Everything’s getting a little more fuzzy. It all moves a bit slower. I didn’t expect that – when Lily was a newborn, life was surprisingly more flexible. I’d wrap her up in a piece of fabric, sling her on my body and off we’d go. Wherever – the discipleship class, the shop at the bottom of the road, the mama’s business meeting. And when we got home, she’d giggle and goo on the bed. It was pretty simple. Okay, okay, apart from the endless rocking and long nights and marathon feeds and… Let me say life was at least a bit simpler.
Now she has blossomed into a beautiful little person. With thoughts and words and legs that pelt around. With seemingly more needs than ever before – especially the need for my eye contact, the need for my knees to get on the ground with her, my voice to say I can hear you. So life is getting fuzzy and slow and terrifically inefficient. Especially with all those random puddles on the floor (how did you get water there?), crayon drawings on the wall (sorry Iris) and one more rejected meal. Thrown into the mix a baby-producing body and ridiculously hot temperatures and you have one fuzzy, slow, inefficient mama.
There’s no way I can keep racing around life like normal. There’s no way I can care for 400 women’s needs on a daily basis, most of whom don’t really care if you are on your way home or your toddler’s crying, they need a roof, they stood soaking for hours in the rain last night with their toddler and you are the answer. There’s no way I can keep going. Well I think there is a way, but it looks a lot like me being exhausted (especially as pregnancy tiredness melds into breastfeeding / night activity tiredness), no getting on the floor with Lily, and a permanently snapped-at husband. So I am taking a long break from that way – lately it has been tried, tested and found a bit wanting. The new way looks like four months in South Africa – starting in two days – while we have our baby, and then a long stretch when we are back in Mozambique just being a mummy. (And hauling water around, and cooking in a sauna; there is a long list of other fun activities I will be getting stuck into.)
I love being a mummy with all my heart. I am very excited about the next season… But the fuzzy, slow, inefficient part doesn’t come easily. What on earth has happened to ministry? The A4 book, the lives changed, the buzzing phone, the long hours, the dirt on my feet, the feeling like you just might change the world? What can God do with one more dirty nappy in the bin and another round of Peepo?
Look at Mary. Jesus whispers. She literally carried My glory inside her.
It’s the way He chose. A little girl with nothing but the yes-cry of her heart. And there he chose to reside, in all his glory. So somehow – who knows how? – it is possible for this mummy, to carry this glory inside her. It’s possible for me to be the place He chooses to dwell. And through the mundane or the small, He will shine. It’s not the time for my vision to get smaller or be on hold, it’s the time for the vision to come to pass, through my life, every day.
And then I think of the baby, lying there with his mama. Today I read a (wonderful) scholar said Jesus came as a baby because it was the way he could slip through enemy lines. Perhaps, but surely that can’t be the only reason he came like that. Tiny, helpless, sucking at his mummy’s breast. Carried around and vulnerable. Learning to walk, learning a language, dependent on a mummy and daddy’s love. He came to show us something through that. It is something like weakness, like love, like gentleness, like strength, like grace. It is very beautiful.
So while Mary’s model of carrying his glory encourages me, He too encourages me from the manger. As that tiny helpless baby, almighty God wrapped in infant skin. Because the truth is, the more I look after my children, the more I am becoming like them. In my tiredness and my weakness, I am looking more and more dependent. I am looking more a newborn, desperate for nutrition, in need of help, needing a cuddle, needing the simplicity of my heavenly Daddy’s love.
I am a mummy, I am like a baby. I never thought being a missionary – bringing heaven into hellish circumstances, giving my life away – would look so primitively simple and so needy. But no one could have written the love story of the Nativity – so primitively simple, so needy – but God himself.