The naptime battle rages on. I hear her door crack open again and I call out for her to get back on her bed or else. My loud, abrupt shout startles the feeding baby in my arms. He begins to cry, offended. Have I stopped to listen to myself lately?
I don’t even recognize my own voice sometimes. The sharp, angry tones I hear myself using as I demand compliance and obedience.I reheat water for a cup of coffee… no, tea… no, instant chai – it’s quickest. I pop a couple pieces of bread into the toaster, which I’ll spread with butter and honey. I can’t decide if this counts as lunch, a snack, or the end of my breakfast. I take a few deep breaths, trying to calm the surging frustration within. How is it that nap time and bedtime are the most exhausting times of the day… for me. And the little girl who so obviously needs the rest is so wide awake?! I want to scream. Pound my head against the wall.
Wait. What is this? What have I become? Where is all of my patience and joy?
A quote I’ve heard plenty of times comes to mind:
Don’t let anyone steal your joy.
And I feel a wave of bitterness wash over me… Bitterness toward these perceived thieves of my joy.
I remember feeling this way during the early days (years?) of marriage… surprised at the ugliness that welled up deep within when I felt lonely or offended. I really thought I was a nice person. I thought I was polite and kind.
I got along with my parents growing up… no yelling matches or big fights. For the most part I got along with classmates and roommates in college. How is it, then, that the dear members of my little family are the ones that bring out this side of me?
I would be joyful if…
… my child was obeying me right now
…I didn’t have to clean up after everyone else
… others appreciated me more
…it was warmer outside
…the baby stopped crying long enough for me to go to the bathroom
… my coffee cup was full
… my kids slept. ever. (Just kidding, they do. But when they don’t, it feels like they never do!)
… (I think you get the idea)
As I pound my head against the kitchen cabinets waiting for my toast to pop up, something else comes to mind. Not a cutesy quote this time, but a verse of Truth:
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. Colossians 1:11
Be strengthened? Yes! According to HIS glorious might? Please! Patience with joy?! Exactly what I need.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Joyful in hope. Not in my circumstances, emotions, or accomplishments.
Oh, joy. How I desperately want to be filled with it. Characterized by it. And so I can be!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
If my hope and joy aren’t founded in the people and circumstances around me, then they can’t be taken away by them either.
Choose joy, friends. It’s yours from the God of hope, according to His glorious might!
(Thank you to Rachel Ricklefs Photography for these beautiful photos!)