A headache starts to form as you bounce your crying baby on your hip. Where did you put the wipes again? Her face and hands are full of puréed carrots, the kind that stain. Your third trip to the kitchen to grab paper towels reveals the pot overboiling, spilling foamy pasta water onto the stove top below, causing that sizzing sound you know will take forever to scrub off later.
The baby, tired of waiting for her bath, starts to slap your chest, sending carrot down your shirt and up your hair. Undercooked pasta will have to do as you make way to the bathtub.
A harried bath, a recycled pajama top and a diaper change later, the kid is asleep and you tiptoe your way down the stairs. You finish dinner (skipping the salad), load up the dishwasher, pick up toys for the bajillionth time, and collapse on the couch. You eye the book you started twice last week, but decide to rest for just a moment first, closing your eyes and settling in. You’ve barely exhaled your second breath when your husband walks in the door, hops down next to you and asks, “My neck is killing me today. Could I get a neck rub?”
There it is. That twinge of the all-too-familiar feeling that often creeps in during moments such as these: self-pity.
I have been invited to more pity parties during my time as mother than any other social event in history. Too often I find myself following the rabbit trail of wondering: “When was the last time I did anything for myself? Remember when I used to eat, shower, leave the house when I wanted? Did I even brush my teeth today?” Before I know it, I find myself missing my independence, my body, my six hours of sleep. I feel used, exhausted, unappreciated, undervalued. This downward spiral of thinking eventually leaves me feeling bitter, resenting the person or persons that seem to do nothing but take, take, take from me.
This particular evening, after I’d stiff armed my husband and sulked off to bed, I cracked open my Bible. I can’t be the only one feeling this way. Every person who has ever lived has had a mother… Surely the Good Book has something to say about this?
It wasn’t long into the book of John when I found myself marveling at Jesus’ journey to the cross. What a crazy phenomenon: the God of the Universe, stepping down into the world as a man to be cursed, scoffed at, ridiculed and spat on. So many people hated him for the truth he spoke, the miracles he performed. He was perfect, the King of Kings walking the earth to care for the lost and the least. He was humble, serving, loving and truth-speaking. Of all the glory and majesty he deserved, he instead received persecution and ultimately gave his life so that others may live.
What if Jesus held us in bitterness and contempt? What if, when he looked at us, he winced and complained of all that he had to give up and endure for us during his time on earth? How terribly bitter that gift would be, a gift of love and salvation through a clenched and unwilling fist.
Jesus was called to live and die for God’s glory. His purpose was to give–everything–of himself for unworthy, ungrateful people like me.
My calling is the same. God gave me an incredible husband and beautiful daughter in which he entrusted to me. I knew in saying “I do” and bringing her into the world that I would care for them, love them, give of myself. For me to feel sorry for myself and hold anything against them is to smear the very reason I woke up breathing today. God gave me my family to nurture and to cherish, not complain about and resent. And yes, that takes a lot of giving of self.
I’m going to a lot of parties these days. Sometimes it’s a wedding or a birthday celebration. But occasionally, when the invite arises to a party of one, I remember Jesus’ crazy and relentless love for me and quickly RSVP with: “Declines Without Regrets.”