I have been posting a few photos on my facebook page recently. We’ve been doing some fun stuff as the boys are off school, and I like to post cheerful shots of the children. It cheers others up, and it cheers me up too, especially looking back over old pictures.
But it bothered me a bit today. If anyone looked at my facebook page they would have no real idea of how my day went. It was a day of crushing anxiety, unhappiness, and frustration. A day when nothing when the way I desired.
It was my daughter’s first birthday. And I feel that anxiety has robbed me of so much joy today. I have done a special first birthday celebration for each of my children, but I was so anxious this week that I couldn’t face cooking for the whole family as I’ve done before. I planned to make a cake, but had to compromise with a Victoria sponge with ready-made icing because I was too exhausted and stressed to make the cake I have made for each of my children in the past.
Then my husband was late home so we ate tea without him and rushed through the birthday cake to get to bedtime. The boys were annoying most of the day and I ended up losing my temper with them at tea time.
Husband had to rush out to unlock the church for prayer meeting and despite being exhausted I was left to put the older child to bed who kicked up a fuss about everything and then coughed until 9 p.m. requiring medicine and gentleness when all I felt like doing was screaming.
I feel dissatisfied with myself, above all, for allowing my feelings to take over and drag the whole day down; and for how I took it out on the children.
So not a very special day.
I’m sitting here trying to piece the day together and find some solace, some peace, some shred of joy. My daughter’s face as she tried chocolate for the first time (a treat we have always saved for their first birthdays). And her excitement when we brought out the cake. “Mmmm!” she said, trying to grab the wafer flowers that decorated the top. She clapped when we sang happy birthday. She loved the wooden bead necklace I bought her. She enjoyed the slide in the park.
I have fresh lilies in a vase which are filling the house with fragrance.
My sons played together in the park without fighting for a full fifteen minutes.
I have a comfortable sofa to sit on. A safe, warm house, a glass of clean water that flowed from a tap. I will lie in a soft bed tonight, and not be afraid of gunfire or famine or disease. I am using a laptop, I have a mobile phone at my side, and more modern conveniences than I can count on two hands.
I am loved by God himself. And while some days it might not feel like it, it is still true. His love is not like my love; rather it is constant, utterly self-giving. It holds nothing back.
And he wants to make me like him. He is slowly chipping away at the flint that surrounds my heart, and is breathing life into the corners, making it beat so that my words are softer, my feelings richer and deeper, my compassion stronger.
He is giving me a love that is strong, that does what is best for the other person even when it costs and hurts.
He is teaching me joy in the hard days.
If your day was like mine – we all get them – breathe in deeply for a moment and pause to look for the blessings that are buried in it, like diamonds in the dark. Give thanks. And hold on – this is not eternity but merely shadows, and God is making you Real so that you can bear the full light of his gaze.