“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7**
It had been eight days since I last saw him. This season of work travel and children scattered far and wide and aging parents has us stretched thin and missing each other. He found me upstairs in the furthest corner of the house, away from the late evening hum of teenagers.
"You look worried," he said.
He hasn't seen me in over a week and the first impression is one of worry. First, that's very perceptive. Second, oh dear, where is the peace that passes understanding? I am a creature of habit. I like to settle into rhythms, to work out kinks, to make life run along familiar, predictable tracks.
But it doesn't.
Just as we figure out one stage of life, we move to the next. Life shifts and lurches and sometimes the fault beneath my feet nauseates me as it violently rocks. I want to make sense of all of it--to understand. And I want to be understood.
I have more than twice the number of children as my friends with large families. This life of extravagant abundance of souls doesn't look anything like the fundamentalists of my 20s and 30s said it would. Those lies reverberate some days: What's one more? There's always room; babies don't need much. They can sleep in a dresser drawer, padded soft. If you're diligent and organized and intentional enough, the Lord will bless your efforts and you will meet all their needs, all the time. And my favorite: Homeschool them. Invest the time--all the time--when they are little, you won't have any of society's teenage ills under your roof as they grow. We know that's not true.
One more is one more. And even when it is added to six or seven or eight, it is another whole person on whom all the many aspects of good parenting must be bestowed. I want to offer to my friends who have two children and seem bewildered by my present challenges the explanation that everything they do for theirs--everything they feel--I do just as much with each one of mine.
A baby might be made comfortable in a softly padded dresser drawer turned into temporary makeshift cradle for a very little while, but when he is fourteen years old and six feet tall, he needs a bed. Oh, and there will come a time that he will outgrow his shoes every three months, so it's a good idea to start saving for that right around the time that you transition him out of the dresser drawer.
I love this life. I wouldn't trade a single moment of those 81 months of pregnancy (all those overdue babies making up for the one who came three months early, so that my average is just about nine average gestations). I wouldn't trade 22 years of diapers, sometimes three children at a time. And I definitely wouldn't trade more than twenty continuous years of nursing babies. I've loved every hour spent sitting next to a child as she figures out how to make sense of letters printed on a page. And yes, I've loved the hours behind the wheel of a car, with a teenage boy as my front seat companion. It turns out that I've gotten quite the musical education by allowing them to choose the station and spin the dial as I drive to soccer or basketball. We moved from Matchbox 20 to Blink 182 to Brad Paisley to Taylor Swift to Ed Sheeran--each boy in succession tuning me to himself at the radio controls. It's been quite a ride.
But I thought I'd have it all figured out by now and instead I'm still surprised that the sheer numbers dictate that nearly every day, there will be something new to wrestle. I want to understand. I want to flip to the end of the book and read the last chapter so that I can let go of the tension and relax into the middle of the story.
And I want to be understood.
Me, the crazy lady down the street with all the kids.
I am worried. Times nine.
And He tells me to be anxious for nothing. Nothing.
Come; crawl up on My lap. When you are tired of being the grownup and when you just really want someone to take care of you, turn your face expectantly to Me and see that I hold peace. Make supple your heart. Soften. Ask. Come humbly to Me and know that I see you.
I know your needs and I understand them perfectly.
Already, I know.
And I will stand guard.
Are you worried? Can I pray peace for you, too?