I died again today.
I woke up with a general plan for our day, as per usual. My plan did not include:
- Still being in my pajamas at noon.
- Feeding the kids cold pizza for lunch while keeping an eye on the dog, who looked like she might puke.
- Fussing at the kids for not paying attention during their memory drill, and that fussing igniting a quiet rage in my heart.
- Throwing out the multiplication flash cards and letting the kids play games on multiplication.com instead. (Less screen time, not more. Less. Less.)
- Feeling like an utter jerk.
But all of those things happened today, and I felt the pressure beneath my sternum slowly building to dangerous levels. But it was when I sent the kids to clean the bathroom, and they dropped a container of clear, gooey hand soap on to the floor, and the dog wanted to lick it up, that I finally burst in to tears.
The kids were horrified. They blamed one another, of course–instantly pointing fingers like their ancestors before them. And I cried, my unwashed face blotchy and forget-I-saw-it ugly. I cried, and I wanted them to see me crying. I pulled my martyr’s cloak around me, full of woe. Oh how I wanted them to know.
Middle son asked me tremulously, “Mom? Are…you alright?”
“No, I’m not alright! I’m dying to my flesh right now. And it hurts. I just want to have my plan and stick to it. I want my life how I WANT IT. I want things to work out the way I WANT THEM TO. I want you to always do what I tell you to do! And the Lord did not promise me that. He said that we have to be willing to lose our lives to gain them in the end. And…and I’m crying because not getting my way burns! It just burns…” I was sobbing now. I listened to the miserable woman uttering these words, snot-faced and shrinking. She, who couldn’t say anything nice.
After I’d cleaned up the goo in the bathroom, and breathed several faithless prayers, I felt a little better. But I ached, my heart pulsing like the gap where a tooth used to be. It was time for our daily Bible study and I felt unworthy to lead it. I asked the kids to take it over for today.
We were slated to read John 19, the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. As the kids took turns reading through the chapter, the words poured over me, and suddenly I knew again: Jesus died an agonizing death, and faced the worst spiritual darkness, so that I could die in little ways. He said ‘not my will but yours’ to the Father, once and for all, so that I could whisper it today when all my plans imploded. Jesus was willing to trade in everything for the joy set before him, so that–right now–I can shut my mouth when I’m tempted to start in on the kids again. So that I can live with chaos and laundry piles and disobedient children and selfishness (in me); so that I can accept hope deferred, in big ways and in small ones. He uttered ‘it is finished’ so that I can live, right now, in this moment.
Dying and yet alive.