I recently started rating my mornings on a scale of not so rough to I need to crawl back in bed and hide all day rough. Without a doubt, this morning felt like a crawl back in bed day.
Only minutes after making our way downstairs, my toddler and preschooler put on quite a show. A performance that included crying, fussing, and arguing over toys. Before the clock could read 7:30 a.m., my emotional strength and energy for the day felt drained. Completely. And I still had to face lunch, dinner, and multiple snack times before retreating back to bed could become a reality.
As my husband left for work, I yelled, "Hey, it’s take your daughter to work day." Somehow I hoped that he’d buy into my so-called reminder, believing he’d forgotten to mark the ever important event on his calendar. But, even that early in the morning, he recognized my tall tale for what it was. To my disappointment, but not surprise, he left without any little ones in tow. I found myself alone with two kids who’d obviously woken up on the wrong side of their toddler bed and crib.
It’s on mornings like this that I’m reminded of my weakness. I’m reminded of my utter need to rely on God for strength. The apostle Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, when he writes:
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
While a rough morning in the life of this stay-at-home mom doesn’t ever feel like "the sentence of death," it does at times make me feel "utterly burdened beyond [my] strength." After all, there’s only one of me and two of them. Two little people who normally both want something from me at the same time. And normally that "same time" is when I finally get a chance to run to the bathroom, am in the middle of cooking a meal, or when I decide to start exercising. Their timing is truly remarkable.
So often I feel tired and ineffective in my daily life. Whether it’s as a mother, a wife, or a friend. But I’m encouraged by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1. When affliction caused him to feel burdened beyond his strength, it resulted in reliance on God and not himself. The Lord used that affliction to draw Paul to a place of utter dependence on Him and Him alone. Which means that these "minor afflictions" of fussiness and screaming because orange juice was poured in the wrong cup, serve as an opportunity for me to grow in my dependence on God.
Unfortunately, looking to 2 Corinthians for encouragement and actually asking the Lord to strengthen me are two different things.
You see, I don’t always seize the moment. I don’t always respond how I should when I face mornings such as today. Sure, I may be reminded of my weakness and need for God’s strength, but I often stop there. I fail to actually run to Him. I stop with the realization of my need for Him and never actually ask for strength.
With merely an awareness of my need and no action as a result, I easily find myself walking in frustration and impatience. I go through my day feeling weary and discouraged. I miss an opportunity to grow to a place of utter dependence on God. Fortunately, God doesn’t hold these missed opportunities against me. He continues to offer me His strength.
In Colossians 1:9-12, Paul told the Colossians that he prayed that they
may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
It’s my prayer that each time I face a crazy morning like today that I won’t merely realize my need for the Lord, but that I will also run to Him. That I will throw my burdens at His feet, asking Him to strengthen me and to help me "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work."
I want to live each day feeling encouraged in the midst of struggle. For it’s these growing pains of life that help me grow in godliness. They teach me more deeply what it means to walk in God’s strength and not my own.