Eat, Drink, Enjoy

My days often go like this: wake up (groggily and unenthusiastically), work out, drink coffee, make lunches, get kids ready, drink more coffee, go to school, frantically try to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished, drink more coffee, leave some things left undone on my to-do list, go home, make dinner, do the bathtime and bedtime routine, clean up, then plop onto the couch weary and spent.  Then I stay up too late to cherish a few minutes with my husband, then fall asleep only to wake up and do it all. over. again.

As a pastor I know I’m supposed to find God everywhere and be full of the joy of Christ, and I am much of the time.  But I also get so caught up in the craziness of daily life that I lose sight of God and joy.  I can only think about what has to be done next.  So here’s what I’m learning in these early years of parenthood: nothing kills the joy of Christ like going, going, going without stopping for a holy breath.

Ecclesiastes is known as Wisdom literature, and it certainly is that.  But I tend to think of it as “Swift Kick in the You-Know-What” literature.  Because Ecclesiastes tells the cold, hard truth about life that everyone else wants to qualify or tip-toe around.  And when I read this gem this morning, it resonated so deeply with my whirlwind of a life:

“This is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work.” Ecclesiastes 3:13

All of the aspects of my days I listed above are nonnegotiable.  I must do them to care for my family and to serve my church.  But what is negotiable is the attitude in which I do them.  If I’m always going, going, going – trying to do the next thing so that I can get through the day only to do it all over again – then I am smothering the joy of life that is God’s very gift to me.  But if I stop, take a breath, and see the beauty of life in the mess and the chaos, then I can see this season of life as the gift that it is.

Yesterday we had an especially busy day that consisted of church, a potluck lunch, no naps, and a birthday party.  By dinner time our kids were done.  But we all had to eat.  So the poor folks sitting near us in the restaurant while we tried to contain our kids and force feed them chicken and french fries had to put up with their crying, squirming, and whining.  Kevin looked at me as Madeline was rubbing her greasy fingers all in my hair trying to climb out of the booth, and he smiled and sang in his deepest, best country voice: “You’re gonna miss this…”

He, of course, was quoting from Trace Adkins’ heartwarming song called “You’re Gonna Miss This” about cherishing every moment of this beautiful life…

“You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back.  You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.  These are some good times, so take a good look around.  You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.”

Kevin and I struggle with what kind of spiritual disciplines work in the life of young parents.  Perhaps one answer is found in a combination of Trace and Ecclesiastes…it is a spiritual discipline to take a good look around and see the gift of  God in the mess of life.  So today I will do my best to eat, drink and enjoy the fruit of my hard work.  That’s not a bad way to live.

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