I’m tired. My back is chronically aching from shushing, cuddling, and hauling my 3-month-old bundle of joy or cleaning the urine off the toilet rim and the ring around the tub for the umpteenth time or folding laundry. My eyes are puffy and rimmed red from the Promethean hamster wheel of life lately.
I’m also regularly chiding myself for not doing enough, because I am watching mothers of multiple children holding down full-time jobs, producing regularly in ministry, and who are probably having the best sex of their lives with their adoring husbands after working out their amazing post-baby bodies and whipping up organic feasts. They probably have “Proverbs 31:10-31” tattooed to their backsides.
Me? I’m tired. What’s worse? God hates women like me.
I mean, doesn’t He? He only loves the Perfect, Producing women (He’s the Vine, and we are the branches, and so “much fruit” must mean a fertile womb or a flourishing ministry or a freakishly perfect home, right?). I went to seminary, after all, and so I know the kind of woman who is lauded: she cares for everyone, she never sleeps, she bakes like a fiend, and she never says no. And she can play the piano. And she’s blonde.
What is productivity? It’s certainly not holding a baby for 14 hours a day. Or cleaning a bathroom that will only get dirty again. Productivity cannot be equated with the obstacles, the ins-and-outs of everyday life. The stuff that’s not pretty; like serving your husband breakfast when he just hurt your feelings, or cleaning poop off of your favorite shirt, or just smiling and walking away when someone tells you that you look chubby. Producing must be spectacular and showy (but humble, of course). Producing must be achieving big, hairy, audacious goals. Since I have considered it an achievement just to shower regularly these days, God must hate me.
Of course, you don’t have to have a Proverbs pericope tattooed anywhere on your person to know that everything I just said is just plain wrong. But if you’re like me, you beat yourself up about “producing” anyway.
I am so glad for biblical stories of what I like to call The Heralded Mundane; the widow minding her business and dropping her mite into the temple offering plate (Mark 12:41-44); Hannah heading to the temple, again, to pray, again, for a son (1 Samuel 1:6-11); Mary sitting at the feet of her Teacher instead of doing the dishes (Luke 10:38-42); Jesus sharing a meal with his closest friends (Luke 22:14-20). These stories remind me of the supernatural work of God occurring at the dinner table, in the hour of need, at times of hopelessness or at times of just being able to sit and soak rather than teach and do.
Could it be that God is at work in you and me, even in the mundane? Could it be that He wants to work in our places of fatigue and want, rather than in our areas of confidence or comfort? Could it be that He doesn’t hate me after all?
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 convicts me and assures me at the same time when I get this tired: “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. [Oh…so I don’t have to be a Perfect Producer. Cool!] We are experiencing trouble on every side [Okay…not cool.], but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. [And this truth is worth the sacrifice.]”
It still doesn’t feel good to be tired, but when God is using the challenges of the mundane to show Himself faithful and powerful, it’s not in vain. And just like He saw and utilized and honored the everyday sorrows and faithfulness of His people before, I can rest assured that He sees me now. With or without the Proverbs tat.