Who do I need to pay to get this child completely potty-trained?
Between crockpot meal prep, editing deadlines, teaching, freelance writing and blah, blah, and blah, when will I ever have more than five minutes to myself?
Why oh why does financial stability continue to play its cruel game of peek-a-boo? One minute it’s full and present in my life, ensuring that the mortgage is paid and affording my family the occasional dinner at Carrabba’s; the very next minute, it’s hiding behind pushed back publication dates, budget cuts in higher education, companies who “restructure” and editors who conveniently “lose” emails requesting payment.
I could go on.
No, I really could.
But good ole’ Apostle Paul, in all his post-Damascus Road wisdom stops me and says:
…I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am…”
—Philippians 4:11-13 TM
Yeah. Not quite there yet.
And no, I’d prefer it if Jesus did not strike me blind on the back of some Philly road in order for me to “straighten up and fly right” as my Granny used to say. In fact, I’m clear that my complaints about the ebbs and flows of life don’t serve me much. Half of the time my voicing them is just a way for me to catch my breath. To breathe again. But then something happens that helps me see the real damage in all my complaining.
I see it in her.
The impatience. The resistance to what is. The thought that if she just says, “I want Hug Me, Elmo!” over and over and over again that somehow the toy will magically appear. This is not unlike my own prayers, I’m afraid. She’s two though. What’s my excuse?
Our children are our reflections. They show us ourselves. And if we had our way, we’d only see the good. Like the fearlessness my baby girl shows when trying something new? Yep, that’s me. Her ability to articulate herself so clearly at such a young age? Me, baby. Her love of dance? All mommy. But we cannot turn a blind eye to (or blame on Daddy) all the other stuff our children show us. The tendency toward restlessness? Mommy, for sure. The anxiety and controlling nature I see burgeoning on the surface of her personality? *gulp* I own that.
She is my mirror. And if she’s ever going to have a shot at doing better—being better than me in this life—I’m going to have to model something else to her. So today, I make a public commitment to her. I exchange my complaints for gratefulness. My anxiety and worry for trust and prayer. She will see something else so that she will know that she can be something else.
I will lean into God when the desires of my heart don’t exactly match my circumstances. And I will teach her to do the same. Because maybe, just maybe God sees something I don’t. Maybe, just maybe the lessons we learn from the experiences that create our discontentment are the very things that will first drive us closer to Him… and then amazingly to the things we really want.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.