I begrudgingly picked up the overflowing trashcan and sighed as I bent over to pick of the remnants that had fallen behind the can. I was annoyed that it had been full for more than half a day and nobody else had dumped it. I hurried through the front room to the side door so that nothing would drip on our new carpet as I made my way with the sliced bag of garbage. I opened the double locks and rushed outside as my oldest slammed the door as my left foot barely made it over the threshold. Tiptoeing on the driveway, I tried to avoid the debris that had been left over from the roofers last week and the rain that had caused it to stick to the cement. I lifted the lid on the second trash can on the left first with the garbage, followed by the recyclables in first place. I looked up and wondered if this even mattered. If this day – this thursday mattered. I had spent my entire day, no, week, cleaning up messes, unloading dishes, loading dishes, changing diapers, nursing, attempting to put kids to bed as a single parent (as my husband works evenings in the summer) and drinking tepid coffee. You all know how I feel about the temperature of my choice morning beverage. Walking back inside, I heard screaming as my right foot touched the rug just inside the door on the south side of the house. I considered how easily I could turn right back around and stand by the trash can for a few moments longer, considering the deep moments of my morning. I hadn’t slept well the past week, my 8 month old has just become a three toothed monster and it has been exhausting for the both of us. I made my way to the bathroom without turning on the light to wash my hands and looked in the mirror of the dark bathroom and thought to myself “briana. briana. briana” It’s a strange thing to look at your face while you repeat your name to yourself. You almost begin to not understand how the letters work together to create the sound. “Who is this?…briana”.
Recently, I’ve found it easy to question what is this, this daily thing I do. I’ve begun to ask myself scary questions, like, “what if all I have to show for my life is that I lived” … just lived. Did my daily chores, washed little bodies, prepared mediocre food, and sat on the porch swing as the sun sets over the west side of our home. I’m human. I think these thoughts. As much as I’d like to claim that my faith gives me a leg up on my humanity, it doesn’t… It does in that God directly tells us how to leave so that we don’t fiddle with uselessness, but I still struggle. I still struggle with issues of self-worth, with fears of being unsuccessful, with purpose and identity. I cling tightly to others and the security that they bring to my life, when I should cling to Christ. I look forward to relaxing with a glass of wine or beer at night after the kids fall asleep one by one. I seek connection and long for deep meaningful relationships. I’ve hurt other people’s feelings and hold onto grudges of being hurt. I try, everyday, but I am no vision of perfection. I yell at my husband, occasionally swear under my breath, and complain about potty accidents. I struggle with finding meaning, I desire to shop for that perfect item too frequently (and returning them the next day) due to guilt. I under-eat some days when I feel extra tense or worried for a sense of control.
I laid on the couch watching while my children played, occasionally fighting over the stacking tower in the front room. My daughter grabbed the shaking egg from my third child’s hand zealously and said “no, like this” and shook her hand over his up and down, up and down. All I could see was his back, but as she let go of his hand, I watched as his little fist gripped tightly over the egg as his whole body shook with delight. A new skill. Joy swept across her face as she watched her baby brother learn from her.
“I love you sis”, I told her. “Why?” she asks without skipping a beat with a slight intonation. Because everything is followed up with ‘why’ these days. She’s forced me to explain far more than I had imagined, where I end up questioning simple things like why is the grass pokey and why does it smell like poop in here. “Hun, I love you because… I just do.” After she has tantrums or is naughty, I try to remind her that I love her when she hits, when she screams, when she throws things. I love her when she is kind. I love her when she sleeps. I love her when she spills her food on the floor at the dinner table trying to make her brothers laugh. I just love her. I will always just love her. (as I will all my children).
God isn’t impressed by my successes. He isn’t impressed with the person I try to “create” for myself. My artificial identity that the world recognizes as worthy, a waste of time.
He loves me because he made me. I’m worthy because He made me. Not because He made ME. But because HE made me. He delights in me as I delight in my children (also His creation). He loves me when I yell at my children, when I struggle with jealousy, when I spend my time poorly, when I think on negativity. He loves me when I bake blueberry bread for my friend and when I hold a tired, fussy baby boy.
He loves that I can find Him by the trash can outside, barefoot, longing for something more.
I may have nothing tangible to show for my life, for the work I do each and every single day. But, HE knows and HE loves.
Oh, how He loves.