Bryan just returned home after 5 days away at a conference for work (in Texas). As I was single-parenting for all those days, doing my best, failing, keeping on, and dealing with the mini-disasters that always crop up when there are six kids in the mix, I remembered this story from a few years ago when Bryan was doing the single-parent thing and I was away at a conference. This story helped me keep on keeping on, stay faithful, and not despair despite the little disasters.
So, for any of you who need a little encouragement, even when things go awry, READ ON ...
FIFTEEN MINUTES TO A FAT LIP
Life isn’t easy. I know that. But what I often forget is that it’s not supposed to be. But God calls us to persevere even, especially, when life goes awry.
I loaded my bags into the trunk of my car and turned to wave goodbye to my husband and six kids who stood on the porch.
“Have fun, Mom!” they yelled.
“I’ll be back in a couple days.” I blew them kisses then opened the passenger side door and climbed in. My friend, Patti, waited in the driver’s seat.
She glanced at me. “Is your husband ready for this?”
I smiled. “No problem. He’s great.”
“Three days is a long time.”
My smile faded. “It’ll be a piece of cake.” Wouldn’t it?
She cleared her throat, gripped the steering wheel with one hand, and started the car.
As we pulled out of the driveway, I turned and watched Bryan and the kids shuffle into the house.
Three days wasn’t that long . . .
Fifteen minutes later, my phone buzzed. I glanced at Patti in the driver’s seat. “Uh oh.”
“Who’s texting you?”
She snickered. “So much for three days.”
I slid open my phone and glanced at the text. A picture. No words. Just a single photo of our three-year-old boy.
Little Jayden had a crooked smile and tears glistening in his eyes. The right side of his upper lip was three times its normal size.
I texted back. “Is he OK?”
I sighed. Fifteen minutes to a fat lip. What a start to a three day sojourn into single parenting.
Patti raised her eyebrows. “Well?”
I grimaced. “Jayden smashed his lip.”
“I guess these three days won’t be a piece of cake after all.”
She laughed. “Did he fall off that chair again?”
“Probably.” Last time, the kid had perched precariously off a tall dining room chair and leapt off, thinking he could fly. He was like that. We did our best. We taught, we warned, we put down cushions. But sometimes hurt still happened. I’d been there too, watching helplessly as Jayden tumbled down the stairs, hollering for him to slow down right before he fell and skinned his knee on the pavement, and of course, grasping for the tottering chair just milliseconds too late.
I stared at the picture for another thirty seconds, then sent a final text: “No worries. Don’t give up. Three days will be over before you know it.”
Life isn’t easy. Parenting isn’t easy. But God doesn’t call us to easy, in parenting, in marriage, or in life. We do what’s right. We do our best. We rely on God.
And sometimes we get a fat lip anyway.
Because sometimes things go wrong. We fall. We get hurt. Our lips split and swell. God knows that. So, he sends us a text: “Let us not become weary in doing good,” Paul says in Galatians 6:9 (NIV), “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Don’t give up. Even when life goes awry fifteen minutes into a three day journey. Paul said that because he knew life wasn’t going to be easy. He knew there would be times when we do our best and bad things still happen. He knew we’d want to give up, throw up our hands, and say, “What’s the use?” So he tells us to hang in there, don’t quit, we’ll make it if we just persevere. He tells us to keep doing the right thing, even in face of fat lips and teary eyes.
By the time I got home three days later, Jayden’s lip had healed. His smile wasn’t crooked anymore, and his tears had long dried. In the meantime, Bryan had put helmets on kids and wiped runny noses. He’d cleaned up dishes and folded piles of laundry. He’d prayed and laughed and read books and Bible stories. He’d also put on bandages and kissed boo-boos. He’d done good.
He did what we all are called to do: Keep on doing good even when it doesn’t seem to be doing any good. We do what’s right, and we trust that healing will come. Even when our lips swell and we have to smile through our tears. Even when we fall fifteen minutes after the car pulls away. Even when it seems that nothing will be right again.
Don’t give up!