I bit my lip and started the prayerful negotiation. "God, I can't sabbath this weekend. I have a cold. I'm way behind in all my work. The girls need things. I have to get stuff done. I promise, I'll get back to setting aside a day of rest as soon as I get through this course...and things slow down at school...and the garden isn't growing...and..."
I thank God He made the discomfort of my soul sharp and unrepentant. I knew, even as I haggled, that to disobey I would be saying that I didn't trust God.
I would be saying that I didn't trust God with the work He has given me. I would be saying that I didn't trust God's big picture for my life. I would be saying that I didn't trust God's promises. I would be saying I didn't trust God to be sharing truth when He told us over and over that a day of rest is crucial for our life.
So, I held my breath, shut one eye, and closed my computer at 4pm on Saturday evening.
Jovani was away for the weekend, studying for two major exams this week. The moment I stepped away from my computer the girls swarmed me like happy little bees, full of ideas to watch movies and eat waffles and snuggle in our pajamas.
Immediately I was so glad I said, "Yes." to God.
The next 24 hours were full. We stayed home from church with our suspicious sniffles, had coffee with my dad, made pasta, watched TV, sang songs, and read books. It was beautiful and restful. My heart filled with joy, the joy that comes when you rest in God's promises, no longer required to carry the burdens of life alone.
So far, the week has been blessed by our Sabbath, just as God promised.
What surprises or blesses you when you take a day of rest?
The garage felt cold as wrapped my arms around my waist and sobbed. The last kitten had died. Each one had died the same way. By the time the third and last one grew sick, I had known the end would come,but I had prayed and hoped and kept showing up to care for them. Our best guess is that they either had some sort of birth defect or a contagious virus or bacteria. It hurt so much to watch them die.
Those kittens were an extra burden for three and a half weeks. I had imagined the hard work would be worth it. I had envisioned the sweet, fluffy cats they would grow into. I had enjoyed watching Micaela pet them, Adela feed them, and even my students in my classroom help care for them. Their end hurt. And it felt so frustrating.
It made me ask that old question, “Why did I even try?”
We ask ourselves that question about a lot things. You know the things: the ones that are beyond our abilities, the ones that are beyond our resources, the ones we have never succeeded at, the ones that everyone tells us aren’t worth it or aren’t right for us.
But, then we try anyways.
And sometimes we fail.
In that sad moment, alone in the garage at 1:00am, I felt the darkness of the world swirl around me. Everything felt hard. Everything felt like too much.
God must have been waiting for that moment, for me to fall hard, for me to be still, so that He could hold my hand and promise me that He wastes nothing.
More than that.
He rejoiced in every moment He watched me and my daughters and my students care for small and fragile kittens that He created.
He rejoiced at the lessons in perseverance and tenderness.
He rejoiced at the love those little ones were shown.
He rejoiced at the ways our hearts expanded and accepted our service.
God, celebrated our journey the whole time for three and a half weeks.
There are so many things I’ve done or tried that failed. I have such the terrible tendency to want to grab a big fat sharpie and scribble over the mistake, blotting it out so that it can’t be seen or understood by others. And, so much of my life has been this frantic rushing to work harder so that the blemishes are forgotten or so far in the distance that they cannot be recalled. I don't know if the kittens' end was my fault or not, but I know it was not the outcome I fought for.
Those kittens lived, were loved, and then they died. That was it, it was their whole journey. But, when my desire to throw it all away, blot it out so it doesn’t blemish my heart, I miss out on seeing just how amazing the experience was and how it changed my soul. Another moment in my own journey, one step closer to heaven.
Sorry if this blog post today seems sad. I know you all hurt, too, and wish certain journeys had never been taken. But God is on your journey, He goes before you and He walks with you. He rejoices as you grow. Our souls are more beautiful to Him than any success we could ever have. He loves us. He loves me. He loves you.
We should love ourselves that way too.
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"...and God was already there with me."