A New Year and More Joy Up Ahead!

One year ago, give or take a few days, I sat back into the pew, empty hands on lap and a searching face toward the crucifix.

I had confessed all those ugly things. As a mother. As a wife. As a woman searching and broken and spilling over her hurts. I had spoken through tears and a stammering of my sins of my distrust of God--ramming my will, carving its strength wherever I could force it.

Only a handful of others did their quiet listening and talking to Him nearby. The church's empty grandeur swallowed me. The normalcy pounded too.  Parishioners tidied hymn books, vacuumed, rehearsed in a mess of rooms behind us. Outside this swath of sanctity, cars drove by, mist hung in the Saturday afternoon, and a home waited for me to serve dinner and help a little boy pick up his toys--with kindness.

New life was forming inside me but I wasn't ready yet.  My marriage? My motherhood? Balancing work and home life? I was already such a mess. I couldn't be ready in seven months to welcome another child into our family.

I didn't want to be broken. I wanted to be beautiful and together and perfect and doing all the right things when he or she arrived.

But I knew that isn't how it is.

So, I turned my face to the humanity and the humility on the cross, the hurts spilling over, and I said to God:

I'm giving it to you. All of it. I'm trying to do this. I'm so trying to do this. And I just can't. I'm so exhausted by trying to figure it all out. I'm so exhausted by me, by trying so hard, by failing so much, by thinking I know...So I'm handing all of me over. Your turn.

As if some brat and yet sincere, I smiled large on the way to my dirty car.  Of course He can make more sense of what I need to do, who I need to be. Oh sure, there won't be any miracles or signs or overnight conversions to peace, but for once that whole laying it down at the foot of Jesus bit made absolute sense to me because I had finally done it. My crumpled pieces of paper, hundreds of them, inked like my heart on a page, of my story--me trying over and over and falling short--I unloaded them there at the foot of the cross and walked away.

One month later, I cried at the vision of two babies on the sonogram. Alone again. And instead of the piercing bright of the church, the piercing dark of a tiny room to lay on a bed and stare at a screen and cry tears of joy and laughter for two babies who should have been one, two babies to illuminate further my brokenness and imperfections, two babies to cluelessly raise, to gaze at like they brought with them Heaven and yell at them three years later when I've happened upon a smear of poop on all surface options of our bathroom and them moved on to their own giggling disregard in a room of toys on the other side of the wall.


Even God doesn't hand over perfection when we ask for it. I've been asking for 28 years. I know. According to the book of Ashley, he gives you twins to totally free you of it instead.

I thought I was broken and empty in that pew with little left to give.  Then babies. And little sleep. And a toddler on a warpath because of a mommy shooing him away from her throne of nursing a revolving door of babies for months. And me pouring water over Thomas while, without warning, yelling at Paul, "NOBODY... I MEAN, NOBODY!!...NOBODY KNOWS HOW ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY TIRED I AM!". And a doctor's visit with all three boys so awful and embarrassing I came home and asked Paul to hug me and never let go. And a dozen other broken moments that had me putting even more crumpled hopes at the foot of the cross.


And all the normalcy in between that had nothing to do with becoming a SAHM or balancing the needs of three kids. Watching too much t.v. and regretting it. Drinking too much at the first sight of freedom with Paul and I out on the town. Saying the wrong things. Saying more wrong things. Thinking even worse things. Eating enough cookies and other sugar-laden stuffs to warrant an intervention.

But 2013 was so much more than all my failures. Scroll through Instagram and Facebook for my excessive displays of joy, all true and even a mere fraction of how I've felt.  Being a mom and wife, and having a chance to do so right now without a job, has brought me crazy, stupid joy.  Maybe it's because I've got an almost four year old to talk to and learn with every day. Maybe it's because the kids are cute and smile at me any time I ask. Maybe it's because the Church really is right, and our little sacrifices really are our journey to happiness.

But 2013 was really, really wonderful even though there were times when I was so very broken, maybe even because I was so very broken.

I can't help but think if I turn to God and let Him steer some more (goodness knows I really haven't given it all over to Him), He may have more difficulties for me in store, but after this year of feeling like all the hard brought me to this immense, persistent joy, I'm looking up to Him with a smile and a laugh and a chorus of boys at my feet.

Bring it. 


Happy New Year! Here's to another one full, full, full...and happy, happy, happy!!