Mothering, Studying God

the horrible, horrible day

Julie / September 22, 2012

I love my kids. They’re awesome. I live an awesome, blessed, charmed, amazing, incredible life. I am a happy person.

But. Every once in a great long while, there is a bad day.

Today was a bad day, and it isn’t even over yet.  I feel like crap, I’m exhausted beyond belief thanks to Baby Not Sleeping and Toddler Not Sleeping and that’s just the first two kids.  I just spent three whole hours trying to convince my girls to go down for a nap. And failed.  That’s emotionally trying for everyone, and it means I didn’t get my precious little thirty minutes a day of breaktime.  (Thirty minutes = two hours of naptime minus the hour and half that the baby is lately not asleep.) There has been disobedience and there have been messes.  There have been conflicts and trials and external pressures.  It has been a Very, very, horrible horrible no-good bad day.

Where is the grace?

I want God to surprise me with a phone call bearing great news or a message in my email that something fantastic has happened.  Or an encouraging, generic note.  You know, just something to get my day back on track, because it’s been so bad that I can’t figure out how to get back to happy on my own.  I’ve been trying for the past six or seven hours and I just keep sinking farther into despair as my circumstances continue to devolve.

God could fix it all in a blink.

And sometimes God does fix my bad days.  Sometimes He fixes our bad jobs, our bad houses, our bad churches–whatever we find discontentment in, sometimes He fixes it.  He’s fixed a lot for my family in particular, and I don’t want to minimize that.  We have plenty of room in our lives for bad days.  Part of me wants to just sit here and dwell on how much worse other people have it, and find my contentment in that.  At least I’m not starving, or cold, or dying, or mourning.

It feels empty, though.  It may be effective to remind myself of how blessed I am, even on these horrid horrid days, but I think it’s human nature to feel discontented when our lives get away from our normal, no matter how bad everybody else has it.  I don’t think the point of hardship is to sit and ponder how superior our situation is to our fellows’.  Rather, I think there are at least two things we should take away from “bad days:”

First, that they build character.

…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)

I know a “bad day” of housekeeping and cooking and childrearing is hardly “suffering,” by any objective measure, but in Mommyland it ranks pretty bad.  Some of these days like that have actually been more depressing and hard to deal with than the days when Seth has called and told me his department at work was closing and he was losing his job.  Bad days of home hit me where I’m at.  At any rate — the bottom line is, these “bad days” get easier the more they happen.  They build character.  One day a whiny teething child is the end of my little world; a couple of years later, I don’t even notice that they’re teething!  My meter has changed.  I’ve developed Mommy Character.  Apparently, I still need more!  But that’s what these bad days are doing.  They’re building endurance.  Building wisdom.  Building hope.  Teaching me to trust God, and to still pray even when it seems fruitless.

Second, bad days make me long for heaven.

…they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16 ESV)

There are no bad days in heaven.  There are no bad days in heaven!!!  I can sit here and think very, very long about how happy I will be.  There will be no fights in heaven.  No giant unconquerable messes made by one-year-olds who don’t know any better.  No bickering.  No ungratefulness.  No confusion.  Nothing at all to drag us down and kill our joy.  All this crap we deal with here, whether it’s giant horrible suffering or itty bitty trouble, it’s still here because of sin and living in a world that is fallen.  So what we do is thank God that we’re only here for a moment and that we were made for heaven!  We have trouble because we are not there yet.  We hate trouble, even little trouble, because we were created for perfection.

And so I sit here and long for a better place, knowing that it’s coming one day soon.  Waiting.  Thanking God for the trouble that makes my heart eager for Him.  Asking that in the meantime, He’ll help me make the most of my bad day, teach me endurance, and help me not to make my day even worse by adding my own sin to the deluge.  And then eventually, inevitably, night always comes, and tomorrow.

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