*100 Beautiful Days of Motherhood: 33
Two. That’s the number of times this week I set the tea kettle on to boil and walked away, only to return some time later to find it bone dry and smoking. The second time, the handle, which was made to be impervious to absentmindedness, melted off in slow agony and dropped onto the burner.
The children smelled the burning plastic and asked if I was making dinner.
I was not.
I stared at my tea kettle. The heat had caused the metal to swell abnormally. It was as fat as a little piggy and much more likely to explode. Black smoke drifted lazily up from the tar-like goo on the burner.
This was concerning to me, not just because of the fact that I very nearly gave my children an unplanned lesson on shrapnel, but because it said something about me that wasn’t good. A woman who burns her kettle dry two times in five days has issues.
My issue is this: I have trouble resting. I have so much trouble resting, I can’t even slow down long enough to brew a cup of “Quite Moments” tea. I run around like the house is on fire (which, ironically, was very nearly a reality) because I feel like I have to work my way to a place of rest.
But the work is never done and rest is always elusive because I live at work.
My “office” is strewn with socks and dirty dishes and way more Thomas the Tank Engine tracks than is professional. And while my coworker is cute and my boss is great, the subordinates tend to run around half naked and spill milk. Everywhere I turn, I see reminders of the things I have yet to do, have not done well, or have not done at all.
Sometimes, I just want to put on a pair of heels and commute. Preferably to Hawaii. Perhaps then I could find a way to be done at the end of the day.
But of course, being done is not the point and work is not the problem. The problem is not the dishes in the sink or the floor that needs mopped. The problem is I lack the faith to rest the way God commands. I lack the faith to be still, to be quiet, and to pursue the things that are more important than dusting the furniture.
I lack the faith to trust that my identity in Him is secure, even if my work is not done.
There will always be work. But here in the middle of the mess, I am commanded to rest. Rest, true rest, is what I need. Not like when I go to bed and dream about cleaning my kitchen. Not like when I finally get all the rooms straightened up on the same day and I collapse into the couch, exhausted. Not like when I finally check everything off the to-do list and feel like I’ve earned it.
True rest is a grace. It sees the work left to do and nourishes me anyway. It sees that I am not yet done and rewards me with strength for the course. It resets the priorities that have gotten scrambled and brings my focus up from the temporal to the eternal.
I forget that sometimes, and I fight against it. I act like God is punishing me, somehow, by calling me to a place of rest. I kind of think that if He wants me to rest, He should find a way to clean my kitchen first. But He doesn’t do that. He leaves the mess, and asks me to leave it too.
So I put the kettle on, but I struggle with the fear that if I take some time off, my entire world is going to descend deeper into chaos and disorder. Who is going to do the dishes while I sip my tea, God? I sneak off and try to put away some laundry while I wait for the water to boil and pretty soon, I find myself face-to-face with a charbroiled kettle.
The truth is, I can never work my way to rest because rest is an act of faith. It requires me to act on the promise of God that one day, the meaningless repetition of earthly work will end. All that is lacking in me will be filled up, and all that is undone will be completed. I will no longer live at work.
I will live at rest.
So tonight, I am putting the kettle on. It’s a little rusty now and I can’t quite pry the lid off because the knob burned off. I am not done with my work. I guess that’s why it’s the perfect time to act on the belief that even in my imperfection, God’s promises are true. Not being done is the best reason to practice being at rest.