when life builds you

You know the days when your baby takes long, peaceful naps and the sun is shining on the patio? You know the days when everybody’s happy when Dad gets home and there are kisses and giggles; dinner time is a cozy, cheerful affair? You know when you look at those smiling green baby eyes and put down the distractions and go for a walk together, cooing and bababa-ing back and forth at each other the whole while? Those are the days you build your life.

Proverbs 9:1-2, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.” I didn’t really pay much attention to these two verses until a year or so ago, when I read the end of the chapter in the context of the beginning. Verses 13, 16-17 say “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.” She calls out “‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ and to him who lacks sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.'”

You know the days where your babe seems to wake up just half-an-hour too soon every time you lay him down? The days when you have a crick in your neck which causes a headache which, you ruefully reflect, will probably mean terrible sleep? You know the days when the terrible sleep means you’re still groggy when the boy wakes and wants a bottle, so you might as well just stay awake? You know the days when the man you love comes home and you just want to snap that you never get to punch out and go home from your job? Those are still the days you build your life.

It’s obvious in Proverbs 9: Wisdom works. She builds the life she wants, the good life. You can’t exclude the bad days from this pretty pattern you want to create. The days when you’ve planned and organized and somehow your life still seems in control of you? The days when you sit down dazed on the edge of the bed and wonder if you managed anything, at all, besides the (too-late) timing of your son’s (slightly healthy-ish…) meals? Those are the days you want a do-over. And those are the days you still need to build – if nothing else, build your responses to the way those hours shove you around.

You can’t – ok, let’s stop masking this in second person.

I can’t create a grace-filled life if I’m not going to have that grace on the hard days.

I can’t lead a loving life if I toss love to the wind when it’s not easy.

I can’t have a heart that serves if I’m not going to serve when I’m tired.

Let me tell you, this kind of life – this kind life – takes a lot of courage. But even more it takes persistence. I need courage and mercy and gentleness this morning? Yeah, well I’m going to need them all again this afternoon, this evening. Again, tomorrow morning. It seems it’s always time to choose. Everything is only ever built brick by brick.

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example

Morning nap – first nap of the day. Sit you down and read I tell myself. I leave the breakfast dishes, the scattered letter blocks with baby teeth marks, and I begin my mid-morning with scripture. It’s a slow-forming habit. To ignore the sunshine, the messy floors, the urge to spend quiet hours indulging in youtube – it’s not easy. The rewards come slowly, but they come. So I sit with my Bible again.

I don’t like to have a daily time with God unless I have a plan of some kind. Lately, as I attempt to parent well, I have chosen Proverbs as my starting point. I’m reading through the gospels as well, but I start each study time by reading through the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month.

It is four months in; I love the repetition. Again and again I hear the same warnings against adultery, the same urging to seek wisdom, the same need for a fear of the Lord. And again and again Proverbs says “listen, my son”. Each time I’ve read it I’ve thought, What have my parents taught me that I need to remember and listen to right now? Today, God changed what I heard. What do I want Erik to learn from me, and remember?

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That was not a comfortable question.

I want Erik to learn love. I want him to know the “breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” so that he can love others with that same abundance. So then, that is how I need to live. I am pondering now how I can better love others. I want to be somebody who cares, who remembers somebody’s name, who hears their struggle without condemnation.

My mama was a great one for loving people. She’d invite anyone over for holidays if they didn’t have a place to gather. She’d talk to a stranger in the grocery store or a wrong number on the phone for an hour, just because she cared enough to feel their hurts. I want that heritage to run strongly in Erik, so it will need to run strongly in me. I have heard it said that a mother’s biggest contribution to the world may be those she raises. If that is true, then the only way I can truly magnify that contribution is to lead Erik by my own example.

So, here is to living the large love my mother taught me. Listen well, baby boy.