Friday, 1 November 2013

The one standing in front of me

These days of my life are about the one standing in front of me.

My head whirls.  My ears hurt.  My days are filled with little people yelling at me and crying and whining and demanding things of me.  No one wait their turn or heeds the fact that I'm already engaged in something.  The laundry piles and the fridge empties and the clock ticks towards dinner with nothing planned.  The commitments and appointments are scrawled across the calendar.  My stomach is empty and my head is full and my patience is short.  I am in a lull, without a spark, void of inspiration.

These dips happen.  The landscape of motherhood isn't a rolling meadow but rather a rugged journey over mountains and valleys.  The highs are soaring, the lows are deep, and everything in between is a climb and descent that takes its toll mentally and physically.

If I let myself get overwhelmed trying to multitask it all, I won't make it.  Burnout might not be a spectacular crash, it might just be a loss of interest and joy in this work.  I don't want my days to roll forward missing that joy that I want to have.

And so I have a new outlook.  I will serve the one standing in front of me.

When I was in university I had a friend who looked at you when you spoke.  I mean, he really looked at you.  He didn't break eye contact, he didn't look away, he wasn't distracted by someone else walking by or a honking car or a cell phone or his fingernails.  At first, it was a little disconcerting, because we are not used to being looked at so intently.  But while our conversation endured, he gave me his 100% undivided attention.  I have long thought about that habit of his.  It made me feel as though he really wanted to hear what I had to say, that I was important enough to give his attention to.  That feeling has stayed with me a decade later.  It was a small, brief contact that left a lasting impression.

I am going to experiment with being less distracted when one of my children, or my husband, are standing in front of me.

I see it in the bible also: Jesus was busy.  He had places to go, plans he had made, journeys to make.  And yet, on the way, he was constantly being interrupted.  Pleas for healing, helping, teaching.  Requests for detours: come to my house, go see my child, don't leave us.  And yet we have all these little bible stories, some are only mere verses or lines, that constituted Jesus stopping and serving the one standing in front of him.  It may have taken him 6 hours to journey a 2 hour trip, just as it takes me 6 hours to do 2 hours worth of laundry.  He may have gone hungry as meal times came and went and still the people pressed.  His plans and visits were waylaid time and time again.  But for those two or three verses, he let the world melt away as he served the one standing in front of him.  For Jesus, it was moments, maybe a couple of hours.  But for the one mentioned in that verse, it was a lifetime changed.

Imagine!  How radically would your life be changed if you were suddenly healed of a disease that kept you from entering the cities and towns?  How different if the lifeless child in your arms suddenly sat up?  If your lame legs could take you places?  If you saw the sun for the first time?  These are pivotal moments in these characters lives, moments that likely changed the way they lived their lives forever.  All in a few verses.  All because Jesus served the one standing in front of him.

My friend left that kind of impression on me, albeit much less dramatic.  And yet, it opened to me a better understanding of how to love.

I want my heart to open even more to that kind of love.  I want to lavish it on those around me, especially those little ones and loved one in my own home that deserve the very best of my attention.

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