Guest Post from Mindy Evans
Leaving the house is not a simple task any more. It hasn’t been for quite awhile. I watch my parents leave the house. My dad gets his keys. My mom gets her purse. They put their shoes on. And they leave. It seems so, I don’t know, simple. When we leave the house there is so much involved, it’s almost as if I should hire an events coordinator.
We begin by determining when we need to leave. Even this is tricky. For example, if we have to be somewhere at 6:30, and it takes 20 minutes to get there, normal people can leave at 6:10, or 6:00 if they’d like to be a bit early. In order for us to leave at 6:10, we have to leave at 5:55. I need to calculate when we need to leave in order to leave when we need to leave. Are you confused yet? Because you should be.
After determining the time to leave, I call all the kids down from the family room. This is when things really start to get unstable. Little kids run to our cubby hole area. You know, the area we had specially made so that the coats and shoes and backpacks of each kid would have their own special space and the area would remain neat and organized. (Feel free to stop now with me in my story so that we can all laugh together. Let us find the amusement in these unfulfilled dreams parents sometimes have when we get really good ideas for managing our family but forget to factor in that the people we are managing still use their shirts as napkins, eat food off the floor, and wear the same underwear at camp all week.)
Things are suddenly loud and chaotic. Kids can’t find shoes. Kids that can find shoes are sitting on the shoes of the kids who can’t find their shoes. Other kids say they found their shoes but upon further examination, they have on sandals and its 20 degrees outside or they have on boots and 90. I stop to call for the teenagers. They yell, “Coming!” Someone is tattling and someone is crying. I notice the TV and the lights are still on upstairs. So, I send up a kid to turn them off. I help tie shoes and find shoes and reassign weather appropriate shoes. The baby is crawling now and tries to make a break for the door every time someone leaves to go out to the van. He must be closely monitored. As all the littler kids head out the door, I call for the teenagers. They say, “Coming!” (Let’s all stop to laugh together again. We know they probably are not, in fact, “coming.”)
As we actually head out the door, the baby spits up on my shirt and someone says, “Sullivan pooped!” Back in we go. My shirt is salvageable with a wet cloth and the diaper gets changed. I call for the teenagers. They say, “Coming!” (It’s not funny anymore.) When I get back out to the van, the kids are getting in, but someone has tripped and needs a band aid. Back in I go. I come back out, and we all load in. The teenagers have surfaced and are getting in the van. Time for a head count. We’re missing one. Channing (5). She is the one I sent upstairs to turn off the lights and the TV. Back in I go. She’s sitting quietly on the floor watching the TV she was supposed to be turning off. I just have to smile. And part of me really just wants to join her. I’ve just been smacked in the heart with that feeling of how blessed I really am.
But I wasn’t always this way. Years ago, as a younger mom, the word “smack” would have shown up in my story in a much different way.
When I had my fifth baby, it was a difficult time. He was a very needy little fella and I was beginning to question my abilities as a parent to many children. This is not to say that I didn’t have moments at four, or three, or two, or even one, when I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into. But, when we had our fifth, it was the beginning of a big decision for my husband and I to have a large family. I was standing in the kitchen, trying to console the inconsolable eight week old and praying, “I just don‘t think I can do this. Please, please give me more patience and strength to deal with all this.” I was overwhelmed and tired and questioning whether God really knew what He was doing when He spoke to my heart and then to my husband’s heart about growing our family. And then, I sat back and waited for God to reach down out of the sky and bop me on the head with his magic Strength and Patience Wand. And, so I waited. And waited. But, it didn’t exactly happen that way.
God spoke to my heart over the next few weeks as I continued to whine and groan. He reminded me that He has already given me all I need to do all the things He has called me to do. I’ve heard the fruit of the spirit described in a way such that you are given a seed, or an amount, as soon as you are saved. After that, you must cultivate it to get it to grow. Good fruit doesn’t just pop up on a tree or vine the day after it’s planted. I needed to start accessing and taking care of what I was already given before He would give me more.
I needed to start behaving like the parent God already saw me to be.
In the parable of the talents, the man gave his servants a certain amount. They had to show themselves worthy of that amount before he gave them more. But, this is my favorite part. In Matthew 25: 15, it says that the master gave each one, “according to his own ability.” POW! Guess what. I am able. The almighty God of the entire universe already believes I am able, and He has given to me accordingly.
Now, please understand, no part of me believes I am able on my own. Every ounce of ability that I have to do anything at all comes from Him, and I am in constant need of His resources. I just need do my part. I must partner with Him to get anything worthwhile done. Philippians 2:13 reminds me of this. It is God who works in me.
So, while I still have my moments of feeling overwhelmed and tired and unworthy and let’s face it, slightly unhinged, I wasn’t always able to smile and have peace in the middle of chaos. I’ve grown tremendously. The bop on the head never came. I believe God can bop you on the head. (There are times I wish He would bop people on the head. But not necessarily in a holy way. And for this, I ask forgiveness.) But, He usually doesn’t work that way. Spiritual matters take time, and along the road mistakes are made. Returning to the parable of the talents, we should consider the possibility that the servants who came back to their master with a return, may also have messed up and been discouraged along the way. Maybe the one with five took a chance with three, lost them, but was wise with the last two and ended up with ten. Maybe he learned lessons and prayed to be a good steward and it all worked out in the end. Who knows. But, I’d sure like to think it.
Luke 12:48 says that because I’ve been given much, much is required of me. I think we can agree, if you’ve been given many kids, you’ve been given much. But, listen good to me when I say, if you’ve been given just one, one little image bearer, one little precious gift, you, too, have been given much. Much is required, but partnered with Him, I promise, you are able.