The constant presence and care needed by a baby makes me crave quiet in a way not normal to me; as an introvert, this is saying a lot. I plan my days around morning nap time, that magical hour-and-a-half, boiling water for coffee before I even take her upstairs so I can maximize the time.
I’ve pulled at least a dozen books from the shelves recently, because I had desire to read them; they are laying at random spots around the house. One by the TV, a few in the dining room, one or two more stacked next to the guitar. I pick them up and trail them to a new spot, thinking I might be able to crack them and soak up some words, but really I’m just playing a game: the one that used to be by the TV is now on my desk upstairs, and which one will be where when the urge to open it comes? I have no idea. I’m no good at creating games.
I’ve only had time for one book recently, and that is the Bible. I lay that sleeping cherub in her crib, close the door, and dash downstairs to grind beans and pour water. I’ve made the orange chair in the living room “my place,” recently. It faces the front windows, and if the lighting is right, I can see bugs dancing around our trees through the smudges made by dog noses and little hands. This is where I spend naptime, the thing I’d almost forgotten was so necessary until this latest babe came around.
When I say I only have time for the Bible, I am not being pious. I am saying, literally, the Bible and waiting on God has become essential to my daily survival. I’ve been feeling worn down, battered by the little things of life, and my go-tos were not cutting it. Even before this, I was still in the Bible, still attempting to live its words; but I’ve stumbled upon a season in which I simply cannot live my daily life without being refreshed with God’s presence, without remembering why I am here and what my task is, without being girded by truth. I think I waited til the last possible moment to give in: I wanted my problem to be diet-related, or perhaps a lack of sleep. But it was a lack of God.
Sometimes you can look and feel fine, with just enough dryness of heart to make you wonder, “Why doesn’t the beautiful sky pierce me today?” And then, after an infection or two, some small problems with kids, and a string of grumpy days, you find that you are just not. okay. And why? How did this happen? You are thirsty. Drinking from the well of life takes discipline. It’s not an easy thing to admit. It’s sometimes more fun to scroll facebook.
For me, it was the anger — the little things would really irk me, and I would wonder, “Why was there no patience for that? It was just something so small.” And then the fear — over what would happen, and when, and how would I make it? Next, an unhealthy turning inward, unable to think of the things and people that were not ME. So I looked deeper, and there I found dryness. And a host of unconfessed sins. I clutched Isaiah 30:15 as my map back to living waters: “For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling.” Jesus, make me willing.
So today, legos and other toys litter the floor. Dishes topple over in the sink. The vacuum cleaner is still plugged in and lying in the back hallway. Cardboard box creations and forgotten science experiments find permanent homes in the playroom. Emails go unsent, the dog is unwalked. Picture books lie everywhere — literally, one on every surface of the house, half opened, corners folded, wearing the look of story love. My house is in seeming shambles; but I’m building more important things, cleaning the places of my heart that need tending. This is hard, but necessary work.