I am a creature of comfort. I love my bed, naps, and temperate weather. Ask my husband: I freak out over twisted bed sheets and transform into a snarling, wild-eyed, beast when hangry.
I nest smalls comforts around myself (Facebook, coffee, isolation) with the ever echoing excuse of “I need to stay sane enough to survive the day (morning, hour).” My desire for comfort devolves my thought time into fantasy, fueled by need for escape. I long to be alone, long to be on vacation, long to crawl into bed and never look through that revolving door of laundry, dishes, sticky faces again. Motherhood feels like monotonous repetition: wrestle, wipe, wallow, repeat…
Do you ever have those seasons when God is chipping away at something? Every couple days it seems He reaches a new layer of my hard heart, and I think, “OH, now I get it!” Then He starts over again- for months. I am there. Each revelation has been subtle-a moment of peaceful release- until this week.
This week my pastor, JR Vassar, spoke on sloth. This week, after an 8 month whirlwind of life in the raw (preempted by me saying, “God, help me to stop being selfish”), Jesus whispered and it rattled my cage to the core.
This week, I saw what drives me: and it is ugly.
Vassar defined sloth (this is my loose paraphrase from hurried notes) as, “Hating the place, the responsibilities, and the design that God has placed upon you.” So here I am. A mom of 3, blogger on behalf of moms, a stay-at-home advocate for motherhood and childhood in all it’s glory and grunge. Here I am confessing to you (the internet): deep down I have hated my purpose.
I have an odd dichotomy when it comes to the view of myself versus other mothers who do what I do. I respect and honor their sacrifice, while disdaining my own. In my youth, I wanted to travel, to be a missionary and give my everything (home, heart, comforts, closest loves) to Jesus by way of great adventure. Now, when someone so innocently asks me “What do you do?” I inwardly cringe. I stumble out some version of being “just a mom” and then try to pad my answer with a more honorable resume. Then I walk away, feeling belittled by my own prejudice.
In the last weeks as selfishness is revealed and aching heart clings, I find myself clawing at comfort and left wanting. Weeks of staying home with sick children drives me to social media and I wallow in my lonesomeness. I look in the mirror at my bulging, aching body, and can’t see past the ill-fitting shirts to the co-creation happening below. My clothing is composed entirely of spandex and snot (or is that bananas? It’s hard to tell). So I wrestle.
I fight at my purpose, picking at it like an ugly scab that maligns my self-image. I shirk my responsibilities because they feel unimportant. I ignore my children because they need me, and I want to not be needed. The image-bearer forgets she is made to love and clothes herself in self-indulgent grief. He holds up a mirror and I realize: I am the sloth in my home.
In believing my design is boring and insignificant, I am believing the Designer is as well. Vassar said there is no virtue without repetition. “My life is a revolving door”, I think, “I’m the holiest donkey in the world!” (if you haven’t seen the video, sorry for the obscure reference). Then Jesus whispers, “Faith without deeds is dead;” virtue without love is empty.
Gracy Olmstead says it better in her article, Don’t Dismiss Housework, “In his book You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith argues that our daily habits reveal what we truly love. The daily rituals of virtue (or of vice) that we cultivate are most often happening “under the hood” of our consciousness. There’s a “liturgy” we’re repeating with our daily actions—one that informs our most basic desires and wants.”
My very DNA means I have creation built into my marrow. I can create, birth, and nurture LIFE in the quiet inner sanctum of this temple. Will I embrace all that comes along with this honor or will I spend my days in the rinse-repeat cycle of escapism and survival? Will I find joy in the unseen, private sacrifice of bringing order to chaos within the walls of my home?
I hear the whisper again, “I would have left the glory of heaven even if you were the only one who needed my sacrificial love.” My brain bites at this thought, so contrary to our human economy. The reality of leaving all glory and honor and comfort for such a “minuscule” and ordinary purpose rakes against my natural inclinations.
He gave His everything (home, heart, comforts, closest loves) to show me that the very essence of motherhood IS my great adventure. He saw the wholeness of His children as ultimate. He entered into the pain and heaviness of relationship because His nature is composed of love. He brought cosmos from chaos, and each morning sings it over my burrowing, fearful heart again. Now He whispers into my restless sloth: “Join me.”