Big Girls Need Hugs Too
Moms try to cushion children from the onslaught of disappointment and life’s big boo-boos, whether a painful skinned knee, a tangle of hurt feelings, or the reality that life doesn’t always go as planned. We like to weave a tight net of guidance and hope under our babies, so they can bounce back from unmet expectations.
And yet, sometimes, we are the ones thoroughly disappointed and felled by a heavy heart, dragged down by another person, a life choice, or difficult decision that meant we were denied that last slice of mile-high meringue pie upon which we were counting. Yep, we thought we had dibs on that unparalleled piece.
As a woman who works in a large church, caring for lots of God’s children, I am often stretched like a rubber band, beyond the point of reason or time, finding myself popping back to the sharp sting of emptiness or loneliness.
Recently, my husband, a devoted father, asked me if he could fly to his far-away home state and attend his aunt’s 95th birthday. Knowing how much the occasion meant to him, I tapped Victor a thumbs-up across my smart phone like a benevolent fairy.
Then I looked at my calendar for the week, and here’s what I saw.
Preach the Friday evening service. Kids’ ice skating lessons the next morning. A book signing that afternoon, out-of-town. Two more services Sunday morning. Get us fed. Pack for three-day Annual Conference of our denomination. Arrive an hour away at the required opening meeting by 3:30 p.m.
Uh-oh. Suddenly, with my husband away, the weekend looked complicated and stressful. Not only that, it appeared I would not get much quality time with my boys. The meringue on my piece of my pie threatened to collapse entirely.
In the Gospel of Mark, the word “immediately” occurs more than forty times. The pace of Jesus’ ministry is pressing in on him, moving him quickly from one load of human need to another. That sounds a lot like mom-life. The thought of Jesus’ full humanity brings me comfort. It reminds me that not only did Jesus take breaks, he also stopped for meals and fellowship with friends. He made time for coffee and pie with loved ones, as well as quiet prayer.
During my crazy, busy weekend and beyond, there would be little relaxing. Nonetheless, I wanted to make the most of my life in this chaos. I decided to go with the flow because God was in the frenetic schedule with me.
I announced to the Friday congregation that I was a solo parent for the weekend. Smiling, they embraced me and the boys; they were tickled by my kids’ exuberant presence.
I called on family and friends to welcome my children into their homes and lives for the rest of Saturday. Such experiences allow them time to build individual relationships, minus mom and dad, not a bad thing. Two friends drove me to my book-signing, fed me shortcake cookies and coffee, and I met some lovely people. I called a babysitter we’ve known for seven years, who regularly gives us a date night. This sweet sister was more than happy to meet me at our house on Sunday and help me pack and stay with the boys until dad got home later that night. As I filled the suitcase, she also held the flashlight for me because our power was out.
Although the pace of the weekend often felt to me like each scheduled event was an obstacle to be tackled, there were wonderful moments in between when, through the care and support of others, God lovingly fed me, and hugged me. To think that God doesn’t understand the pace of life is to forget the story of Jesus’ fast and furious ministry, and the stories he told about how God diligently wants to meet our deepest longing for love. Indeed, God is like a woman who sweeps until she has found that one misplaced coin, a beautiful reminder that God is not about to let us get lost in the confusion and chaos of life (Luke 15:8). This God always finds surprising ways to deliver us, love us, and hold us tightly. And that gracious gift is better than pie.