Sunday, June 14, 2015

For the Days When You Want to Quit, What's Needed Most

It's Sunday night, and the hotel down the road from us is still rocking.
The party started before we were home from morning church and went all afternoon, complete with several hours of traditional drumming.
I'd planned to sleep this afternoon since my two little people had me on non-sleeping shifts last night. The minute one would get settled and doze off, the other would wake up crying.
I'm guessing it was either the sinus drainage that's been plaguing different members of the family since the rains have started or the fact that our electricity has been off the last three nights in a row.
I crawled into my own bed at 5:45 a.m., exactly 15 minutes before I needed to get up this morning.
When I managed to drag myself out of bed at 7:45 a.m. to feed my ravenous children, I was hoping somebody, anybody would be sick enough to stay home from church.
Nope, that is not a good thing to hope for, but yes, that is how I felt.
We'd already had two phone calls from church members who weren't feeling well, letting us know they wouldn't be at church today.
Everything in me wanted to call in sick too.
Everything in me knew that would be a lie.
As we drove to church today, I wondered why I was even bothering.
The two littlest would be cranky and hard to deal with.
I'd probably spend most of time trying to keep them quiet.
What was the point?
As I sat in the back of the church, trying to balance both Lili and Mackay on my lap {because when they are sleepy both of my little ones want to be held by mama!}, I thought back to the first time I asked my husband that same question.
We were brand-new missionaries and brand-new parents.
I spent most of every church service outside trying to keep Carey from disturbing.
I had no idea how to raise a child, no aged women to ask, and no nursery.
I was exhausted, frustrated, irritated, embarrassed, and annoyed.
After one particularly trying Sunday evening, I looked at John and asked him why I needed to go to church just to spend all my time outside wrestling a toddler.
He gave me one word: faithfulness.
He told me that it was right to be faithful to church, it was the right example to our church members,
it was a precedent we were setting in our family, and it was teaching our daughter that being a part of a church was more important than how I felt.
Lest you judge my husband harshly, deep down I knew he was right.
At that moment, the last thing I wanted to be was faithful.
But that was exactly the time I needed to be so.

If I would write all that I'm called to do as a believer or a wife or a mama or a missionary, the list would fill the rest of this page.
Some of those things might look glamorous, romantic, exciting.
Those are the things that are often talked about, focused on, deemed "radical" or "passionate" or "real".
But what about those virtues that nobody seems to mention anymore?
Loving your neighbor as yourself.
Are these things not what's really missing in most of our lives today?

The farther I go on this journey, the more I can see the dire need for faithfulness.
Without faithfulness none of the rest matters.
If I'm "real" four days out of seven, what does that make me?
A fake.
If I'm kind and loving and respectful to my husband six hours of each day, does that make up for the 18 hours when I'm not?
If I'm patient and self-controlled with my children in the mornings, but lose my temper with them in the afternoons will they feel loved?
I don't think so.

Do we live in a world with many examples of faithfulness?
You know why?
Because it's hard.
In fact, it's impossible.
If my hope in being faithful through every difficult thing I face is coming from something good inside of me, I'll never make it.
But if I'm filled with faith by the One who has called me?
Then I can be faithful...
on the sunny days,
on the gray days,
when the music outside is blaring at 11 p.m.,
when I'm worn out from taking care of babies,
when the electricity's been sporadic,
if lots of people come to church,
if no kiddos show up for Sunday school,
to serve my family when they're feeling poorly,
to finish the last week of school,
to read one more book to the three-year-old,
to wipe up another puddle from the potty-trainer,
to take the few extra minutes to be friendly to a neighbor,
to make the time to read my Bible and pray after a long day,
to share once again God's goodness to me.

What I, and my children, and my husband, and my church, and my community, and my country need most is not another flash-in-the-pan, a dreamer who will someday do amazing things.
They need God's faithfulness lived out in me.
And as He fills me with faith to believe in His promises and act on them, that faithfulness will spill right out, soaking those around me with His wonderful gifts from above.


  1. Good lesson today, even for an old, tired, hot and sometimes sick, empty nester. "It is required of a servant-- to be found FAITHFUL". Not glamorous, outwardly talented but FAITHFUL. Your hubby got it right. Take care of your ownself, dear one--- after a night of "guard duties" with the little ones, NAP when THEY NAP!!! From a very old mother of five--- and 15 grands!! <3

  2. Thanks for the interesting post. I've sure been there, too. It often felt like that when there was no nursery--at a church on the mission field. I felt like I was there "in body" and only "for show/to teach faithfulness to my kids" because I certainly didn't feel refreshed spiritually.

  3. Really good, Patty. Faithfulness. My husband and I had a similar conversation recently. It has been a very discouraging time, and sometimes you want to go on a vacation--or skip a service like everyone else does. Not really, but you momentarily feel that way. Good post, and very real. God is faithful. Thank you!

  4. Faithfulness is hard. It is so easy to justify not being faithful. I'm glad that God doesn't use the same excuses on us as we use on Him. It is definitely one of those "always working on things" for me. That and patience and loving when things are unlovely. :) We all have our lists of "improvements" that we are working on within ourselves, I suppose. I do know this - the more we work on ourselves, the less we try to point out others' faults because we realize we haven't arrived yet, either. :) Love you!