***This post was posted on the Women’s Life Blog November 3, 2016.
The further I journey into life as an adult and specifically as a wife and a mom the more I learn that this stage and these roles are best-summarized by the word again. Spending the day with little ones means that very little is actually ever permanently checked off the to-do list. It means less sleep or “me time”, rare quiet showers, perpetual noise and mess and the absence of neat, perfectly-prepared dinners (or really neat, perfectly-prepared…anything). It means journeying down painful roads of loss, grief, death and divorce and dealing with the unmet expectations life has handed you.
It means many mundane, repetitive things. It means many hard things.
Making a grocery list and planning meals for the week. Again.
Changing diapers. All day every day. Again.
Getting the tearful phone call. Again.
Washing milk and applesauce off of small hands and faces. Again.
Telling your three-year to sit down at the table. Again.
Filling snack cups, washing hands, brushing teeth. Again.
Wiping noses, packing diaper bags, reading books. Again.
Folding cloth diapers, changing wet onsies, folding pants, finding shoes. Again.
Packing Tom’s lunch. Again.
Washing uniforms. Changing sheets. Hanging fresh towels. Again.
Scrubbing floors, vacuuming carpets, dusting, wiping down doorknobs. Again.
Snuggling the teething toddler during the night. Again.
Pouring out heartfelt prayers for grieving family members. Again.
Giving vitamins, filling water bottles, washing dishes. Again.
Paying bills, updating medical records, sending thank-you cards. Again.
What I sometimes (often) fail to see is that each of these agains, each of these repetitions, each of these seemingly mundane, insignificant tasks is the opportunity to offer worship to He who gives all good gifts and who cares far more deeply about the state of our hearts than our homes or the ease of our journey through life. Moments of sanctification are often far less dramatic than we expect them to be. They are disguised as a sink of dirty dishes, spilled cereal, dirty diapers, a phone call you need to make time for, husbands who are caught in traffic on their way home from work, children who won’t go to sleep, low finances and high school payments, endless work responsibilities and the host of disappointed expectations that accompany each of those frustrations.
“Again” is an altar on which we can offer a unique type of worship. A place to bring humble, service as an offering, a place to repent of selfishness, a place to worship even when our hands are full of brokenness and dirty washcloths. Again is where we have a sacred chance to press into a deeper knowledge of the sustaining grace of God we wouldn’t otherwise have access too. I’ll often walk the first mile willingly and the second mile a bit begrudgingly but…what about the instances where I’m called to go the third mile? To walk a seemingly perpetual road of repetive sacrifices? The third mile is often lonely, hardly glamorous and full of small sacrifices that no one will ever know about.
Do you know what one of the most comforting thought to me is in those moments spent walking the third mile? In striving to offer the sacrifices of hard-won praise on the altar of again? The knowledge that many moments of life are supposed to be hard and lonely. That sounds far from comforting but, in a culture that idolizes comfort and abundance the moments (and months and years) of life that are undeniably hard can feel disconcerting in their persistence. Acknowledging the reality that our God forewarned us that there would be trials of various kinds and that we live in a world irreparably broken and full of struggling people helps to normalize the hardships along the way and helps my heart to find greater patience with the inevitable potholes on the road.
The sustaining reality that we must also cling too is the simple fact that we don’t walk the road alone. We never walk the road alone. Christ himself travels with us. Oh, the unimaginable comfort it is to know that our “God who contracted to a span [and was] incomprehensibly made man” is walking closer than our next breath, closer than a friend ever could. He grips our hands when we stumble, teaches us to speak brokenness fluently so we can minister to others on the road and encourages our weary spirits with the truth that it is all for a short season.
In that place of perpetual sacrifice that we call today, between the now and the not yet, the inhale and the exhale, the pain and healing, the grace given and the grace to come, the vision and the reality may God himself meet you with the grace that is necessary to offer your own sacrifice of praise and walk the shattered road of the third mile.