Losing it! Finding Joy in Life’s Messes
Julia Veach | Zoe Church | Los Angeles, CA
Life isn’t perfect. Often it hands you lemons that are bruised and rotten and even if you tried, you couldn’t make them into lemonade. That’s where God comes in. With him by our side, we can have joy even in the midst of our pain and messes. With him, we can laugh at those ugly lemons.
When James said “Consider it pure joy my brothers and SISTERS whenever you face trials of many kinds,” I’m pretty sure at the top of his mind was the persecution of Christians. But he did say “many kinds.” So, I’d like to propose that he was also talking about the trials and tribulations a mom goes through as she tries to get her kids out the door on a Sunday morning. I’m slowly learning to consider this “pure joy.”
You hear this often, but you don’t fully appreciate your mother until you become one. When I was in high school, my ignorant adolescent brain thought that the sole reason God put Susan MacGregor on this earth was to make my life miserable (one of those character-building experiments he likes to do). Now that I have my own small tribe, I see her for who she really is– the hardest working person I know. Oh Sweet Sue, how will I ever make up for years 12-18?
Not only did she raise four very emotional and strong-willed girls, but she also sewed homemade matching outfits for those girls, woke up in time to make a batch of warm homemade bread, gardened, had farm animals, worked as a teacher, taught herself the harp, took ballet “for fun” and was a pastor’s wife who had to get us to church not just on time, but early. That, my friend, is probably the greatest of her accomplishments. Sunday morning is not for the weak.
My morning routine as Mom looks a little different. I typically reheat pizza from the night before for breakfast. You know.. the full gluten kind. This is just one of many shortcuts I’ve created to get us to our ultimate goal–getting out the door.
But even with all of these shortcuts, it still takes me a full three hours from wake up to driving off. A typical Sunday morning looks something like this for me:
6:00 AM – Wake up to Winston standing at the end of our bed like a Child of the Corn. Close eyes and pretend like this isn’t happening to me. Maybe if I close my eyes he won’t know I’m there?
6:15 AM – Decide to rip sleeping Clive off of me. Wonder why I don’t sleep train like all the other “on-it” moms? (have moment of mom comparison)
6:20 AM – Realize that “sleep training” becomes less of a priority with each kid.
6:35 AM – Winston’s food specifications and demands begin. I decide closing eyes trick is not an actual thing.
6:45 AM – Get Winston a snack and a show (my kids have screen time…my mom comparison starts turning into mom failure feelings) Pull it together. Get perspective. Am about to have warm-fuzzy parent moment, but Mav starts screaming.
7:00 AM – Get Mav from bed. Pray he didn’t pee the bed.
7:05 AM – Everyone stops for coffee.
7:10 AM – I realize nothing stops for coffee, but I go make coffee while everyone screams anyways. Because coffee.
7:15 AM – Reheated pizza for Winston while I drink my coffee and ignore Mav.
7:20 AM – Make Georgia’s food for the day. One mix will last me the whole day. Pour mix into bag for first feeding. Pack cooler with the remaining contents for feedings throughout the day.
7:30 AM – Sit Georgia up and hook up the food bag to the G-Tube (her feed lasts an hour).
7:35 AM – Get Mav into shirt. Start putting pants on, but he’s not into it and runs around the house with his pants off, laughing hysterically.
7:40 AM – Contemplate how great of a life Mav has and wish that I too could run around with my pants off.
7:45 AM – Helping hands arrive to help me load up. THANKFUL FOR ENNEAGRAM TYPE 2s!!
7:52 AM – Realize we aren’t ready to load up. Change Clive’s diaper and work on his clothes while Mav and now Winston are entertained with pantsless dance. Should I be worried? I decide I shouldn’t.
7:55 AM – Remember coffee. Pause to take a drink. It’s cold, but I down it.
8:00 AM – Remember that I also have to wear something. Give myself a “Splash Bath.” Throw on something to wear.
8:05 AM – Prepare Georgia’s medication. Crush and cut pills. Dilute them in water and prepare syringes. Feel a little bit like Walt and Jessie.
8:10 AM – More contemplation. This time I’m imagining escaping all of this and pursuing a life of crime.
8:12 AM – Decide that I love Jesus too much.
8:14 AM – Get pants on (all of us) and start loading everyone into the car.
8:20 AM – Strap Mav and Clive in. Winston can thankfully buckle himself. Pause for thankfulness!
8:30 AM – Start giving Georgia her meds. Make sure she has time to digest. If I transport her too early, there will be vomit. Wrap a towel around Georgia in case of vomit and strap her into her car seat.
8:35 AM – And, we’re off to church.
This schedule assumes that it’s a good Sunday, when no major catastrophe is thrown my way and everyone makes it out of the house alive, clean, and fed. Sadly, this schedule is a rarity. It seems that something is always working against me on my trip out the door. Let me tell you about a day where this was definitely the reality. On this particular Sunday, I was facing one of those “trials” James spoke of.
It was 8:15 am and everyone was loaded into the car. Georgia. Towel. Check. Medication. Check. Cooler for feedings. Check. Winston. Pants. Check. We were ready. We were early, even!
We are arrive at the El Rey Theatre in the heart of West Hollywood. It’s beautiful, but it lies on a busy street. Outside is a frequented bus stop, filled with a diverse crowd who walks, runs, bird- scooters, or even sleeps near by. I am strutting down Wilshire Blvd confidently! Funny how our confidence can flee as quick as our kids. In a quick moment Maverick decides to run off. His name does mean “independent” I guess.
The frantic search begins.. I’m supposed to be loving on people, encouraging people, praying for people, and I’m starting an amber alert. As all eyes are on me.. I melt. My confidence is gone. The emotional short comings begin to labor inside of me.
And then from a distance we see that cute blonde curly haired independent boy with what I hoped and prayed was not in his hand. He had made his way into the lobby with a used CIGARETTE!
The old version of myself would probably have completely broken down somewhere between searching and smiling. And in the heat of the moment, those Julia’s were still in there somewhere, ready to snap. I was especially ready to snap when I discovered that in the midst of the chaos, we had forgotten that I need to be on the stage in a few minutes.
Despite the appearance of a smoking pastor’s kid, it was on the ride home from church that God did the miraculous. I was rehearsing the story back to Chad in all its dramatic detail and to my surprise, I could barely get through it because I was laughing so hard. Maybe this was the pure joy that James was talking about!
The kind of attitude and perspective that looks at life’s imperfections and says, “At least I got a good story out of it” is one that has taken quite a long time for me to learn. Between disappointments in my younger years and Georgia’s diagnosis, God has been taking me on a journey and teaching me to turn pain into joy; and my purpose into perspective. I’m sure he’s doing the same with you.
My prayer for you today is that whatever you are facing God would do just that. He would give you purpose in your pain and joy in the middle of all that you’re walking through. Let’s laugh together!
Proverbs 31:25 – She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.