It's been a cold last few weeks (in case you hadn't noticed).
And with that cold comes many, many, MANY (did I mention many?) hours stuck inside. This imprisonment has led to a bit of stir-craziness here, not only among my four littles but also in my own brain and its need for stimulation.
So when my husband got a work call last Saturday morning altering the potential plans we had made for the afternoon, I refused to spend yet another day confided to the house.
“Who wants to go to Michael's?” I asked. Always up for an adventure to the local craft store which just also happens to carry a few toys as well as stuffed animals, my kids jumped at the chance.
“Can we bring our money?” they asked, as I knew they would. Sure. Why not? I thought to myself.
Already getting a late start on the day, we began the task of getting everyone (including myself) out of pjs and into normal clothing and ready for the day. You see, we're not in the stage of life yet in our family where we're running to 26 different activities on Saturday morning in just as many directions and therefore, some weekends, we take advantage of the time together at home and linger in our pajamas for maybe just a tad too long than is healthy.
Now I will say this: the “getting ready” process has definitely gotten easier over the years. However, I can still honestly say that I have no idea what still takes so long. We can be gliding right along through our morning routine, I'll glance at the clock and think Hey, not too bad so far! and before I know it, one of my boys lost his socks and my daughters are sitting on the floor of their room, half-dressed, drawing pictures on an easel. Add to that the complication of the day brought on by the idea of bringing one's own money, and we were consumed by “the process” of leaving the house. Once I was sure at least 3 out of the 4 kids had brushed their teeth, my girls' hair had been combed and a session of Money 101 was held (yes, four quarters actually DOES equal the same as the “paper money” with the one on it and no, you cannot bring every single piece of change in your piggy bank), we were set to go. I looked at the clock.
Seriously? Where had the morning gone? I knew that any reasonable mother would be starting to think about lunch right about now, which should then be reasonably served within the next hour. And we were just leaving NOW?
I looked at my kids, half of them with boots on, the other with at least one arm in their coats. We were so close to being out the door. I couldn't possibly consider the idea of everyone undoing the progress we had made just so that lunch could be on time. I knew if we did that, we'd never “get out”.
“Ok,” I announced. “Who wants a cheese stick and who wants a yogurt smoothie?” The kids looked at me like I was crazy. “It's getting close to lunch time and you gotta put something in those bellies before we go,” I explained. “So just pick one.”
This, of course, led to discussions as to who was having what, how many banana smoothies were left (it seems to be the favorite lately...or at least for this week) and “could I have something to drink?”. We ate, we drank (in our winter coats and boots) and we left.
The beginning of the shopping trip went just fine. Everyone took their time looking at what they wanted to, we held the second session of Money 101 in the aisle next to the Fuzzy Posters as I desperately tried to explain the idea of “going halvsies” on a pack of two so each could get one.
But as we neared the far end of the store nearest the checkouts – which of course was the area with the one item I needed to look at – the hunger began to set in and with it, the moods began to tank.
“I'm hungry,” I heard multiple times from my boys, who ironically seem to have not cleaned their plates at mealtime in years. “Are we almost done?” my girls pleaded. “I'm ready to go home.” Trying to keep my cool, I calmly explained that I had just patiently walked through all of their aisles and all I needed was 10 more minutes to look at what I had come to the store for. We finally reached the checkout, needing to make 5 separate transactions (why had I said they could bring their money again?), and we were back in the van, although all a bit less happy than when we started, despite the fact they each held a new stufftie in their lap.
Frustrated that my time had gotten cut short and also a bit melancholy that we were now returning home again with an entire indoor afternoon and evening stretching before us, I wanted to lash out. I wanted to reprimand my kids for needing to eat lunch and letting this hunger get the better of them.
Where was my logic? I had been the one to push too hard. I had been the one to suggest going to the store, when I knew full-well how long it would take to get out of the house and just how close to lunch time it was. I was the responsible adult who could accurately tell time. But yet I did it anyway because I needed to get out. And why was I upset? Because I didn't get to look at my stuff for as long as I wanted. It wasn't their fault that they were hungry. It wasn't their choice to eat only a cheese stick or yogurt before leaving the house. That was all on me. And I should've known better that it wouldn't be enough to get us through, even for the smallest appetites in all of us.
But let me ask you: how many times don't we do this same thing with our faith? We run on empty, focused on our own agendas, maybe scattering some church services or devotions in here or there in hopes to satisfy our soul's hunger for more. And maybe we even drag others along with us: a spouse, our kids, a friend. We push and push and push, knowing full-well that our faith is wavering, our fire dwindling, our hunger for God and His Word growing. But we push past it anyway.
We try to suppress the yearning of our souls, telling ourselves there will be more time tomorrow, that we can make it by on the faith and knowledge we already possess and continue our break neck pace, never realizing that we're sacrificing moments of peace at every turn.
We would never expect a person who hadn't eaten a full meal in days to successfully run and complete a marathon. Why should it be any different with our faith?
If you've had faith all of your life, it can be easy to fall into the thought pattern that there's not a lot left to learn. After all, you've been hearing the Bible stories since you were teeny tiny in Sunday school and you've spent just about every Sunday in church for the last 20+ years. Sure, you know there are small details about the Bible with which you may not be familiar, but you get the gist and that's all that really matters. While it is true that faith even the size of a mustard seed can “move mountains” (Matthew 17:20), imagine what more we could do in this world with faith that it is being fed on a daily basis and growing as a result!
It's time to move past the spiritual milk. No more complacency in our faith. No more pushing aside the hunger just to come out on the other side drained and spent. Each day we are fighting a battle: a battle against the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh. We need to be armed with the words of our heavenly Father, ready to answer, ready to defend, ready to encourage (Ephesians 6:10-18). The only way to put this armor on is to continue spending time with Him and His words, studying them, journaling them, praying them, discussing them.
Everyone in the van did indeed make it home that day without passing out from lack of nourishment. Soon their bellies were full (my boys still didn't finish what was on their plates) and their moods had lifted. And this mama learned, once again, that pushing past the hunger, whether my own or someone elses, is never a good idea.
May God remind us all that this is also true in our walk with Him.