He Gave Me This Valley

This morning I looked deeply into the eyes of the office manager at Integrity Auto Repair and said, “I really hate parenting.” He was clearly uncomfortable.

I mean, ok, that’s too strong, right. But… you know… there are moments!

Beside the front desk there was this wonderful little hospitality table.
Here, Clients! Enjoy yourself while you wait on your car!
It made my hour a three ring circus.
My 2 year old spent the entire oil change trying to swipe flavored creamers, snort Sweet-N-Low packets, steal drinks from the mini fridge, shred the magazines, and juggle the coffee cups. And it’s fine. It’s fine. Fine. All fine. But I’m tired. I just want this wee tornado of chaos to play with the train table like the children in the advertisements.
Oh, Pampers-Box-Boy, I bet you never get into this kind of trouble!

Gloria Furman has a bunch of books about how to be a mother in a holy way… “Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full”, “Glimpses of Grace”, “Missional Motherhood.”

Bless. Bless her heart. Just… freaking… Bless it right to death.

I want to serve the Lord joyfully in this holy calling of raising up the next generation. I do. But I’m bored.

I don’t want to slouch through each day, trying to survive the insanity of what feels like one million meal times. But if I have to scrape congealed oatmeal out of one more bowl… so help me.

I want to move through the hours with a spirit of blessing and grace because of Jesus’ holy quest to redeem the world. These days that are a gift. These children are a treasure. Oh they are! Precious gifts. And these are sacred moments never to be wasted.

But also, I’m over it.

Still? Yes STILL!
I’m still over it. I’ve been complaining about it for 4 years. Blah blah blah, we get it! I’m sorry! I don’t have that much more to talk about. My life is boring.

The truth is, I have grown. I know I have. In wisdom, in love, in patience, in hope. I’ve grown in every area of my life, and I am so thankful… but OH those steps of growth have been tiny and difficult. And I’m still over it.

My devotional reading today said: “Baby steps of trust are simple. You take them with almost unconscious ease. Giant steps are another matter altogether: leaping across chasms in semidarkness, scaling cliffs of uncertainty, trudging through the valley of the shadow of death. These feats require sheer concentration as well as utter commitment on the Lord.”

This is my Giant Step. This is my valley of the shadow of “I’m Dying Inside.”
Giant leaps of faith rarely look like giant leaps of faith. It is somehow easier to hurl yourself on the mercy of the Father when ALL THE THINGS are on the line or when you’re executing a major feat of trust. It’s so present in those seasons. So immediate. Like being caught in a storm. You CLING to your lifelines with a whole hearted, ferocious hope.

But to tread still waters… To float on the glassy, endless, daily sea of the mundane… To just keep believing that somehow you still matter, that you’re not going to shrivel up and die here, that you’re going somewhere, that you’re not abandoned to the fishes… oh my sweet friends, that is a GIANT DIFFICULT FAITH THING.

Maintaining in the mundane is the most major test of blind faith ever. Ev. Er. Big achievements ain’t no thang. Writing a book, designing a hotel, creating any craft ever… easy peasy. But getting three humans dressed, into the YMCA for a run, and completing a grocery store run… day after day after day after day? Torture.

And does the Lord know this? Oh he absolutely does. If it takes 10,000 jelly sandwiches and 20,000 baths to teach me how sweet it is to lean into the Lord’s love… then that’s exactly what he will give me. In Mundane Mom Land, all I have left to hope in is his definition of my worth, his promise of purposefulness, his hand of blessing on my imperfect head. Without those things I would implode… because I don’t really DO anything worthy. I don’t really have any clear purpose… unless you count cheerios. And I need a hair trim and an eyebrow wax. My face is turning into something only a mother could love. Or my heavenly father. So I taste and see that the Lord is good.

This is my mountain. This is my stretched place.
For me nothing has ever been so mountainy or so stretching.

What is yours? Take a minute to reflect… try to put your finger on it.

In that place, do you know this… Not only is it ok to struggle there, you have been invited into this valley specifically because it is hard. And you are loved. This invitation comes from His tender heart right into your hungriest, weakest places. He enters right into our messy bits, to make them new and beautiful.

Jesus doesn’t say, “I will use all your best parts and strongest stuff and shiny newness. If you can’t offer that to me, come back when you can.” Nope. His master plan IS your mess. His love is so deep that he says, “Look what I can do with cheerios! If I can make beautiful things out of the dust… what will I do with your mighty places in due time?”

Sometimes I hate parenting, but parenting’s desert has taught me to understand my own worth and his deep love.

If sweet water can come up out of this dry season… then we have nothing to fear.
It’s ok to be over it. But it’s good to be here.

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light.
:::Psalm 37:5:::

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