I can hear my husband reading Paul his bedtime story in the living room. Paul chose the children's gospel from Ignatius press. Really we're mostly a SpongeBob and potty jokes kind of family, but despite us God is doing His work anyway, I guess.
Mary isn't feeling well. A cold turned into a little tummy trouble and now the world's best sleeper isn't sleeping. So instead of being in bed, she is on her big sister's lap next to her big brother, listening to her daddy read.
So often I feel like I'm not doing enough. Do more, do more, do more. If there is anyone accomplishing fewer things than I am, I say "well of course! Look at _______ that she has to deal with. Obviously no one can fault her." But I, well, I have no excuse. Of course. But the people accomplishing more I say "look at ______________ that she has to deal with yet she is still capable of doing all these things. What is wrong with me? My gosh I need to crack the whip."
Then I am anxious and fret and scurry and sigh. And maybe what could have been a nice evening of reading on the sofa turns into an evening of everyone worrying about the next moment mom is going to get all like that again and insist we be accomplishing something tangible every minute of every day.
I don't want to be the parent the kids dread. You might know the feeling. You hear those footsteps and you think "Well, here it comes. Whatever it is I'm doing, it's probably the wrong thing." Trust me. I am thisclose to being that parent sometimes. Maybe I already am.
The other day I was praying about having a word for the year. A prompting from the Holy Spirit to stay focused as we navigate the who-knows-whats of the coming months. Last year my word was "patience" and boy when that word popped into my head I KNEW it was the one. But this time it was different. This time a word came to me and I brushed it aside. Obviously it was silly. "How could someone even work on a thing like that? Isn't that something God GIVES you? I'm praying for something that *I* am in control of." (oh, I can see those eyebrows raising. My own head is shaking as I write this out because....you know...hindsight.)
What is Jesus always saying to his friends? PEACE be with you. To everyone He loves, and that is everyone, He says "Peace." He doesn't say "stress" or "anxiety" or "control." Surely it something that God offers us, yes, surely. But we have to accept it. As in all things, we must be willing participants. In order to actually be at peace we must say "Okay, sure. That does sound pretty good."
And then I have to stop careening about the house looking for things to complain about. I have to stop overlooking our daily bread because I'm busy worrying about the bread five months from now. I have to admit that it's okay for sick kids to stay up a little and listen to a story and for healthy kids to waste time on a foolish project or reading yet another book about an amazing horse that does amazing things and amazes everyone.
God tells me to be at peace because that is what He actually wants. It's not some kind of weird passive-aggressive trap or something. And I know that I, especially in a baby year, really need the extra reminder to accept His peace. To hand Him my worries and my frustrations. To put aside my fears. To cling to my family in the everyday. And just...be at peace.