I sit in my bedroom, legs slung over the stiff side of the chair because I haven’t yet remembered to buy the footrest I need. The boys play downstairs for “rest time,” which is really more like “play in a different part of the house and leave mommy alone” time. The sound of one very obnoxious party favor kazoo blasts into my thoughts several times a minute, just when I think I can actually take a moment to pray for a little peace. But I am a pro, I can tune this out.
The key to prayer with preschoolers is shutting out the noise. At times this skill, perfected over the past five years, spills into other areas of life, uninvited. A talent that provides me with a moment here and there to read a newspaper article, compose a blog post, or say a prayer has also resulted in burned baked goods, unanswered toddler requests, and quite often a frustrated husband who can’t understand why I didn’t hear him say he needed his softball shorts washed today. Tuning others out gives me a private sanctuary to revel in a moment alone, but also causes its own set of new problems. And of course there are days when it just doesn’t work.
So today in my bedroom I try to pray for some peace and patience. I pray with my eyes open so that I don’t fall asleep. But today is one of those utterly cursed days when peace will not happen. “Mommy! knock knock knock Mommy! knock knock knock Mommy! What color in the rainbow comes after orange?” Doesn’t this child know that I’m trying to get a break in here? I’m trying to have a conversation with the creator of the universe and he’s interrupting to ask me that? Then I manage to hear the whisper that I’ve been seeking these past few minutes: “He’s my child too, just as you are.” Not to mention the ironic fact that the creator of the universe I’m so desperately trying to connect with is also the one who created the rainbows being drawn repeatedly downstairs, hopefully not on the walls. God, why are your answers so annoyingly right all the time? Just when I’m ready for a pity party you want me to feel some compassion and patience? Thank goodness He provides the patience at that moment, because I certainly used mine up on an errand at Target earlier today.
How is it that my life sometimes comes to the point where an interruption in my afternoon rest time makes me fall to pieces or yell at the little boy I love just for knocking repeatedly on my bedroom door or for losing his pants once again so that he’s now wearing only a t-shirt, flip-flops, and construction goggles? How do I connect with God’s gift of peace and life when I’m just trying to get the dishes done and the craft beads up off the floor before I step on another one?
I’m reading two books right now that bring me encouragement that communing with God is possible even when chaos reigns. Keri Wyatt Kent’s God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos is one I’ve read before but seems to need to be read again. I’m also reading Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, which is a series of letters and conversations from a monk who manages to find God in everything he does.
Some days I’m better at finding God than others. I have experienced many days when I feel an overwhelming thankfulness and joy for the life God has given me. I have risen above the crumbs on the floor and the hot wheels underfoot, even smiled at the sticky floor where the juice was spilled and not quite fully cleaned up. I have found the peace that passes understanding. But not today. Today I need a nap, a coffee, a new magazine, and an hour of uninterrupted peace and quiet. Do you think I will find it? You mothers know that the answer is no. But maybe I can manage to read another chapter of inspiration while the boys bob through their swim lessons tonight. And I know God will meet me there at the pool amidst the screaming children. Just as he meets me right now as I type these words. He designed me and knows how I tick. Thank goodness for that.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 1 Cor. 4:8,9,16,17.