So I ran away from home this morning. Well, I didn’t really run, more a quick walk. And it wasn’t really away from home, it was away from my family. They were parked in the mini-van next to the church. I kid you not.
Ry was still in the church, due out any second, the kids were buckled up after yet another frustratingly exhausting and demoralizing Sunday morning at church. Everyday around here has felt that way lately. I don’t know if it’s Isaac’s transition home from school for the summer, his and Hannah’s transition to spending all day every day with one another, the unfortunate clashing of their disparate developmental stages, their mother’s status as a total, certifiable basket case, or all of the above. Whatever the source, these last couple of weeks have been hard. Really, deep in my soul hard.
This morning I hit a wall.
After another crummy Sunday at church—we’ve been in a crummy pattern for the last two months or so, prior to that Sunday morning was a happy, happy time in our family. . . .After another crummy Sunday at church, I was returning to the minivan after helping close up the church, barring the door (literally), and before I even got within reach of the thing, I could hear it. The whining. The yelling. The he said/she said/mommy solve this problem for us cries. And I hit the wall.
I shut the van doors and kept walking. And walking. And walking. I can’t say for sure but I’m thinking I made it two miles.
Up the hill I stormed, walking as fast as my legs could carry me. Too furious overwhelmed frustrated defeated—I’m not really sure—to form thoughts. Just blind fury, or rage, or I don’t even know if there was anger in it. But it was blind. And it was overpowering.
Down the hill I began to cry out. Why? Why oh why oh why did I agree to have children, God?! I’m sorry. I’m sorry I told you I wanted to have children for you. I shouldn’t have had children. I’m totally incapable of being a mother.
Lee, you know I don’t make mistakes. You know I knew what I was doing when I gave you these children.
Yeah, I know. I know they’re really your children. Your children you’ve given to me for a time to guide and teach. But I just can’t do it. And I don’t know if I really believe that anyway. I mean in my head, yeah, but when it comes to the day-to-day? I’m not so sure. I think I still think I’m responsible for how they turn out. I don’t think I really believe all this stuff I spout off on all the time. I’m just saying it.
Huff, puff, huff . . . Uphill I climb. I just can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this. I am such a horrid, horrid mother. I’m doing something horribly wrong. I can’t do this by myself. I can’t make it through the week without my husband I can’t I can’t even do it with him home. I can’t I suck I can’t.
I see daisies on the side of the road. Consider the lilies of the field. Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about tomorrow. Fine, sure. But I can’t even make it through the right now. I know I’m supposed to lean in to you. My grace is sufficient. I know that. I hear that. Maybe I don’t know it. I don’t see how. I don’t hear it, I don’t feel it. I just can’t get through the every moment of every day.
Down the hill I go. Trod trod trodding. I just can’t do it. Fine, don’t worry about tomorrow. I know that. But I can’t do right now. When they’re screaming and whining at each other and Ruth the Wonder Will is yelling NO! at me and screaming at me, what in the world am I doing? What am I raising? Ugh. And look at that big hill, another big hill . . .
Don’t look at the whole hill in front of you. Just look immediately in front of you, just right in front of your feet. Don’t worry that you’re going up hill. Just take every step forward, I will get you over the hill.
Oh. This little two-foot square of asphalt in front of me is not a hill, it’s just a couple of steps to take. I won’t look at the hill in front of me, that way it won’t overwhelm me. Just take the steps to cross this square of asphalt right in front of me. . .
Yes. That’s it. Just the steps right in front of you. I will give you what you need right now, let me worry about where you’re going. These are my children too. I can get them where I want to get them in spite of you. Let me worry about the hill, about the long range. You deal with the moment to moment.
Yeah, but that’s not exactly true. I do have to worry about how these kids are going to make their future decisions, how they’re going to deal with conflict, how they will face the world.
You are not their only influence. You are not in charge of the universe, Little Miss Reformed Girl.
Oh. Well. I don’t want to screw it up. I don’t. I don’t want to turn them away from you because I am loving them so badly all in your name.
Just focus on the steps in front of you. I will get you over the hill.
Wow. I made it up that big hill. It’s flat now. I can breathe more easily. And I hear the tell-tale squeak of my minivan breaks behind me. A kind and gentle man looks out the window and asks if I want a ride.
Then I eavesdrop on a conversation in the back of the minivan.
“God is everywhere Hannah. He could be sitting right here next to us. There’s only one God, but he’s everywhere.”
“Is he over there by the bushes?”
“He could be, you never know.”
“Is he there on the side of the road, next to that dog?”
“Yep. He’s there next to that dog.”
“Maybe he’s taking care of the dog.”
“Sure he’s taking care of the dog. He’s taking care of everybody. You can’t see him, but you know. This you know: that he’s there, he’s always there with you.”
“Isaac, how come we talk to God and he can hear us but we can’t hear him?”
“Well, Hannah, the thing is, sometimes if you’re very quiet and you listen very carefully and you pray to God and you’re very quiet and you listen, you can hear him talking to you. He’s everywhere.”
Even following a renegade mommy as she runs away from home. Even sitting in a dirty smelly minivan with a sweaty mommy and tired children. Speaking to the renegade mommy through the sweet faith of her children. Reminding her both that she’s never out of his reach, and that she must not have been doing such a horrible job after all.