It’s Thanksgiving today and our family is in Dallas celebrating with my in-laws. We’re rarely all together since we’re now spread across the country so this is a special treat. We drove through the night to get here so that our youngest, Emmy, might not scream her head off the entire 10 hours of our drive. It kind of worked… kind of. I mean, is there such a thing as a peaceful road trip when you have a teething sassy pants on your hands? No. No there is not.
I’m a sleeper and I make no apologies about it- I love sleep like a fat kid loves cake. I think about sleep ALL DAY LONG. I long for it and I fantasize about the coziness of my bed. Unfortunately, when I became a mom sleep and I broke up and have had an on again off again relationship ever since. It’s exhausting. I’m like Sleep- listen- we can do this. We can figure it out, you and me. Don’t keep leaving me and returning for rare one night stands. Just stay with me forever and we’ll be so happy together.
Unfortunately Sleep is an unfaithful lover in my life.
I bring all this up to say that driving through the night was probably Sleep’s last straw in our relationship. Goodbye, dear sweet friend- parting is such sweet sorrow. We kind of tried to catch up once we got here, but seriously- I’m a Hot Mess Express without sleep and it’s totes obvious.
This season of motherhood has left me WORN OUT more than I knew I could be. It’s better than it was just 8 months ago but losing out on this much sleep year after year has morphed me into a completely different person. When I actually get good rest I feel like I’ve put on my old, chipper self like it was a pair of comfy jeans. And after stints of no sleep I feel like a busted can of biscuits when I try squeezing back into my “self” and eventually I just give up and sit there like a freaking zombie.
Some people are just drowsy or lethargic when they get tired but not me- I’m like all out irate and a monster. I’m raw and I cry a lot and it only takes one little thing to set me off into a fit of rage. Kind of like the toddler I’m currently raising. Cool. Cool cool cool.
I’ve learned something in the midst of that, though- that Jesus always meets you in your rawness. It seems counterintuitive for Him to do that, like shouldn’t you be in a right- or at least coherent- state of mind to hear His voice and understand what He’s saying to you? That’s what I’d prefer. I’d love to be able to hear Him right when I want to so I could write it down and really get a minute to process through it. Really soak it up and let it sink in. But that is not my life. Instead, Jesus speaks to me at the moments when I’m boarding the Hot Mess Express with a one way ticket to Anywherebuthere.
We were having a family devotion time this morning and I remembered something beautiful- we’ve been given a spirit, inside our little bodies, that can commune with the Living God. When we’re tired or angry or lacking, the Holy Spirit Himself can speak to our spirits and stop our bodies in their tracks.
During our devotion, a song started playing through my mind and I couldn’t get it to stop. The funny thing is I don’t even like this song. I mean I do, I guess, I just can’t sing it to save my life. The beginning goes a little something like this:
It’s as if the writer has looked upon all that God has made and his soul just begins to sing to Him. Like it’s a reaction he can’t even control. I just love that.
When I think about my life, there have been definite seasons when my heart’s response is similar. Situations that have taken me out of my struggle and brought such profound beauty to God’s love for me. There have also been seasons that seem quite the opposite- where I’m struggling to even pray let alone burst out in song.
I find myself in the latter season much more than the first. Especially in this season of motherhood where my “time with the Lord” is few and far between and never looks the way it used to. Before I was married I remember a time when I could not get enough of the Word. I was reading my Bible for 2+ hours every morning and just soaking it all up. And if I’m being truly candid right now, I can’t tell you the last time I read more than a paragraph in my Bible let alone a whole chapter.
I knew back then that there would be a season when I couldn’t read my Bible for hours a day. And ta da- here I am. I harvested so many verses and hid them away in my heart. And because of God’s goodness, He reminds me of them now when I need them most. As a former legalistic teenager this concept seems lazy. But as a mama with some years under her belt, I now understand how kind Jesus really is.
It’s not like it’s a surprise to Him that I never sleep. He knows. He sees me running around frantically all day and you know what? I truly don’t believe that God is a guilt-tripper. There. I said it. There is so much guilt tripping in the Christian community sometimes and I’m just over it. Does God love us and want to spend time with us? Yes. Does He offer us life, wisdom and joy through His Word? Absolutely. Does He desire complete communion with us everyday? Definitely. But does He guilt you into it time and time again? Nope. Not a chance, sister.
Now I definitely believe that God calls out to us, longing for our hearts to turn towards Him and spend time with Him. That’s who He is- the Lover of Our Souls. After I had Ella, I struggled with what my relationship with the Lord looked like. It had changed somehow, but I wasn’t really sure how or if that was ok. What I learned was this: there’s spending specific time with Lord and there’s inviting the Lord into your whole day.
Can you do both at the same time? Sure. But we shouldn’t limit God’s presence and voice to our allotted 30 minutes with Him. Instead, the bible calls us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And as a mama bear- this verse could not be sweeter. I need Jesus, friends, like FOR REAL. I need Him when I am a grump in the mornings. I need Him when my kids won’t stop fighting or whining. I need Him when it’s dinner time and I’d rather die than cook a meal. And OH MYLANTA DO I NEED HIM AT BEDTIME.
While I haven’t been great at reading the Word in this season, I am hearing God’s voice more than ever before. I talk to Him a lot throughout the day, in a sentence or two here and there. And finally, I think I’m starting to understand how your soul can just break out in song to God.
I’ll be cleaning our ever-messy house when I feel my soul start to rise up and tell me to change my negative mind. I hear my soul sing when Emmy kisses my cheek after screaming for 2 hours at 3am; reminding me of God’s answer to my desperate plea for her. I hear my soul proclaim God’s faithfulness in my marriage when I’d rather be frustrated instead. Our spirits, designed completely BY God FOR God to use as an instrument of communication to us, His kids. Amazing.
What does your relationship with Jesus look like right now, friend? Is it boxed up- only letting Him into one area? Or is it permeated with His love and voice? Our spirit is just like a muscle- if we work it out, it grows. If we ignore it, it fades. Maybe you’ve never heard the voice of God before because you’ve never nourished your spirit. Well friend, it’s time. It’s time to open your heart to Him, to ask Him to join you in every part of your day. It’s time to let Him out of the box you’ve kept Him in and ask Him to seep into every inch of your life. It takes practice, for sure. But little by little, inch by inch, when we let Him into our lives He grows our spirits. When our spirits grow, we can hear Him more clearly. And when we can hear Him more clearly, we can hear our souls begin to sing to Him– our Creator and our Friend.
It’s time, friend. It’s time to trust Him with an area you’ve never trusted Him with before. It’s time to dive in and seek Him more than you ever have before. It’s time to give up your control and ask Him to be the boss instead.
And then you’ll feel it: the faint but distinct flutter in your soul- the Living God speaking to you through the spirit He gave you. Stretch out your hand, take His. Dive in. And sing, soul. Sing!