On Sundays, I’ll pour out a little of my soul – Soul Pour Sunday, if you will. I’ll talk about motherhood, marriage, and work, but in a way that acknowledges the struggles and triumphs as a product of the Lord’s ever-present assistance and guidance. As always, I hope you can read these words and breathe a sigh of relief as you realize we all share the load together.
We are in the process of buying a house – a cute little twin in a neighborhood within walking distance of where I teach. We close in just about two weeks, and I can’t wait to get out of our mousy – and no I don’t mean as in the color reference – cramped apartment and into our very own space, even if part of that space still includes a shared wall. We have dealt far too long with the smell of questionable substances floating through our vents, shady cars idling in our parking lot, and loud neighbors waking us up in the night (one of whom we’re convinced sent me into labor with Anastasia).
It will be our first home, a place where our family can, God willing, grow, blossom, and flourish as we dive deeper into this vocation of marriage and family life. It will be a place where we learn more about each other, more about our family, and more about our community.
It will also be an opportunity for us to humble ourselves. We’ll get to take a good, hard look at how we’re living and ask ourselves if certain luxuries or conveniences are worth it. We’ll get to ask ourselves if we’re building a home for the camera or building a home for hearts and souls to dwell. We’ll get to ask ourselves if we want to accept help or try to do it all on our own.
I come from a family of people who believed in making a way for yourself, by yourself. It was a point of pride that my parents could move away from home, join the military, and figure out life as a young family on their own. I’ve always admired their tenacity. Their work ethic and drive are what motivated me to work hard in school, apply for countless jobs, prepare for interviews, and seek out and finally find my dream job. It also gave me the confidence to move away from home myself, where, even though my then-boyfriend’s-now-husband’s family helped me tremendously in giving me a place to live until I found a place of my own, I, too, could “make it work” as a recent college grad, fully and blessedly employed.
But as we’ve gone through each stage of our lives, what we can do by ourselves has seemingly diminished – or maybe we’ve started to realize just how important it is to bring people in who truly want to help you, who desire to serve you. One of my closest teacher friends came over about a month before Annie was born to help me prepare about a month’s worth of freezer meals for post-baby survival. After Annie was born, my parents visited for a week to help us, clean, cook, and watch Annie while we got a minute or two to catch our breath and rest. Adam’s parents and siblings have babysat more times than we can count, and his mother watches Annie for a couple of days each week now that Adam and I are both working.
And whenever I feel like I’m drowning, when I get yet another report from the daycare that Annie had a tough day, when I’m up for the fourth time in one night and Annie wants me and pushes me away all in the same breath, when 4:45 a.m. rolls around and Annie is ready to start the day, when I still have to teach all day after those long nights and early mornings, when the laundry basket is empty for half a second before more clothes get thrown in, when the dishwasher and sink are both full of dirty dishes and I haven’t started dinner yet and Annie is tugging on my leg, when I’m ready to fall over into bed at the end of the day but I still have to pump, I have a circle of mama friends who I can send a quick SOS text out to so I can at least hear the words “Me, too” from someone else who understands.
We are not meant to do this alone. Every day I have to force myself to step back, assess the reality of the situation and say, “Yes, I will accept the help you are offering.”
I will let my heart rest and restore while You shoulder some of this cross. I will beg for grace and actually allow it to enter, even if it comes in a way I wasn’t expecting. I will pray with my feet while I take steps on the path of my vocation. And when it comes down to it, I will take a deep breath, put my head down, and get to it, because at the end of the day, this is the work that You need me to do. This is the work for which You created me.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” – Hebrews 4:15-16