soft places | the hard of expectations

When you tell me you "slept like a baby" last night, I instinctively know the baby you're talking about is not mine.

 

And that's fine on most days. Because most days, my husband goes to work and I delight in the privilege of laboring at home. But on Saturday's, when help is snoozing in the other room, well, let's just say Mommy starts to care a little more that the only one in this household sleeping like a baby is Daddy.

 

 image by my favorite:  Seth Baines

image by my favorite: Seth Baines

 

The sun is just up, but he's still asleep by the time she goes down for her first nap.

 

I can't go back to sleep. I've had two cups of coffee to keep me from stumbling while I tote around my newborn. But the heaviness of my eyelids feels small in comparison to the weight I'm carrying in my heart.

 

I'm alone. I'm tense. I don't want to surrender.

 

I go to God with my tired eyes and stubborn heart. I ask Him to remind me that He is good. I ask Him for a heart humble enough to believe it. To believe it even while my husband lies in bed.

 

The craving of my heart to be served, to be acknowledged, to be recognized and honored by the one closest to me stands in opposition to the Kingdom of God, and I know it. I believe it. I write about it.

 

But always, there's a new application. A new experience that beckons faith to come alive with the promise it's hoped in. To come to the waters because the cistern I'm running to is broken, leaving my parched tongue with barely enough for one swallow.

 

She wakes before he does.

 

I toss away my thoughts and wayward heart and get lost in her little life. Lose your life to find it. He who becomes the least is the one who is great. Come to Me and receive. The greatest among you shall be your servant.

 

The deep roots of His Word claw their way up, out of the dry ground of my heart, itching to bear fruit on this day, in this situation. The fruit offers a taste, to see that He is good. That His ways of dying to self are good.

 

Somehow, it's easier to do this with a small child who came from your womb despite her attempts to keep you awake when the rest of the world is asleep.

 Harper at 7 months. Image above, Harper at 3 months.

Harper at 7 months. Image above, Harper at 3 months.

 

He wakes up, and the fruit I've been eating from the produce of God's Word no longer seems filling. It's frightening how easily pride can make grace taste bitter.

 

I forget the ways he's given himself away, fifty or more hours of work, all new and challenging and tiring. I forget that he's cooked nearly every meal this week because all that matters is this moment. He got to sleep hours longer than I did, and isn't everything supposed to be fair? Self-concern gives me tunnel vision, so if he's kind or weary or neither, I can't see it. He's standing on the other side of my expectations.

 

I tense up again, my flesh starved for him to tell me I'm worthy. To show me I'm not just a lowly servant in this household, in this never-ending dying-to-self reality that is motherhood.

 

This is what pride does. Pride looks to the eyes of man and to the work that we do to find value and meaning and significance. Pride hates feeling less than, hates remembering good, hates anything that interferes with the lie that says, "I deserve."

 

Pride is like the opposite of rose-colored glasses. 

 

"I'm tired," he says sort of nonchalantly.

 

Eyebrows raised, I pause. You know what's happening in my heart.

 

"Why?" comes out between clenched teeth. I ask monotonously, masking the frustration of quite an inconsiderate statement.

 

"I guess I didn't sleep well last night."

Really. I recount my night at the pity party in my mind. Up twice with a crying baby and awake for the day at 5:30, and you didn't sleep well last night.

 

Before I breathe out the bitterness ravaging my heart, God's instruction comes to me: Enter in.

But he's not thinking about me at all! I'm the one who's tired. I don't want to keep giving. It's so hard! Help me, Abba.

 

Help. This one little word reminds me of who I am before God. This is a reminder I need desperately. This reminder takes me off the throne.

 

I flip through the pages of my mental notebook, and the entry I find humbles me:

"When he says he didn't sleep well, it's usually due to stress. Don't miss the quiet invitation to minister to him."

 

The mental note - the one that reveals the goodness of being a servant, of serving the King and His Kingdom - breaks down the high walls of my pride.

 

 

Pride stands outside, waiting to be entreated with praise and acknowledgement to come inside.

Humility enters in and sits at the lowest seat, looking to serve and wash feet.

Pride keeps a running score, a comparison sheet of who deserves what and why.

Humility knows we're more like each other than different, in need of mercy and grace.

Pride says, "I expect, I demand, I deserve."

Humility trades all its rights at the foot of the King's cross.

Pride makes self the chief concern, leaving no room to see and understand the experience of others.

Humility does not insist on its own way, but bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things.

 

 

The grace God ushers in at the knees of my repentance frees me from the gripping desire to be served. My eyes get a glimpse of the Servant King, the One who left ceaseless adoration to get low, to bind up wounds, to wash feet. His humility begets my own as I forsake the fleeting honor of man and instead walk with my Savior to get close to the hurting and minister life.

My vision no longer blocked by a bulging 2x4, I take the seat next to my husband and see for the first time the heaviness he's under. Pride blinds our eyes and hardens our hearts, and people don't want to put their burdens down on hard places. Fearing the LORD rather than man cultivates humility, keeping us soft and sensitive to Kingdom opportunities.

And those opportunities? They promote an intimacy better and more lasting than anything we could have wanted in the first place.