Just one letter separates gory from glory. Okay, maybe that’s a coincidence, but we certainly don’t often see these words together. Today, I want to throw them both into the parenting mix.
I had a three-year-old and a six-month-old. It was winter. Need I say more? If you’ve been there, you know what my life was like: lonely, exhausting, thankless…and one day looked just like the next. There were fantastic, joyful, never-forget-til-the-day-I-die moments, but at the time, the difficult days loomed so much larger than the delightful days. If you’re there now, this post is for you. I considered it a good week if I spent a little time in the Word at some point every day (often mid-afternoon while one napped and the other watched an Elmo video) and made it to church on Sunday.
I remember scoffing as I read verses like these:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (Find more about these verses *here*.)
Go back with me to one of those days…
Really? Give thanks for the explodopoop that I must now clean off my child, his changing table, the wall and my clothes—not just my child’s clothes? Oh, and did I mention that I’m all by myself here?!? Obviously, Paul was not a mother to two (or more) preschoolers! Ten years later, I still remember standing there, looking at that mess, and pondering the meaning of life:
- Did I really get a master’s degree so I could do this?
- In what way, Lord, are you honored here? Because I think I’m about to puke.
- What am I doing wrong? (Thinking poop wasn’t actually supposed to explode out of a person no matter how small that person was.)
- Is it really your will, Lord, for me to thank you for poop?
- Do I have even one t-shirt without some sort of baby stain on it? (So some of my thoughts weren’t very profound. Give me a break—I was sleep-deprived!)
The answers didn’t come right away. I didn’t have an epiphany. There was no light shining through the window carrying an angel who made me a better mom. But eventually, I came to understand it like this…
Thank Him for the spiritual training and for recognizable blessings.
Even when your days are occupied by dirty diapers and mashed-peas (which, let’s be honest, don’t look dissimilar), it is possible to find things for which you are thankful. Look back at 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It says, “give thanks in all circumstances” not “for all circumstances.”
If I can’t thank Him for the poop; at least I can thank Him through the poop.
- Thank you, God, that my child’s digestive system works.
- Thank you that I am learning to be a servant who doesn’t expect recognition.
- Thank you that I can take my child to a licensed doctor whenever I think something is wrong with him.
- Thank you that I am learning empathy for other moms—oh, so much empathy!
- Thank you that my schedule allows time to clean this up right now, then sit with one or both of my children and wrap my arms around them so they know how much I love them.
- Thank you for finding me worthy to steward the life of a whole person. (This one’s a biggy.)
Choose to praise Him in the middle of the goriest parenting tasks.
After God changed my thinking regarding dirty diapers, I started singing praise songs while I changed diapers. The song calmed me and my child, but more importantly, it kept my mind focused on God my Savior.
Know that the primary discipling relationship of your life lies on that changing table.
It may not feel like it in the moment, but even now, you are leading your child into Christ-likeness through your actions and words. There is value—even in changing diapers.
These meager, mundane moments are not inconsequential. Not only do you have the chance to glorify God, but He continues to pursue your spiritual growth. Yes, even now…perhaps especially now. Don’t miss this chance!
“We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts.” –Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow.
“It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying attention to us.” –Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, 11/16.