again? I hope that I can model repentance to them and to my husband- even on a daily basis. And even though sometimes, like Jonah, I can hear God rebuking my sinful heart, it is also bound up in his love and mercy for me. He is giving me a second chance, like Jonah, the classic second-chance story.
Scripture keeps me closer to the heart of God; the loving heart of God. The words of scripture are living, active, and sharper than a double-edged sword. Sometimes a clementine doesn’t cut it, when you are really starving to hear good news. Reading the story of Jonah could shrink your self-pity down to size. And in the process, give your heart a dose of mercy. Hopefully, in turn, you can give your child or children a second chance… or a third, or even a fourth. 🙂
Copyright 2013 Tacy Beck