It was a black, gloomy day. I’m not even sure why except that I hadn’t slept well for many days.
We had just taken an absolutely grueling (but beautiful) road trip to AL — thirty of us — and had been home for less than a week. I was still recovering from that and hadn’t even finished unpacking.
I was exhausted and aching for rest, but unable to shut off the continual flow of adrenaline that had been needed to pull off such an adventure. It always kicked into high gear just as I was trying to go to sleep, and I was dragging a little more with each passing day.
My mind was a swirling mass of chaos that morning. Mostly stress and guilt about things that needed to have been done ages ago, but that I hadn’t managed to get done yet. And the hammering, annoying, relentless to-do list pounding away in my head was making it hard for me to breathe. Appointments that I needed to make; emails that I needed to answer; the 7000+ emails in my inbox that needed to be cleaned out; ordered items that needed to be returned; teens who still needed to learn to drive; prep that still needed to be done for Orphan Sunday presentations. On and on and on the list went. To infinity.
I walked into my bathroom to drop some stray pony-tail holders into the top drawer. When I opened that drawer this is what I saw.
When did this drawer turn into such a catch-all mess? I hate disorder in my closets and pantry and drawers. But no would would ever know that by looking in those places now. Most of them look kind of like this these days. When did I so totally lose control of my life? Was it with child number 12? Or 16? Or 21? I couldn’t remember when exactly it had happened.
I stood looking at that drawer and all of my frustration came bubbling to the surface. All I could think was, “THAT’S my life!! I’m a junk drawer!”
Tears stung my eyes as I slammed the drawer shut, pulled all of my self-pity up around me like a warm blanket and walked back into my bedroom.
The air felt stuffy in my room as I began wrapping birthday presents for our newest son who was turning seven that day. This would be Nolan’s first birthday as part of our family. I wanted to make it perfect for him, but couldn’t shake the black cloud hanging over everything.
I opened some windows and tried to pray, but the words wouldn’t come. As I turned my back on the windows overlooking our backyard and went back to wrapping, I heard a tiny voice yell excitedly, “Mommy!! Mommy!!”
I wearily walked back to the window and looked down at our giant-sized jungle gym. Five-year-old Roslyn had apparently looked up just in time to spot me at the window, and she just couldn’t resist calling out to me.
I waved to her, and she yelled happily again, “Mommy, yook at Yiyan!”
My little Roslyn was standing on her paralyzed legs, aided by her leg braces, and pushing her even more paralyzed sister Lilyan in a swing. They were both giggling and full of joy.
As always, once the other kids noticed that I was there, a whole cascade of “Mommy watch me’s!” began gushing forth.
Jaden, also five, yelled, “Mommy! Look how high I am!” as he proudly showed me how he has learned to swing himself in spite of the 110º curve in his spine.
Nolan called out to me, waving wildly, “Hi Mommy! I love you, Mommy!”
My sweet Kathryn called up with a smile, “Mommy! I’m climbing in the fort.”
And in that moment, something happened.
You know how, when you’re flying on a cloudy, rainy day and it’s dark and the raindrops smear across the little oval-shaped windows as the plane climbs and climbs through the storm? And then sometimes, very suddenly and with no warning at all, you burst out above the clouds and the light is shining so brightly that it’s almost blinding? And you can look out the little windows and see the dark clouds below you and you know that the storm is still there on the underside of those clouds, but not up where you are?
That’s what it was like. This instant flash of brightness and the ability to momentarily see above the gloom of the day and look out over the big picture.
Although, I’m never unaware of the fact that these children are mine through the miracle of adoption, most of the time, we just live normal life. I’m their mommy and they are my babies. I care for them and train them and love them and get annoyed with them. And they come to me for help and test me and love me and annoy me. But for that moment, I was powerfully struck by the amazingness of the whole thing.
Each of these babies grew inside another woman’s body as she went about her life in some unknown corner of a different part of the world. And then, once they were fully formed, they exited her body and came into our lives. And now, they call me Mommy!
I am 100% fully and completely their mommy! I am 56 years old and a grandmother many times over, but I still have five- and six-year-olds who call me mommy and really mean it.
For that moment, this profound picture took my breath away and lifted me above the funk I was in.
It only lasted a moment. It didn’t take away the fatigue-induced cloud that was engulfing me. The gloom returned and stayed with me the rest of the day (although it didn’t prevent our Nolan from having a perfect birthday just as I had hoped.)
But God had given me that moment of light and reminded me that there was a very different picture up above the clouds currently surrounding me.
Being able to glimpse, again, the beauty of the story that He’s writing was something for me to hold onto while I waited for the clouds to pass. And it reminded me of another one of my favorite quotes:
“A Christian may for many days together see neither sun nor star, neither light in God’s countenance, nor light in his own heart, though even at that time God darts some beams through those clouds upon the soul; the soul again, by a spirit of faith, sees some light through those thickest clouds, enough to keep it from utter despair.”
~ Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)
There will always be cloudy, gloomy days. Sometimes we’ll know what causes them, and other times, they will just sneak up on us with no hint of their origin. But God is still our same loving and perfect Father behind the clouds, and He has promised to carry us to the end and to write our stories to completion.
And sometimes He will “dart some beams through those clouds upon [our] souls” so that we can “again by a spirit of faith, [see] some light through those thickest clouds.”
I’m so thankful for this!
I will probably be a junk drawer for the rest of my life now. But I will also be called Mommy for the rest of my life. And I can see the beauty in that even on the darkest of days.