There was a woman who awakened yesterday morning to the light of a punishing sun. The sun said Have you really slept, woman? You are still the tired wife and mother you were when you went to sleep! The rest of the world is up... and the dishes from last night's dinner are still on your table.
Of course, the sun didn't really say that but the brightness seemed to her to mock. She had been desperate for refreshment and now she knew that today would be just like the previous one. It was as if she hadn't even slept. It was as if she could never rise. She quickly said her Morning Offering before she lost her nerve and crawled out of bed. Please Jesus, let me be the first one up today.
But she was not. And she chose to force smile for the beautiful little one sitting on the hallway floor playing with her doll. Good morning, Sweetie. She spoke love through her fog and silently begged the child not to ask about breakfast. But children get hungry and the question always comes. Hi Mommy...What's for breakfast?
Oh, come, Lord Jesus... I don't even know. I don't even know.
The middles started to stir around the house and she force smiled with all her heart and will. And then the teens appeared and the smile faded just slightly. Don't break me today, my people. Please. Please. I don't even know what's for breakfast.
She continued to choose forward movement and love but the pain of each step began to weigh until her feet felt like concrete and her heart courage started to falter. I am pretending to love. No, you are choosing to love. And her spirit wrestled with itself as her hands worked. To listen, to console, to teach, to inspire, to discipline, to explain, to defend, to build.
Who am I? Who am I? she asked in the quiet battleground of her mind. Because it seemed as if she must not be meant for this work, this love... so much larger than her capacity. Who am I today? Am I really the same person I was last week? The woman who had her planner in order and a fiery and inspiring battle plan for life? It cannot be. He did not choose well. Lord, You did not choose well. She shook her head slightly as she lectured the God of the universe.
The day wore on and she approached the evening bearing the battle scars of the day. She stepped out of bed without armor that morning - vulnerable from the start. Because she had no armor... only the tattered rags of her heart wrapped around her aging body. And the winds and attacks, they buffeted her. And she clung to the bare skeleton of faith and love...
One, two, three, four... counting her steps on the stairs to maintain focus. It's your hormones. It's your failure. It's your stupidity. It's a mistake. You are a mistake. And the lies of the world received her permission to come pouring into her very soul. They hadn't been allowed in since her teen years but she barely had the strength to hold the door any longer. They laughed with glee over the tears that fell and she ran to her room. To the bathroom. To the basement. To the car. Wherever moms like this run when the need to run but love too well to run away.
She turned on the computer and logged into Facebook. Pinterest. Instagram. Twitter. Feedly. Email. She liked a status and then started to comment on another. It was an article about the beauty of motherhood and she loved it and knew it and claimed it. But the comment wouldn't leave her fingers. Not me. That's not me. It's for someone else. Someone worthy. She listlessly clicked around her friends' timelines and boards and made a few comments. Connecting. I'm connecting, she thought. But the internet is fast - so fast - and nobody really saw her.
She pinned a recipe that she knew she would never make and bookmarked a charity she knew she couldn't afford to give to. She jotted something down on her to-do list and fuzzed up her eyes so she couldn't see the long line of failures preceding it. While the ink was still wet, she started to cry. And her tears fell in a silent torrent as the world moved around her. I am a failure. I am invisible.
When she called her husband, he was in a meeting but it felt good just to know he would see her number. See me. Please see me. He returned her call and she felt her last strength give way into his steady spirit and her voice trembled with emotion as she talked about the plumbing and the diapers. When she hung up the phone, she felt the weight of her responsibility return, as if someone handed her the whole world. She cried again and reluctantly returned to the kitchen for lunch. She skipped the rosary she had planned and her weak little prayers for courage felt like a compromise. Her steps got slower and heavier...
Evening came and she felt a dread begin to grow in the pit of her stomach. The time for sleep is coming. Her eyes swept the disaster around her and she smiled a real smile at the children playing a game at the table and the true joy in their laughter. Balm for my soul! But the night is coming. And I will rise just as I sleep. Invisible. Failure. A broken soul that no one can see.
I am posting today just for this woman. I don't know you... but I know you. I don't see you... but I see you. I see you. I see your Christ-breathed soul that loves and suffers for love. That has given everything for the only thing - the beautiful and the good - and has somehow forgotten to nurture and acknowledge it's own beauty. I see you.
I can't promise you a sun that doesn't mock in the morning or a heart that isn't heavy as it lays down to rest. I can't promise that your feet will walk unfettered or that your cross will ever be lighter. But I want you to know that I see the way you love and I see something that you can't. I see heroic action. I see martyrdom in the heart that is willing to be wounded for love. I see the "genius" of your feminine nature that says It is my will to lay down my life for you.
And... I see hope that you do not today. It is not the will of God that you remain defeated and entrenched in despair. It is His will that you struggle... and RISE. He is greater than your weakness. He is greater than your sorrow. He is greater than your hormonal imbalances and your post partum depression and your messy house and your struggles.
You are not defined by your sadness but by His greatness. Today is a good day to give yourself permission to feel the burden... and then to commit it to Christ. One small step at a time, beloved Sister in Christ. Put the baby in the playpen for just one minute and run to your room. Kneel down on the floor, raise your hands to the heavens and pray: IT IS ALL YOURS, JESUS. I GIVE ALL. And mean it with your whole heart.
And He... He will see you. He always sees you. He created you. And when the sun rises tomorrow, it rises for you. The struggle itself is never the failure. You are not a failure. Stay faithful, pretty mama... and let your mighty God tend to the garden of your soul and bless you with joy.