Confessions of a North American Mom….where does my peace come from?
Where does my peace come from? I’m in a season of life where I hear God promise me peace and joy. It sounds counter intuitive given that I have a 5 month old baby and 4 kids 6 and under. Just the number of socks I have to find pairs for is overwhelming. I could spend all day cleaning dishes and feeding people. I have found that having a clean and organized house makes me feel peace inside. It is some sort of calm in the midst of the relational chaos and the incredible amount of energy my kids exude through out the day.
BUT…having a clean house all the time feels nearly impossible. So recently I lowered my expectations to just a clean kitchen/dining area. The trick with even this is I have a 2 and 1/2 year old son who is in the “self do it” phase of life. As I type this he is sitting at the table next to me “eating” a pumpkin muffin–which means he is exploring what happens when he smooshes it, sticks his finger in it and when he shoves the whole thing in his mouth at once. He’s the only child I’ve found climbing the pantry shelves to reach the cookies hidden on the top shelf. Needless to say I could spend ALL day cleaning up after him and trying to keep him occupied enough to maintain some sort of order to our house.
I recently met a woman who moved here from South Africa 18 months ago. She and her husband and 4 kids moved here to go to the ministry school at Bethel church. A year after arriving (and a year after a vasectomy) they discovered they were pregnant with their fifth child. I asked her how she was doing, pregnant with 4 kids 6 and under! “Jesus’ grace is sufficient and enough to carry me through.” She said she was in tears a few days ago in the closet praying to Jesus, overwhelmed and exhausted. She spent 30 minutes worshiping Jesus and felt his peace, joy and energy rush through her body. “He gives me what I need.”
I’ve heard this my whole life–when we are weak he is strong. But still I am trying to find peace in my circumstances, my mopped floors and clean counters. It makes such a difference to have peace come from Jesus because that can last longer than my floors looking clean (5 minutes) and can occur in any situation even one in which all four kids decide to start crying about something. Instead of controlling chaos in order to find peace, I can actually have peace in the midst of the chaos. I can do a puzzle on the floor with Anna even if the dishes aren’t finished. I can wrestle with the kids and then fold the laundry. I actually spend time enjoying my kids instead of yelling at them because they are messing with my peace (a clean house!). I know it sounds dumb and so simple but it can radically change my day, and my kids day when I allow my hope and peace to be in Jesus rather than in cleanliness and control. Not to say that we don’t find peace in our circumstances–we do, but how much more when I allow Holy Spirit to come into my circumstances and bring a taste of heaven-peace and joy! Relationships all of a sudden become more important than my to do list! My peace comes from heaven. But how?
I recently heard Jesus say that my kids need my presence more than anything else, just like I need His Presence. That my presence will bring peace and joy to them. Being present to them requires some internal stillness so I can listen and even absorb the noise/chaos they are experiencing. For example Eli just crushed Anna’s princess crown and Anna responded by throwing a book at him which knocked Sam’s water over on the picture he had been drawing causing him to start to scream and wake up Joy from her almost asleep state in my arms…where does my peace come from? Not from the order or cleanliness of the house, or the well behaved children I have, but it is at that moment I can choose to scream–“to your rooms all of you” (something not uncommon) or laugh internally at the craziness of the situation and help my kids learn how to restore trust, clean up messes and tend to each others hearts. My polished stainless steel fridge will not help me with the latter. So to God I turn from where my peace comes from.