I’m holding my son in the colic hold and some drool is making its way down my arm. Below me, I hear the loud thumping bass of a happy pop song and the chatter of students filling the gym.
It’s 8 a.m. and the dog still needs to be let out, my husband is out, my left boob is hanging out of my open nursing tank, I’m bouncing because I have to pee but I can hear people in the hallway between my door and the bathroom and I’m unfit to be seen, I can’t find something to wear because my clothes are sprawling out of a suitcase on the floor of which only a few things fit, and on top of all this I have a scheduled client call that I need to be professional and have the baby back to a nap for looming in the near future. The clock is ticking– tick tock. I use a baby wipe on my face and armpits as I catch myself thinking, “hooker baths are for mothers too.”
I have been mulling over that thought. Yes, they are for mothers. They are for hikers, homeless, travelers, people who live in churches, and me. Humans. No disrespect meant by the term; I think the ol’ wet wipe down is better named a mom-bath. Or perhaps even better yet, a Jesus-bath.
Lately I’ve been catching myself in ridiculous moments related to church living and wishing a clever photographer was there to capture the scene: Chasing a roach around the room with a spray bottle of castile soap; waiting still and silently in the shower stall (after taking a shower in the men’s room because it’s the only shower with a private stall door you can latch) for whoever came in there to leave so I don’t embarrass them, sweating while wearing a baby who will only nap ON ME and awkwardly leaning over an industrial sink to do dishes, washing bottles and pump parts in the bathroom 10 times a day, my face when answering the inevitable early morning knock on our door that never comes when I’m lonely and always when I’m trying to overcome one of my biggest challenges in life: sleep.
I want to document some of these things partly because my lifestyle is weird, confusing or even interesting to others. But mostly because these are little things that make my moments, days and life rhythms are the heart of my story. They matter to me, and I’d like to think they do to God. And while I admittedly can sometimes (more often than not in the last year) complain in and about these moments they are actually opportunities to learn to thrive. These are holy moments. And in this season right now (and probably every season) these private little inconveniences, chores, tediousness, and burdens may actually be the holiest moments of my life.
I was convicted by something my pastor, Kate Murphy, said on Sunday: “May we be a place that asks, ‘God, what do you want us to do’ over ‘what do we like, prefer, feel most comfortable with.” It humbles me to reframe things that way. I don’t think it means we can’t make decisions to rest, or care for ourselves, or say no. But for me, the reframe addresses the posture of the HEART. In an argument, my husband recently said to me he was embarrassed by my attitude. I didn’t think it was very nice but I did keep thinking about it. Today, in my world, the question “God, what do you want me to do” most often means the attitude in which I engage the inevitable moments– these opportunities for holiness.
Oswald Chamber talks about the call of God for each of us individually being an “expression of God’s nature.” He reminds us that when we talk about the call of God we often forget the most important thing, the nature of Him who calls. I believe how I do things is just as important as what I do. I’ve always gotten from the red letters that the posture of the heart IS what this is all about. But I don’t always live like I believe that. I am convicted that I’ve let in some harshness and bitterness into both my how and what.
So my desire and commitment to myself and to my community are to 1) ask the question of what God would want me to do and remember cultivating his nature within me is always a part of the answer and 2) turn back to gratitude over and over; if not at the moment then as soon as I can. This gratitude practice is what I teach my clients and yet I need to continually teach myself. Gratitude can turn frustration, hopelessness or self-pity into something rich: holiness.