I wrote the following several months ago, as part of my self-counseling project for the class I took last fall. Mornings generally look different these days, but this week I am needing to re-preach these truths to myself. Thought maybe a few of you might benefit from the overhearing...
After rising early and having quiet time, I have been on the computer for a while before my two-year-old wakes up. When I hear him, I bring him downstairs, change his diaper. Eager to play, he doesn’t care about eating. So instead of fixing breakfast immediately and starting the day’s tasks, I return to the computer. I don’t feel like making eggs and oatmeal, sitting at the table for what seems like an eternity while Elijah eats. I only want to do what’s easy, pleasant, convenient―and breakfast with a toddler is none of these.
No matter how many earnest pep talks I hear, I don’t really believe the everyday tasks of a mother/homemaker are significant; to be honest, I’m bored with them. Or in another sense, I’m intimidated by them―I’m afraid of not doing them well. The computer was more interesting, and didn’t require much of me.
When I finally start breakfast, Elijah suddenly realizes he’s hungry. He whines impatiently, and I snap at him. I haven’t connected with him at all except in irritation; instead, I’ve communicated that other things are more important than serving and loving him. He’s oblivious at two, but he’ll sense this keenly at four, six, ten.
The time I spent at the computer is time I no longer have to complete today’s necessary tasks. Later this afternoon or evening, I’ll feel discouraged, frazzled, guilty or stressed because I don’t have time to finish my work. Inevitably, those emotions will tempt me to escape again.
By deeming my job uninteresting and tiresome, I’ve ignored the truth that “God is so great that all things give Him glory―if you mean that they should” (St. Ignatius Loyola). I’ve forgotten that somehow, even if I don’t understand the dynamic, God receives my oatmeal-fixing and face-wiping and “eat two bites of egg and then you can have another grape” negotiating as spiritual acts of worship (Romans 12:1).
These monotonous, unglamorous breakfasts are the lines God determined for my life. He arranged my circumstances, my portion, my lot (Psalm 16:5-6). He prepared in advance good works for me to do―in this time, in this place (Ephesians 2:10). So the ordinary tasks I face today are the ones God laid out for me. He calls them good, and He ordains that I walk in them.
Father, forgive my unbelief. You need nothing, and yet You accept the smallest acts of duty as acts of worship, if only they are infused with love. I have refused to offer the small, pretending instead that greater things would be more valuable―deluded in thinking even the grandest thing I did would be more than a speck of dust in Your hands. Teach me to lay down my pretensions of “something greater” and love in this way, in these moments, in the good works You carefully laid out not for someone else to do, but for me to do. Teach me to love over eggs and oatmeal.
When I finally get up from the computer, I can choose to replace guilt and shame with repentance and grace. As I make breakfast, I can ask God to nourish my soul with the truth of the gospel as I nourish Elijah’s little body with protein and fiber. By His grace, I will return impatient whining with gentle words, even an apology―no matter if it is not yet understood; I am laying down paths that will be easier to walk later for having been forged today. And tomorrow, I will choose breakfast instead of blogs. I will choose the portion and cup that have been chosen for me, the good works God has prepared for me to do.
I can’t see beauty when I’m escaping, hiding. The lot doesn’t look grand and glorious when I’m staring at the fence, contemplating how to climb over and get out. But when I turn around and believe what God says about this portion, these boundary lines, His perspective can become my own. I can call my inheritance beautiful.
When I serve my son gladly, even in mundane and frustrating tasks―when I set eggs and oatmeal before him each morning promptly, with no yelling―he will feel secure and loved. As he grows, he will see his mama serving a God who is good, whose purposes are loving and wise. He will learn that whatever our portion looks like, it is good because it is from the sovereign Lord, and because He is in it―He is my portion.