Slow Work

God is doing a slow work in me.   So many days it feels like nothing is happening.   Like my life, which once seemed so useful and productive, is making zero impact on the world.  The days when life was defined by an impressive string of accomplishments are lost somewhere at the bottom of the laundry pile.  There are moments when the words “three meals a day” can actually strike a chord of terror in my heart.  I can actually see them: Hundreds of thousands of meals that I will be responsible for, stretching out into eternity.

Sometimes it feels like all I do is fail miserably at trying to maintain a messy house.  Like the crowning achievement of my life would be to mop the kitchen floor.

I want more than this.

I remember when people used to ask me what I do.  “I am a musician.”  “I am an artist.”  “I am a teacher.”  My identity was so much clearer then. Now, I don’t even know how to answer.

“I am mostly a Mommy.”

What does that even mean?

Life with five small children is beautiful and messy and of course exhausting.  I chose this life.  I want this life.   I love this life.  I know it is passing by right before my eyes and that one day I will mourn the loss of it.

God is doing a slow work in me.

Motherhood is changing me so much that I sometimes hardly recognize myself.  Sometimes it feels like I am not accomplishing anything that is tied to the identity I once considered to be my true self.  Children work on you like erosion on the soil, loosening everything that will come up, leaving only what is solid beneath.  The me that I imagined is mostly worn away.   I am still wrestling with the fact that my life is not my own, even though I have known this all along.

God is doing a slow work in me.

Marriage is changing me.  Sometimes marriage can be like the effects of weather and natural disasters on the earth of your heart.  Can the ground stay fertile?  Will we continue to do the hard labor of moving out debris from every devastating earthquake and rebuild?  Will we anchor our hearts together through the storms?  God, this work is hard.  It takes a willingness to live in a constant state of forgiveness–giving it, asking for it, and receiving it.  But there is enough sunlight and rain for beautiful things to grow here.  God, please let this love grow.

God is doing a slow work in me.

I think this is what it means to be a family.  Slow work.  It is not necessarily about how much we accomplished today.  It is about what is happening deep in the core of our beings, the slow work that God is doing in our hearts.  It is living in collaboration with one another, surrendering to the clear will of God to offer up our whole selves as living sacrifices.  Up to this point in my life, God has given me no clearer opportunity to do this than to be a wife and mother.  The life I have now is one that I never imagined.  I am a changed woman.  My identity is so much fuller and complex.  My soul is knit together with the man that I love.  We are one person.  Everything he does is part of me.  Each child that has moved through my body has changed me deeply, from the inside out.  As my oldest daughter grows and changes, so she grows and changes me.  Her emotions deepen my own.  When she grieves, my heart aches in a new place.  Her joy fills me fuller.  The baby touches all of our lives.  We share her and grow more loving because of her.

God is doing a slow work in me.

One day I may have a whole day to myself again.  To write songs or make art.  To learn to sew.  To write that book that I really want to get out of me. In the meantime, I have to lay aside my old ideas of what being productive looks like.  I can only do what I can find time to do.  But look at what is happening: Every day, my house is full of artwork and laughter and music. My four year old son illustrates stacks of stapled-together-paper-books every day.  My daughters create paper dolls and play the Irish whistle.   My two year old designs cities out of wooden blocks.  The baby is inventing her very own dear little version of sign language.   So much of the mess of this house is because they are making beautiful things.  They are beginning their creative mark on the world.  Their work is inspired and prolific.  And I feel that in some way, it is an extension of the beauty that I myself wanted to add to this world.  They are doing it for me, better than I could do it myself, in their own voices and with their own hands.

God is doing a slow work in me.

And I want to surrender to that work.  To press into it.  To find meaning in the barely perceptible changes.  I want to see every endless pile of laundry as part of this work.  To see each meal as a blessing.  To walk through every season with thankfulness, not clinging to the old idea of who I am, but allowing God to work in me in his time and his way.  I want to walk in step with the Spirit, and allow him to make me the woman it will take a long, slow lifetime to become.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautifully written, Mackenzie.

  2. Mary says:

    love this