A few years ago I was struck by the reality that the life I now live is often harder than the one I lived before God saved me. I didn’t get saved until early adulthood, so I have vivid memories of life before Christ. My life was certainly empty, but it was very different, and in many ways easier. Life after Christ became richer, but harder. It became hopeful, but filled with greater difficulty. I had joy, but not necessarily unending happiness. My sins were forgiven, but sometimes there wasn’t much else to rejoice in. The more I grew, the more I realized that I’m not alone. I even started seeing that the pattern of scripture is pain now, relief later (Rom. 8:22-24). God’s people must walk through a lot before they get the promised land, before they get glory (Acts 14:22).
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”—Isaiah 55:11
I used to think that this verse was primarily about salvation. When I would pray for people who had heard the truth of the gospel, I would pray that God’s word would not return void in their lives. I saw it as a verse that spoke to the great value of continuing to proclaim God’s word to the lost. God will work. He will scatter the seed of the gospel, water it, and reap a harvest. Don’t lose heart. God is always working.
One of the hardest parts about moving on from the hospital experience is moving on from the reality that life hung in the balance every single day we were in that hospital. With a placenta abruption time is of the essence, and because I had a partial abruption I was always hovering over the reality of a full abruption happening at any moment. For context, a full abruption means almost certain death for the mother and the baby in a matter of minutes. A full abruption gives no warning until it is too late, and then you are on the clock to save mom and baby. That is where we lived for three weeks, death crouching at our door. Every day we begged God not to let it walk right through to take Ben and me.
I joked after my book was finished that now I could go back to doing the work of the home again. I thought finishing the book meant I needed to get back to actually doing the work. I needed the perspective and the headspace to do it. But what I didn’t know is that I needed to experience the work. God wasn’t concerned about me getting back to work. He was concerned about humbling me and making a recipient of the work.
Of all the things I wrote in Glory in the Ordinary, perhaps the hardest thing for me to accept in the book is the fact that I can’t do it all. I wrote it. I’ve spoken about it. But I have a hard time believing it and living it out.
And then I went to the hospital.
There is a lot to be anxious about in this world. Even if you never turn on the news, you surely know enough about people (or even your own experience) to fill you with dread on any given day. This world is not the way God intended it to be.
I face my own share of things to be anxious about. I’m in the throes of the newborn days, so sleep is elusive. Wondering whether I will get a good stretch of sleep when my head hits the pillow at night can be anxiety inducing. I have four children ages four and under. I am regularly confronted with my limitations as a mom. That’s anxiety inducing. I also have my own sin that is ever before me. Will I ruin the people in my life because of my own failure and sin? And these aren’t even the worst of my anxious thoughts. Because of all that happened leading up to Ben’s arrival, I am still processing the trauma of that, which can lead to many anxious days (and nights). You could even say that on any given day anxiety is ever before me in varying degrees.
The days leading up to Mother’s Day can be hard. Even though I am no longer a barren woman, I still struggle with my own difficulties and guilt as Mother’s Day approaches. For the infertile or the mother struggling with loss, Mother’s Day is acutely difficult. It’s almost as if everything around you is reminding you of what you don’t have—what you long for but can’t have. And it can be painfully isolating.
The barren women of scripture didn’t have a national holiday to remind them of their lack, but they surely had their fill of individuals (Gen. 16:1-5, 1 Sam. 1:4-9). One person’s celebration is often the seat of another’s deep pain. The pages of scripture are filled with women who longed for wombs to bear children, who longed for children to be restored to health and wholeness, of women in deep pain over grief.
“Sometimes one of the most spiritual things you can do is sleep,” or so the saying goes. It’s been the constant refrain in my mind this past year as I’ve struggled to find rest, and more importantly, sleep. I want to be spiritual. I want to grow in godliness. I want to be kind to my family. And so often I find myself up against my inability to sleep, which then leads to a host of other problems.
One of the dangers in writing a book is the perception that the author has somehow arrived in living out the message of the book. As I’ve said before, writing is something I’m learning to do before I’ve arrived. Otherwise I would never write. As Glory in the Ordinary is now officially out to the public, I am reminded again just how much I have not arrived on the “finding purpose in at-home work” front. So, lest anyone think I wrote the book from a place of strength and domestic prowess, I hope this post helps settle that notion once and for all.
It’s book launch week for Glory in the Ordinary! One of the primary reasons I wrote the book is because I believe that all work (paid and unpaid) brings glory to God. God made us to work. He works and we image him in our work in the world that he has made. But I also know that I’m a product of a culture that places value on certain types of work, namely paid or higher paid work. I don’t do a lot of paid work in a given day. Maybe you are like me. Your days consist of just as much work as your husband or friend who work in the marketplace, but for the most part people don’t see what you are doing. The impact of your work is long-term, so it’s hard to quantify how it contributes anything good to society (unless you measure in years, not days and weeks).