It’s 6 am and my alarm goes off. Since the sun set, there’s been one night terror, lots of coughing, and the regular 3:30am call for a “drinky” and potty and some late night/early morning chattyness.
I gently lift a little arm off my neck, roll over and hit snooze. An hour later I carefully slide my tired body out of bed (as to not wake the sleeping toddler), put on my tiny-finger-smudged glasses, and tip-toe to the kitchen. I fill my water bottle (because coffee gives me the jitters and that must be part of the fall) and head down the hall. As the floors creak I pray my little people sleep for just thirty minutes longer. I need time with my Jesus before I can love them well.
Bedtime was rough last night, as it often is with kids from hard places. Going to bed is full of unknowns that still haunt them years later. I’m tired. Exhausted really. I love this life but, forthelove, can a woman just get 8 straight hours of sleep!?
I slump into my favorite chair and crack open my Bible. Then I hear it, a stream of urine coming oh-so-close to hitting the bathroom floor and tiny footsteps running toward me. I point to the legos strewn about the living room and bury my head in the pages of this ancient book.
I hear more footsteps, and toilets, and the refrigerator door opening and closing. And before I can read the scriptures or let them read me, before I can write a full sentence in my journal or get on my knees before Him, they’re starving. And cold. And someone peed in their bed and needs help starting the washing machine. And the dog needs out and someone else spilled a cup of milk and our day has begun whether I like it or not.
As a mom, I know prioritizing time with Jesus is important. But I also live in the day-to-day reality of a large family and life not going as planned.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
– Matthew 11:28-30, The Message
God gave this passage to me a few months ago and, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to do with it.
Am I tired? Uh, yes.
Worn out? Are you kidding?
Burned out on the should-do’s of life? Yep.
But Lord, what does it look like to take a real rest?
Come to me.
Get away with me.
I’ll show you.
Walk with me.
Work with me.
Watch how I do it.
Learn from me.
Stick with me.
Do you see a theme here? It’s not about me and what I need to do, it’s about Jesus. We were made to be near Him. Every other role we have graciously been given will be ill-fitting until we are near our Savior.
Ya know what I’ve been noticing about Him? Even Jesus got away from the mess of it all. The gospels record nearly a dozen times Jesus retreated to be alone with the Father. And I’m in tears as I learn how closely Jesus identifies with us and our experiences as moms.
While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him.
They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”
– Mark 1:35, The Message
Does this make you laugh out loud?! Way before dawn Jesus rose to pray in a secluded spot because, forthelove, those disciples were a needy bunch! I’m guessing Jesus had a disciple or two who woke up at 6am no matter what their bedtime and he needed to get up early if he wanted some alone time. (Sidenote: Was Jesus an introvert? #introvertsunite)
When those needy disciples woke up, what’d they do? Sit quietly in their beds? Read books until their leader gave them directions? Pray for the day ahead? Nope. They went looking for him. What are you doing? Don’t you know everyone’s looking for you? Don’t you know we need you? Like, Right. Now. Weneedyouweneedyouweneedyou.
Sisters here’s the thing: He knew, he did. He knew how needy they were and how they hung on him for their very survival. But he also knew in order to breathe life into them, he needed life from his Father first.
So he prioritized it. Lost sleep for it. Made a way for it to happen even when everything and everyone around was clamoring for his attention.
The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.
– Mark 6:31, The Message
Sound familiar? Constant coming and going? No time to eat?
A couple years ago our family was invited to an adoption banquet. I sat next to the host’s wife and just as my delicious Italian meal was placed in front of me, I was asked to stand and introduce our family and share our story. If you know our story, you know it has been completely orchestrated by God, but He didn’t exactly write an abridged version.
After sharing I sat down, my hot meal now cold and the sweet woman sitting next to me said, “I remember your season of mothering. You can either make lunch, eat lunch, or clean up lunch but you can’t do all three.”
She knew I likely hadn’t eaten that day, and Jesus knows those days too.
He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking and, when they found him, clung to him so he couldn’t go on. He told them, “Don’t you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God’s kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?” Meanwhile he continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.
– Luke 4:42, The message
Here they go again, looking for Jesus. Do you ever feel like CROWDS of people are looking for you in your own home? You lock the door to the bathroom to actually go to the bathroom alone, or maybe eat a little chocolate or, heaven forbid, take a shower, and it feels like CROWDS of people come searching for you?
