Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Presence in Absence

We pull up to the soccer field approximately twenty-seven minutes late. Jayci wears a rumpled t-shirt in Carolina blue, because her official jersey has officially vanished into the depths of either our minivan or perhaps the laundry pile. I knock my fresh cup of coffee, and then try to catch it, resulting in a sprinkling of coffee all over my purse and shoes and even the book my friend Hannah sent me: Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood. It lays stained and drying on my dash, and I cant help but smile at the irony or whatever-you-call-it. The struggle is real: I explain to the other soccer moms with a shrug, shooing Jayci onto the field, and distracting Caden so he doesn’t follow. The day brims full and I am weary by its end. Actually, most days land at tired; I’m not sure if this is the result of a busy life or if it’s just what happens when you parent a two and five year old for all-of-the-hours.
Some days, I look in the mirror and feel certain the list of things I hate both begins and ends with myself. I will celebrate my thirtieth birthday this year, and as my birth-date approaches, the scale creeps upward in suspicious increments. After all, nothing has changed in my eating habits except perhaps a metabolism that also finds itself exhausted.

Here’s the real deep-down thing: I KNOW the truth, that the mirror mostly tells lies. I know, and even believe, that I am more than how I look, more than my appearance. I know, too, how motherhood matters; that even the most mundane moments can make the profoundest impact. The problem is not that I am unsure where to fall on the work-at-home, stay-at-home, work-outside-the-home spectrum. I don’t question whether it’s enough to just be a mom, but whether I am actually enough for the task. I don’t buy into the books or the blogs or media or what everything around me says I need to be or should be. And yet, I still have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not good enough, that perhaps I’m not quite cut out for this motherhood thing.

I am no longer my high-school-self, and perhaps I know healthier habits. But sometimes I feel bulimic again: stubbornly unwilling to be nourished by the very things God intends to sustain me. Words that bring peace and life slip in one ear and out the other; while off-handed comments burn deep in my soul, solid-proof that I can never measure up.

In my deepest, most quiet places, I stumble into the fear that perhaps I have somehow lost myself in this journey. That I do not, and cannot, know who I am or why I am here. I send Adam a link to this video and ask him to watch it, but it turns out I am not really sure what I want to be free to do and be and pursue. I hold onto snippets of myself, of my passions, my gifts, my burdens. And I try to piece them together into something meaningful, but I keep losing the thread and my children steal my needle and then I cannot find where I left off, or I’m missing pieces because the passion just up and vanished somehow. The void feels not full but silent and vastly empty. And so I sit, holding a piecemeal life that I cannot get to add up.

I realize this probably sounds far worse than I intend. Because all the uncertainty lingers beneath the surface of a life I enjoy, of children I love, of ministry I care deeply about. But I cannot help but wonder if the so-called-mommy-wars, if the depression, if the kids in our neighborhood joining gangs and getting pregnant in droves; perhaps in tracing their roots, we arrive at the same seed: a quiet underlying fear that maybe we are not enough.

Those who parent differently, or exercise more, or write more beautifully, threaten us mostly because of our own deep-seeded uncertainty. Because we see, perhaps, feeding children organic vegetables for every meal as mostly an attempt to point out the hot dogs we microwaved in desperation earlier. Her five a.m. run or prompt ten o’clock bedtime seem intended to point out the number of times I hit snooze every morning because I go to bed entirely too late.

But what if that, in fact, is not their intention? What if, instead, we looked at the world through the lens of everyone just doing our best to make sense of our lives in what can invariably be a dark world? For the mom who works full-time and the one who home-schools, the PTA president and the teenager raising her younger siblings; things are complex and mostly we are all too busy worried about navigating our own lives to care too much about how you are living yours. Sure, this might not ALWAYS be true, or even feasible; but certainly it will save us all a lot of headache and self-contempt if we can grasp the fact that we all stumble through the dark sometimes.

Because I’m learning in this season of absence, of questions, and of dark, that dark and light or faith and doubt don’t always have to oppose each other. That even an absence points to His presence. That insecurity and inabilities all draw me closer to the heart of a Father than envelopes and holds close, even in my very unawareness of His closeness.

11 comments:

  1. i seriously love you.
    because you are me.

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    1. Ummmm...I think we were commenting at EXACTLY the same time!!!
      Please see my comment. It involves you.

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    2. you guys know I love you right? triplets forever :-)

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  2. " I don’t question whether it’s enough to just be a mom, but whether I am actually enough for the task." SO GOOD. Lady, we ALL feel it. I have to believe we do! Or at least Lori and I do. :)

    We're triplets, us.

    Only I'm old enough to by your much-older sister, you wee babe. I'm okay with that. Really, I am.

    But maybe, just to be sure, we should plan a meet-up and put it to the test.

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    1. Tripets! :-) we should definitely test this theory asap though.

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  3. I agree with Lori. I think that is why you resonate with so many people. You are us. And so many of us just aren't brave enough or articulate enough to be able to put it into words so that we can feel less alone. So often I feel as though I am 'not enough'... but as I have gotten older, I am trying to be content with what I am and knowing that I am doing my best - not everybody else's best. Thank you for just being YOU.

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    1. You are always such an amazing encouragement :-) love ya!

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  4. Dang. I wish I could just hug you, and I'm not really a hugger. I have this fear all the time - that I'm not enough for this motherhood thing. Especially after hanging out with close friends that always use a gentle voice (how in the heck?) and scrolling through pics of Instagram moms and their "clean eating" toddlers (does that make me a dirty eater?!) But I love the lens that you ask us to look through. Praying for you now. :)

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    1. agreed (how in the heck and dirty eaters unite!) :-)

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  5. I need this this morning.....thanks

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    1. gosh girl, I need it every morning :-) remind myself, you know?

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