Tonight I feel defeated–by three small golden-brown-headed people; by a slippery mental to-do list that never gets properly put down on paper; by at least eight loads of dirty laundry that glower at me every time I venture into the basement. I feel like my sweet, long-suffering, over-tired B did yesterday:
That is the quivering chin of a child who has had to give up the toddler swing to his baby sister. Imagine a plaintive, quavering voice increasing in volume: “I want the bwuuuue swing!!! I want the BWUUUUE swing!”
This was insult added to injury. A little earlier, I had heard the sudden sounds of true distress from the other room and darted away from the half-loaded dishwasher to find B a blubbery mess on the floor.
What happened? Did you fall down? What did you hurt?
There was no apparent damage.
Are you okay?
“NOOOOOO! I’m NOT okay! I’m NOT!!!!!”
I patted his head comfortingly. Does that feel better?
“NOOOOOO! It DOESN’T feel better! NOOOOOOO!”
Do you want me to hold you?
“NOOOOOOOO! I don’t THINK SO you can HOLD me! NOOOOOO!”
Do you want me to kiss it?
I asked him again what hurt, and he gestured in the general direction of his whole head. I picked a spot and kissed it anyway.
Does that feel better?
He’s a bit dramatic. I don’t know where he gets that. NO IDEA.
I really need to start getting him down for his nap earlier in the afternoon.
But tonight I felt like my tired three-year-old–weary and wobbly, and about to be crushed by the weight of having a crock pot still to clean. When it wiped smooth with one stroke, I felt a little foolish.
Sometimes mercy in marriage looks like this: my husband giving me a hug in the finally-clean kitchen at nine o’clock, even though I haven’t had a shower since my 4 pm run and I am crusty to say the least. I did go downstairs and face one load of laundry–only because he had folded the load that was in the dryer. More mercy. As I pulled small, wadded navy blue socks out of pant legs, I started murmuring snatches of a song I have loved for years:
No one would love me
if they knew all the things I hide …
And the hands I’ve seen raised to the sky
Not waving but drowning all this time
I’ll try to build an ark that they need
To float to you upon the crystal sea
Give me your hand to hold
‘Cause I can’t stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We’ve got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low
The prince of despair’s been beaten
But the loser still fights …
And I’m surrounded by suffering and sickness
So I’m working tearing back the roof…
–Caedmon’s Call, “Love Alone”
It’s been another long day of working at tearing back the roof–for my children, for myself, for the burdens that bear down on my heart. And half the time I give up that work, scurry away, and try to cobble together a solution on my own, to make the lame walk and the blind see. Then I feel the creeping despair as I see it not working, again, and my plans smacking head-first into bumps and bruises and squabbles and spills and the ever-marching clock. I’m grateful for mercy–a hug in front of the kitchen sink–and hope, which settles most soundly when I remember that I don’t have to get it all right, and I won’t.
Swing your robe down low.
Today was a better day for B. I hope tomorrow will be better for both of us. If it isn’t, there will still be grace. I want to keep working at tearing back the roof, bringing it to Jesus.
And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:28-29).