More often than not, my girls make me happy. They’re sweet, helpful, nurturing toward everyone from me to their stuffed animals, and they say really weird funny 2-year-old things all day.
But they are most definitely not my source of sustaining joy. When I look to my two-year-olds for my hope, I am putting an impossible expectation on them they’ll never be able to fulfill.
That was brought home to me once again at 5:40 yesterday morning, when Catalina stood at the door yelling for me and waking her sister & Bryant, who’s been sick and working long hours. No matter that Lucy would sleep later. It’s 5:45 or bust and sister had better get up too.
I’ll admit, I was not thrilled. Every time I set my (Silent! Far away from her bed!) alarm earlier, she seems to instinctively wake just then. I wanted to say, can’t I have fifteen minutes to myself before I start meeting your needs for the next 14 hours?
Mercifully I was reminded in that moment of frustration that drinking hot coffee alone, obedient children, smooth nap & bedtimes and a day free of meltdowns are not going to satisfy my soul.
And yet again by nap time, I was feeling frustrated again by the small stresses that pile up and can totally sap my joy. I tried to find satisfaction in cleaning up, starting dinner, a short nap. I didn’t feel better, though, and realized I needed to look to the Word. I read Psalm 33:
“Shout for joy in the Lord, Oh you righteous! Praise befits the upright…
For the Word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord…
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
My joy is in being counted righteous before God, something no one but Jesus could accomplish for me. Nothing can change that. Praise befits the upright. Not because my kids slept til 6:30 and I had a great quiet time alone, or because we had a fun day and nap and mealtimes went smoothly. Those are definite sources of temporary happiness and I am thankful for them when they do happen. But because of God’s steadfast love toward me that will never change.
Maybe that sounds too philosophical and eternity too far to bring joy in those super tired moments and super exhausting toddler tantrums. But when so much of motherhood is a fight to love well and keep on serving when you just want to put yourself first, the knowledge that everything that matters in eternity has already been accomplished for me by One who loves me can change everything about my heart attitude.
I’m definitely thankful for my girls, and the boy on the way. They bring so much real joy to my life. But it’s the sort of joy that points me to the giver of a joy no tantrum can take away.
By the way, Risen Motherhood has a great recent podcast about this very topic. I was excited to listen, because this has been on my heart a lot lately as God uncovers the “broken cisterns” I run to for satisfaction. I found it really encouraging, like every podcast of theirs. They also share a lot of good blog posts that have helped me check my heart attitudes and realize where I’m seeking for hope that I shouldn’t be.