Friday, September 9, 2011

Easier said than lived

I always feel awkward around well-dressed people.  If I know I am going to be interacting with this type of person, and I have time to prepare, I will try to actually put on makeup and change out of my cracker-covered clothes into something a little more presentable.
I had a doctor’s appointment this week (no kids allowed: an outing; a break!)  I actually took out the SAHM ponytail and wore my hair down, a feat typically reserved for (some) Sundays.  Frumpy clothes are great for scrubbing floors, but today I get to leave the house!  I need to look like I belong on the outside world!

As I drove to my appointment, my phone stopped working.  Sigh, I had hoped to not have to tell my husband that I dropped it in the bathtub a couple weeks ago.  But now, he’s going to inspect it, and he’s going to notice the grain of rice that got stuck inside it that night. (A drenched cell phone can indeed be restored by sitting in a bag of rice. At least it was restored for 2 weeks.)

I made it to my appointment on time, and I spoke pleasantly to those professional people who look at me like I am an alien.  (To be fair, in that world I probably am an alien- many people with PCOS have infertility problems- I doubt many have six children.)  My....... ahem.... alternative lifestyle is baffling and even offensive to some people.  And their bewilderment is sometimes baffling and offensive to me.

Blog Pictures, Images and Photos
Judge me and I'll judge you back!
As I got home from the appointment, with my non-working rice-rattling cell phone, I noticed a coffee stain on my shirt.  Had that been there for the appointment too?  Sigh, who am I kidding?  I don’t belong out there! I am not one of you, you professional people of the world!  You go back to reading thick books and saving lives.  I’ll go back to sorting through the fall clothes.

Wouldn't it be nice, indeed, if I could comfort myself by mentally congratulating myself on my own superiority to “all that?”  Wouldn't it be nice, if I could believe that what I do on a daily basis is surely in God’s eyes more important, more beneficial to the church and the world, than what those nice-looking people do?

Wouldn’t it be nice (for the frumpy stay-at-home-mom) if coffee-stained shirts and ponytails really were objectively more God-pleasing than high heels and PHDs?

(Qualifier: In MY case, it is better to forgo the PHD.  But I do not think that qualifies me to judge all cases.)

I know what I do is important, and I know it matters especially to the six dear lives that matter most to me.  But today I notice another weakness in myself:  I notice how easy it is to forget all that, to become discontent with doing what is in front of me, and how easy it is to think I'd rather be doing what is in front of someone else.  And I notice how natural it is to try to soothe that discontentment by imagining my vocation is mysteriously way more important than everyone else's... so important, in fact, that I simply do not have time to fix my hair.

"Love one another," we are told, "and do what is in front of you."  My imperfect attempt at this looks nothing like anyone else's imperfect attempt.  Why does this surprise me?  God never told His children they should all be doing the same thing.  My daily bread tastes different, my daily grace is a different color. 

Father, who am I to judge someone else's servant?  Forgive me for looking to the left and right of me: I have not the wisdom to judge nor the right to covet.  As I return from the complicated outside world into my chaotic home, equip me again to do what is in front of me.  Thank you for daily bread that tastes like coffee, and the sweet breeze of fall, and the laughter of children.  Pour out exactly the grace and help we need in this house do love each other and do what is in front of us.
In the name of Jesus,


  1. Good piece. And it is not just stay-at-home moms who struggle with this. Even some of us who live in that “outside” world go through the same thought process. We couldn’t have our own children, and I always wanted 12 kids. So when I would look at parents of 5, 6, 8, 10 children, I would sometimes think how great that would be.

    And I never noticed coffee stains on the blouses, shirts, pants... because I saw the love in the eyes of the parents. Even when the kids weren’t along.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Emily.


  2. Thank you for the thoughts Rich. I hope people don't notice the coffee stains (and messed up hair, and boogers on the shin), but if they do I always hope they will just accept it as part of my "uniform" for the job I have been given. :)

  3. Emily, the ones who do notice and are disturbed by it need a reality check, and our prayers!! And even now that I'm out in that world after years of being in the other, I am discovering how hard it is to stay stain-free - and I don't have the kids to blame! Maybe old habits die hard... or maybe it's just me! :)

  4. Thank you for linking up on Road to 31. I had to laugh as I read the beginning of this post because I could so relate! Thank you for your message also!

  5. I just read this as I was perusing your past posts. Wow, I can remember looking and feeling exactly the way you described--for about twenty-two years. Now my oldest is 37 and has eight children, five of my others are married and starting families, and my youngest is 15. So when I run errands now, it's usually by myself, or with one of my grown children or one of my 19 grandchildren. And I have the grand luxury of time to put on make up and comb my hair before I go out. Ha! Bless you today, and be encouraged.Some things do get harder as the children grow up, but a lot of things get easier.


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