The Hard And The Holy

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I'm sitting here late at night listening to the rain beat against the house. There are empty dinner plates, a half eaten chocolate chip cookie, and a coffee I drove in the rain for with all three children sitting next to me as I write. Rain. Dishes. Cookies. Coffee. They spell home to me.

I've stacked the kid's schoolbooks up on the counter neatly and arranged posters on the wall - constellations, the alphabet, and butterfly species, knowing they'll all be taken down in a couple weeks when we move. To where, I don't even know. They make me feel organized and in control, as if everything in the world could go wrong, but I could point to my posters when everything was going down and know that it wasn't.

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The couch I love to relax on with my books and the hum of the laundry going in the background is disheveled because a little boy had an accident on it today. More laundry. So I sit here at the kitchen table instead...I feel out of place. I want to know what it feels like to live in someone else's Instagram feed with kayak adventures, new england coffee houses, thin bodies in bathing suits, sunnies perched on freckled noses, and couches that don't need to be cleaned.

Hard. The rain is beating harder now and I begin to feel grateful for a house and a heater at the end of July. God has been good to give me a mild summer in the south as my body grows and my tolerance lessens. I hardly know how we've made it to the third trimester and yet, I feel it. Every single day of this past year with the transitions and the decisions, the aches and pains, and the plodding away. I feel all of it on late nights like these when my back is sore, the kids need putting to bed, the dishes need to be done, and I wait for someone to offer, only to realize it's me. It's my job. I am the person.

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Life. I feel baby Hugh kicking and dancing as if it isn't midnight and I want to cry because it feels so good to know he's safe, even if it makes my sleep interrupted. I start scouring Pinterest boards for gifts to get Shiloh for her birthday next week and stumble upon a bunny plate I know she'll love. I suddenly remember we need to feed dinner to our bunny, so I get up to go get carrots from the refrigerator, only to realize there are none, and it doesn't matter. This jolts my memory to the hard conversations we've had with the kids in the past few days, the kind where I wore my sunglasses so they couldn't see me crying. Sophie is sick. Sophie has to leave us. Time to say our goodbyes...

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Love. The hard kind. The kind where you make decisions you wish you didn't have to make and you watch your kids hurt melding into your own hurt and you want to take it all away. Replace it with coffee. And cookies. And school posters on the wall. Escape feels good when life is hard and you want to fill it up with distractions piled upon distractions that all amount to time wasted on everything but the thing you need to resolve to do. Isn't that so much easier than dealing with the muck and the mire? Isn't doing what feels good and instantly satisfying so much more satiating than waiting and praying and wondering? Or getting up in the morning resolving to do the hard for one more day? I find myself glancing out the window...I wonder what it feels like to not be 26 with four children and answering questions about sickness, goneness, and Jesus' plan to restore.

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Holy. "Be ye holy, as I am holy." I used to think that verse was hyper spiritual, and that pastors and mission team members and women much older than I, needed to think about holiness and doing right when the easy is so much easier. I look around waiting for someone to say, "Here am I, Lord" and realize there is no one. It's just me.

I am the volunteer.

Maybe I'm supposed to be holy. It sounds so unattainable, like priests and nuns should get that job. It also seems like one more thing to beat myself up about, one more thing to add to my growing To-Do list, along with bed routine keeper, laundry doer, discipliner, teacher, dish-washer, writer, supporter, house mover...until it hits me in a wave of conviction. Maybe that is my holy? Maybe holy isn't for mission fields and pastor's wives. Maybe holy is for sinks and sore backs. Dinner dishes and couch covers in urine. Maybe holy is wrapped up in boxes for another move, and support for my husband's career. Maybe, just maybe, my call to holy is here. In conversations about bunnies and blog posts that split open the raw and the real. Maybe holy looks like faithful prayer in the still of the night when I think someone is breaking in, and not spiritual giants. Maybe holy looks like turning the music off and listening for a still, small, voice when all I want to do is hang school posters.

Maybe? Holy looks a lot like the everyday hard.

"Please hear me, Girl: the world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things." - Ann Voskamp

Mary Beth