I lie next to her in the dark. It’s not the first time this week I’ve heard her pitter patter of feet shuffle into my room, not the first time I’ve felt her little arms around mine as she crawls into my bed. She’s been having nightmares, afraid of the dark. And so again, I stumble out of bed blind, and lead her back to her duvet. We snuggle under together. Her bed was cheap and the mattress reminds me why. My 38-week-pregnant stomach sinks into the springs, the tiny one inside kicks. I gaze on her face, watching for her to eyes to close. For her body to finally rest.
I am exhausted. I have an hour or so in this little bed so I plan my next day. What should I do tomrorow? What’s the best use of my time? I try to think of how to be effective, how amidst dishes and nappies and hazy exhaustion I can offer Him something, how in the middle of the stretch of motherhood I might stretch a little further so the kingdom can advance through me.
And then there is a little heart voice that whispers in the dark. What if this is the holiest thing you give Me all week? Body aching, eyes blurring, stroking her head in pure exhaustion, silencing her fears with love. And I look like Him. But I nearly missed it.
I’m learning how I’ve divided life into kingdom and normal. Kingdom is preaching and teaching, feeding and healing. It’s non-profits and rescue houses and worship nights and it’s out there, on the streets, with whoever I’ve decided the broken are. Normal is wiping counters and correcting her attitude and kissing her head at night. And I’m learning how I thought I had to rush through the normal – even in all its mighty beauty – to get to the kingdom, in order to be used by Him. And slowly over the years, He is walking through my days and washing everything new. He is blurring the lines I drew with His water and the colours run. Whoever accepts a child in My name, accepts Me, He says. And I start to reimagine what kingdom means.
So I start the day with my anointed work. I change their bottoms, I smell their hair. I throw clothes in the machine, I stir hot porridge, I read His words out loud. I open the door to whoever comes. I see the sunshine and sit outside to watch them play, and when it rains we huddle under a blanket and put the cheap red heater on, blasting heat on our faces.
See. I read this one word during my morning quiet time. It’s what Jesus said to the blind man who asked for his eyes to be opened. The English translation writes that Jesus said “receive your sight” but the Hebrew word is one pure word – see. I feel Him tell me the same thing. See. You’ve been blind to Me, moving through your days. You think I’m out there, but I’m also in here. See. I am learning to open my eyes. My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways. See.
Part of it, maybe, is surrendering to being part of the body. I think deep down I want to be the hero – the one who set up this charity, the one who saved this person’s life, the one who is in the middle of the action and redemption and the story. And when He says, yes, there is a magnificent place for you at the table, and a big part of it is mothering, it feels like I’m breaking off that opportunity to be at the forefront. I won’t be the hero, I will a limb of the body. The beautiful body of believers moving in one direction, redeeming and healing together. And I am healed too. I get to look at Him just as I am, weak and translucent, radiating His glory. Because glory is all that’s left for me to behold when I’ve taken my eyes off earthly prizes.
Sometimes motherhood wraps me in her arms and cuddles me – like the times Willow kisses my cheek without stopping, the times Lily giggles with that wrinkled nose. And sometimes it strips me raw, and I can’t imagine giving any more. Regardless, it’s a holy chamber. Sometimes joy and golden light. Sometimes weakness and surrender. I give and give and give and give. What if this is the holiest thing you give Me all week? My thoughts are not your thoughts. See.
I am opening my eyes. I think of the widow. The one Jesus saw, as she quietly put her tiny coins into the temple treasury. She must have thought it was small, insignificant, not going to reach very far. His eyes beheld her. He raised His voice to everyone who could hear. She gave out of her poverty. She gave all she had to live on.
I think of this heroine of the faith. How she gave everything she can, and how His eyes of love fell on her and He was captivated. And as my body moves slowly though these days, as I wonder how I can honestly manage to raise these children, as I look outside and question if my offering is worthwhile, I give all I have to live on. I give out of my poverty. And His eyes of love fall on me too.
I wrote this two weeks ago. I now sit typing in the dark, with my newborn babe lying asleep in the basket next to me. When I think about how much I love this little one I feel like some breath was taken out of my lungs. And now, what was a once-a-night rising for my oldest is now a lot more. I am rhythmically up every two or three hours, wiping him, winding him, giving him milk, laying him down to rest. It’s 2.30am and I hear a train pull into Nyanga Junction – I am comforted that someone somewhere is also awake and doing meaningful work. His breath slows, his sucking falls into sleep. I hold his tiny, warm frame. No one sees. I gently lay him down, into the mattress. I give all I have to live on, and I will feel my poverty at 7 a.m. when everyone wakes. And His eyes of love fall on me too. Kingdom, pulsating through the darkness, and lighting up my eyes. Jesus, I am beginning to see.