The plan for the day improved greatly with one phone call Jeff made this morning. He needed to pick up some building materials from a friend, a friend who happens to have three giant trampolines lined up in a row in his backyard. The first one is directly under his roof.
You have no idea how fun it is to have three trampolines lined up in a row just inches from the corner of a roof unless you’ve tried it, or unless you’re under the age of ten and can imagine it.
“I’ll tell ya what,” Gary said when Jeff asked if he could drop by. “You can come on over as long as you bring the family and stay for some lemonade.”
It was settled.
The only trouble was, I’ve been fighting some fierce kid-germs, and they’re still “winning me.” I thought about this as Jeff announced the plan to the kids.
“Yahoo!” they screamed. “We can jump on the trampolines!”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to go,” I said through my stuffy nose. “I’ll probably have to stay home.”
“Even better!” one of the children shouted gleefully.
The words sliced through the air and made a direct hit.
Even better if you don’t come.
Even better without you.
It was said carelessly because even very small children can toss heavy words about as if they weigh nothing at all, as if they mean nothing at all.
But they meant something to me, and I felt myself bleeding out right there in the middle of the kitchen because those words cut deep.
Those words were not the words of my child; they are the words of my Enemy.
They are dark words, and deep like the depths of the ocean. When all the house is asleep and the moon brings in a tide of self-doubt, I feel myself getting sucked into the currents and drowning into that ocean. It tells me that I am not enough, that I have messed it up, that I am not cut out for this. It gurgles up in me and I hear the rush of it in my ears: they all would be better off without me.
My child does not know that I have heard these words before, and often, in my own heart and my own mind. He does not know how they leave me clinging to the rocks and chanting to myself, “It is not true. It is not true.”
This child does not know how it cuts me to hear in broad daylight the words I fight in the dark.
Those words hang in the air between us and for an awful moment, I am swept out to sea by a sudden wave and I cannot breathe. It is true. All my failings, all my shortcomings, all my inadequacies: every single one of them is true. They would all be better off with someone else.
They are not true, and they are not the words of my child. They are the words of my Enemy. I come up for air, grab hold of a bit of craggy rock, and see it for what it is. How dare my Enemy use my child’s lips to utter his lies! How dare he tread on that holy ground.
Because this calling is not my own. I did not bear these children out of my own desire, nor was I given them out of my own goodness or ability. A thousand women with empty arms deserved this more. I know it. I think of Mother’s Day, looming large on my calendar, and I weep for them because I feel so undeserving of the gift they desire. Why me? Why not them?
It is a whirlpool that easily sucks me in. I can drown in my inadequacies and I can grieve the probability that another mother could do it better, but it doesn’t erase the fact that God gave me a name I did not earn.
He called me mother.
It is a grace-calling. And grace-callings are the hardest ones to answer, I find, because they never-ever-never-ever fit right.
Because if it fit right, it wouldn’t be grace.
If it fit right, it wouldn’t leave me stumbling and tripping over my own mantle like some kind of misfit, or wrestling with doubts and uncertainties like a kid who can’t figure out how to put on her own dress.
If it fit right, I wouldn’t have to trust that God knew best, despite how I perform…
…despite what my kids think of me…
…despite the fact that I am impatient…
…and also selfish.
Despite the fact that I can’t get my arms in my own sleeves–despite all of it.
I was not called to be a mother because I was going to be good at it.
I was called to be a mother because God could make something good out of it, despite me.
I am wet and dripping, half-drowned and inglorious, yet God bends to whisper in my ear,
“It’s better with you here.”
I struggle to believe it.
It is better with you here because I AM the One who called you.
That is the truth I need to hear, and often, a truth that speaks in a whisper but shouts above the waves.
It is better with you here.
100 Beautiful Days of Motherhood: 41