As a parent, some days seem impossible. My children whine and bicker with one another and with me, refusing generosity and kind words for that ubiquitous I-my-me. They grumble about their work and wish their day away, convinced they are missing the elusive Better–who always seems to be somewhere else, doing something else. And sometimes secretly in my own heart I do the same. When I am careless, these sort of days will swallow me whole, like a serpent and an egg, removing me from the moment into daydreams of Better. I know we all dream of better, a natural progression in life and maturity, but this is Better, the one who finds me (and maybe you) in my ordinary day and taunts me with the idea that I somehow have less, am receiving less.
I felt this impossible swallowing at some point last week and naturally spent a few days trying to adjust and fix [my routine, words, pictures, plans], working harder, when what I really needed was to stop working. Instead, I really needed to reflect and give thanks. Sometimes we really require inspiration and encouragement to move us forward and other times we need to look around and be grateful for what we have. It’s the simplest of lessons, really–one I can easily disregard with a simple “oh yeah, I know.” But true thanksgiving has a way of healing fissures in our soul caused by want. I do this intuitively as a parent when my kids are grumbling with one another or about something they want. “And what are you grateful for? How has someone been generous to you?” I’ll ask, almost rhetorically. Yet, it’s more difficult to self-govern my own heart in these moments.
Honestly, it’s difficult and awkward for me to say these things out loud, to write them here for the world to see. But I hope in sharing this somehow you’ll see that no one is perfect, not even me. I hope that these words comfort you to remember that behind all the beautiful images and stories clouding our various screens, we’re all living by grace and struggling with the various limits of our humanity. We are all wrestling with the idea of Better. I hope that in reading these words you’ll remember to be patient with yourself and those around you and, for a moment, to take inventory of your life and to give thanks.