The concept of The Greatest Day isn’t new. I’ve heard the phrase a handful of times. I was reintroduced to it during my Bible study’s exploration of Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman, which ended last week. In it, a brush with death causes the main character to re-evaluate his life through a before/after narrative. I have a few Greatest Days, awe-inspiring turning points that lend themselves to new understandings and new beginnings. The day my husband proposed, our wedding day, and the birth dates of our children are all examples of Greatest Days. But, when it comes to my faith, I have another Greatest Day.
I was baptized when I was 9 in an LCMS on Reformation Sunday. I doubt I would remember the date if it was a regular Sunday, but Reformation Sunday is a big deal at the Lutheran church. In the weeks before, my parochial school teacher shared the story of Patrick the Pumpkin and how his light went out due to his sin. I was fearful; and, so I was baptized. I wanted to make sure God’s fingerprint was upon my forehead forever, the kind of mark that wouldn’t wash away.
Then, when I was 20 I chose baptism by immersion out of assuredness. I was baptized at a BASIC retreat, acknowledging His work in me and vowing to turn my life around. And, I did. (I also met my husband about this time; “As for God, his way is perfect!” (Psalm 18:30).)
God has been real to me for a long time. And, I had been a fan for a long time.
January 19, 2015–Blue Monday-–My Greatest Day
I was depressed.
It was January 2015 and I was five months postpartum with our first set of twins. We had five children in total and only one was old enough for school. The twins were 15-months younger than the next in line who was 20 months younger than the only brother who was four years younger than the oldest. Four kids three-and-under and a 7-year old . The four youngest were home with me. Just me. I was always home with them. It was just me and the kids. The hoard of kids. And me. Always. At home.
My husband loved me and loved his family. He worked diligently and quickly became an asset in his workplace, leaving for his job around 7am and not returning home until close to 6pm most nights. I resented the time he spent with other adults. It was deeply painful for me to hear good things about his day because I desired them for myself. I, in my misery, pushed away the thing I most wanted—my husband’s time with me.
In the home, life was uncomfortable, mundane, and redundant. We had three in diapers. I would feed kids, change kids’ diapers, change kids’ clothes, change my shirt, change burp cloths, and wash bottles. Fix. Feed. Fill. Repeat.
Everything was the same. Everything was too much. Everything was not enough. Too much work. Too little time. Too much pressure. Overcooked, underdone, too bland.broken-headed baby was still alive and here with us, I could not grasp the hows and whys. I had proven that I alone could not keep her infant body safe enough to prevent such a terrible accident. I also could not keep a house, and I was a shoddy cook. Also-also on my list of disqualifications, I was an angry and resentful wife.
Why did God pour two more people into my lap for me to care for? I was doing a terrible job with what I had. I was on birth control for several of these children! They were not supposed to happen. Why did God give them to me? Why me?
To say I was in over my head would be an understatement. I was a mess in the flesh. I had limited my showers to once a week; I had to look decent enough on Sundays. I was eating anything I could shove into my mouth; I didn’t care about the taste. I was always behind on laundry and dishes; my husband bought paper plates for a time but then the garbage was constantly overflowing. I was neglecting everything: my family, our home, and myself.
I didn’t doubt Him or what He could do. I doubted me. How could He do this good work in me?
One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to seek Him and find Him.
I felt far from God. I did not feel His closeness. I did not have His perfect peace. But, He hadn’t left me. I soon realized I had left him. I doubted me in His plan and his purpose for me. This was a reckoning. This was a battle over the trajectory of my life, of resetting my internal compass to point to Him in everything. But, I couldn’t see myself as He saw me. I was surrounded by my shortcomings; they stared back at me as piles of clothes on the couch, dishes toppling into the sink, crying children, sticky floors, and extra weight around my hips. It caressed my face every time my husband left for work and arrived home each evening from the job we used to do together, but that I had to walk away from.
It was difficult. I grieved.
His Word says “seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). So, I started seeking. I endeavored to read scripture every day. I asked around, downloaded a few Bible and women’s devotional apps but ultimately decided on something with more punch and fewer frills. I started waking up early with my husband so I could tell him how much I loved and appreciated him, and I took a shower every morning. Before I knew it, I was three weeks into my new routine and it was Blue Monday.
The devotional verse that day was Luke 12:6-7 (NIV):
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
God does not forget them. God did not forget you. This small flock of sparrows that is worth mere pennies, and yet each sparrow in that flock is valuable to God. You are valuable to God. In fact, you have more value than the sparrow to God because you were created in His image (Gen. 1:27). You are very good (Gen. 1:31). You are not forgotten (Matt 28:20). He knows you (1 Cor. 13:12).
I read the verse five times through. Then, I stood over the kitchen sink and stared at the mess in the backyard, at the mess in the kitchen–at the sink once again overflowing with dishes—and I understood that I had value apart from the state of my mess. Or, rather, in spite of my mess. That the mess has value and worth in it. That I was afraid I was worthless if I wasn’t a teacher, if instead I was a messy, over-extended wife and mother. I melted into my mess. I was an utter mess. Messy messy mess mess.
My head dug this verse from my heart:
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV): “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Whatever I do. Whether I wipe butts, change never-ending diapers; whether I make boxed mac ‘n’ cheese everyday of the week; whether I bathe myself once a week or once a day; whatever I do, do it all for the glory of God. All of it. Not some of it. Not most of it. Not all, but. Every single thing.
His purpose for me is in this mess. This mess is where God is glorified. On The Greatest Day, He met me in it.
He will meet you in it, too.