“When they found him, (they) clung to him so he couldn’t go on.” That clingy toddler who just won’t let go of your pants/shirt/necklace? Jesus knows the feeling.
You just need to get on with the dishes or the laundry or make dinner because apparently your children are starving savages who haven’t eaten in days but there is a small human who has clung to you like an infant monkey and will turn into a screaming hyena if put down for even five seconds.
Jesus gets it.
Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
– Luke 5:15, HCSB
You hear that ladies? O F T E N.
Jesus often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. He secluded himself on purpose. He went into places uninhabited by man but fully inhabited by the Father. He submitted himself to God’s presence because it was in His presence that Jesus found fuel and perseverance for the mission God had laid out before Him.
During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. When daylight came, He summoned His disciples, and He chose 12 of them.
– Luke 6:12, ESV
The “those days” this passage refers to are days of Jesus being questioned by people who didn’t understand him.
He was misunderstood because of the way he and his disciples did life.
Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus is teaching his disciples in a counter-cultural way. They aren’t fasting when others are fasting, they aren’t praying like others are praying, they are different and weird and other religious teachers are watching the way Jesus raises up his disciples and they. don’t. get. it. He’s misunderstood and they question him. Can you relate?
“So, you don’t spank them? Have you tried spanking them?”
“Oh, so they sleep in bed with you?”
“He can have just one more cookie right? It’s just a little sugar.”
“You can leave her in childcare. Won’t she be fine? She knows you’re coming back doesn’t she?”
“Is he still having nightmares? ALL kids have nightmares. That’s normal.”
“You talk to their birth mom? Aren’t you afraid she’ll try to come get them?”
Jesus KNOWS what this feels like friends.
Jesus identifies with us as moms! I dare say, he uniquely identifies with us as moms of kids from hard places.
He was isolated, misunderstood, constantly giving, giving, giving. He once fed 5,000 people and forthelove, it feels like we feed the same people 5,000 times a day doesn’t it? They were hanging on his clothes. He has twelve dysfunctional, needy people relying on him for everything.
They talked back, they doubted, they questioned, they betrayed. And He kept on loving and teaching and healing and praying and RAISING them because they were his twelve. He chose them. Oh sisters, He gets our lives. He gets it!
And he got away to be with the Lord so he could keep doing all the things well.
But I can’t get away like that, I’m not Jesus.
No, you’re not Jesus, but if Jesus, fully-God/fully-man, needed time away with the Father how much more do you need it Dear Sister?
I understand your reluctance. Some of you have medically fragile children. Some of you have more kids than your husband has fingers. Some of you have children with insecure attachments. Some of you have ticking time bombs under your roof and the slightest disruption to their lives will set off a war. But, there will never be a “good” time to step away from your family.
Rest is risky. Not because of all of those things, although those are legitimate concerns to pray through. Rest is risky because it pries our fingers off our families and holds them in open hands.
Rest is risky because it is acknowledging there is Someone else is control. That your husband can handle it. That your church family will step in. That you can ask for help.
Rest is risky because it’s letting God be God and admitting we are not. It’s risky because it’s refusing to feel guilty about sitting before our Father and just b e i n g.
Galatians 5:1 says “it is for freedom Christ has set us free.” We can walk in the freedom of rest because we have been set free from the oppression and slavery of thinking we have to have it all together. Free from thinking we are the ones keeping our family on the rails.
We are free to rest because Christ has freed us from ourselves. And free people free people. Sister, if you are a hot mess, your family will be too. And Christ paid too dang much for your freedom for you to be a hot mess.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
He WILL breathe life into our weary souls if we’ll just get away with Him. I don’t know what it looks like to take a real rest, I’m still learning, but I trust Him to meet me where I am and show me. I know that as an adoptive mom, self-care has to be preventative care and not emergency mama-went-coo-coo-care.
We need Jesus and we need each other if we are to do this brutal and beautiful work of healing little hearts well. We cannot give life if we are empty and lifeless ourselves.
If you are empty, come and let Jesus breathe life back into your weary soul. Join me later this month at Together in the Trenches, a retreat designed for weary foster and adoptive moms. Sleep in a bed by yourself, eat chocolate and let other women walk alongside and pray for you.
Together in the Trenches is not an adoption conference. It is truly a retreat with your heart in mind. Would you prayerfully consider joining us? There are fewer than FIFTY spots left and we would love to see YOU there.
Make it a priority Mama. Jesus did it and so should you.