When Your Life Feels Wasted

When Your Life Feels Wasted

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

My mom has this funny prayer she prays whenever she comes for one of her always-too-short visits: “God, please make this visit feel like a long time.” At first I laughed—my delightful mom has the most faithful prayer life, and she prays about everything—but then I was like, “Oh, why not?”—and I started borrowing her prayer.

But you know what I’ve found? There’s something to Mom’s crazy prayer. Whenever we pray those words, time somehow moves a bit slower. Her visit, however short, feels long enough. Even if we only have hours together—a layover between flights—every minute feels fulfilling. Meaningful. Rich. When she leaves we may cry, but still we feel satisfied, knowing we made the most of what time we had. In the mysterious ways of God, he helps us stop and savor and be fully present in our fleeting, priceless moments together.

How to pray when life is delayed

Sometimes we want time to slow down . . . but when we’re waiting, we want it to speed up and slow down at the same time. We want the wait to be over now, with no more time lost. We feel this pressure most acutely when we’re in the middle of one of those life-altering waits: The wait for a husband. For a baby. For a healing. Tick, tick goes the clock; flip, flip goes the calendar page—and you’re still stuck.

You feel your twenties passing you by, and you’re still single…

You’re well into your thirties, and you fear your biological clock will expire before you get to have a family

Your forties are flying, and you’re still sick or depressed—not quite yourself—unable to fully live the life you have…

Your fifties are coming to a close, but still your adult child wanders . . .

And if you’re like me—always watching the clock, painfully conscious of life’s brevity—you can start to get paranoid: My life is wasting away. I’ll never get back this time. These are lost years.

Slow down time

But guess what? God is more powerful than time. Listen to this beautiful prayer:

“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?

Have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

    for as many years as we have seen trouble.

Psalm 90:14–16 (emphasis added)

Do you get what the writer is saying here? He’s asking God to redeem lost time. To make up for lost years—to make Israel glad for as many days, as many years, as they have suffered.

Who wrote this prayer? Moses—Moses who spent forty years wandering in the desert, waiting for the Promised Land. Moses understood the pain of lost life and wasted years better than anyone. And yet he saw that God could still redeem that time, those desert years. In Moses’ eyes, it wasn’t too late. All was not lost. He knew the power of God—God who rained plagues and parted seas, God who appeared in cloud by day and fire by night, God who dwelled on the holy mountain. God could transcend time. God could make up lost years. God could make His people glad, so glad they couldn’t help but sing, for as many years as they had suffered.

We see God do this often in the Bible, showering suffering people with later-life blessings: Joseph. Naomi. Job.

I have seen God do this in my own life more times than I can count. After a tumultuous time in our church life, God provided a way for me and my husband to live in the same town as both our parents—we had never believed it possible, but we got to share eight happy years with both our families. We felt as though God went out of his way to comfort us after a time of trial.

After two years and nine months of infertility, God gave us three babies in…wait for it…two years and ten months. I can hardly see my computer screen for the tears filling my eyes—tears of gratitude, wonder, awe. It’s been eleven years, but still the joy of this blessing staggers me. Even now I ask God, “Why us, when so many others are still waiting?” I can’t answer that question, but I celebrate his gift even as I pray for others still awaiting theirs.

If you’re stuck on pause, mourning a delay, borrow Moses’ prayer. Remind God of the pain you feel watching time pass you by, and ask him to redeem the lost days. Ask him to restore joy. To make you glad for as many days—as many years—as you have suffered. I don’t know when or how God will answer your prayer, but I know he is listening. He is listening, he is concerned, and he is able.

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Little Things

savoring childhood via @lizzylit

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

It’s the little things I love the most,
the little things that make the good life good.

It’s brushing fingers with the boy-turned-man
I once begged God to turn my way,
and he smiles, twinkle-eyed,
and it’s still all for me,
and still my heart stands still.

It’s miniature pajamas hanging in an empty closet,
and I never thought we’d have someone to wear them.

It’s the delightful exasperation of
folding tiny mismatched socks
I thought I’d only buy for friends.

It’s my chubby alarm clock waddling in,
well before the dawn,
lisping, “Mommy, can I snuggle you?”
In she climbs, and she smells like strawberries
and promise.

It’s a victory dance for that first-time triumph;
it’s a wacky dance
just ’cause we feel like dancing
and the sillier we look,
and the faster we spin,
and the harder we laugh,
the better it feels.

It’s a monkey squeeze from a blue-eyed boy
who still begs Mommy to carry him,
and I’ll do it till my arms fall off
—which they may—
because I know it will end soon.

It’s the welcome sinking of the sun—just barely night—
and I’m so weary I can hardly cross
the toy-nado zone
to collapse and prop up my aching feet,
but as I close my eyes,
I groan a prayer of thanks,
and drink it in,
and promise never to forget,
never to squander
these little things.

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27 Moments that Stop a Mother’s Heart

27 Moments that Stop a Mother's Heart

  1. That moment when you hear your baby shout their first mighty wail, and somehow you know this voice—it’s the song your heart has been singing your whole life.

  2. That moment when you hear your toddler giggling, “Bounce, bounce,” in the other room, and you smile to yourself and think, “How sweet.”

  3. That moment, thirty seconds later, when you go to peek in on her and share her laugh, and you find her bouncing on your laptop bag. With your laptop inside it.

  4. That moment when your house is quiet for three whole minutes, and you smile and think, “Ah, now that’s more like it.”

  5. That moment, thirty seconds later, when you realize, “I have children. My house should never be this quiet.” You go to investigate. Sure enough . . . (Fill in the blank: a couch painted with pudding, the baby in the litter box, the toddler up a tree . . .)

  6. That moment when your baby toddles into the room, happily munching on food you didn’t give her, and you go to investigate the source, and realize she stole it from the sibling who has strep throat. OF COURSE SHE DID.

  7. That moment when you realize you desperately have to go to the bathroom, and you’ve been holding it for five hours because, just, all of the children.

  8. That moment when the baby is finally, finally napping, and you’ve just sat down for the first time in three days. You shut your eyes for two seconds, and then the mailman rings the doorbell because you forgot to put the don’t-ring-the-bell note on the door. The dog erupts in a violent barking frenzy. The baby starts to scream.

  9. That moment when you are on time for your child’s preschool Thanksgiving performance, but on time is late, because they started three minutes early, and your child got to lead the procession up onto the stage—her shining moment—and you missed it. And you both sit there and cry through the Thanksgiving feast and you wonder if you’ve already ruined her life and she’s only three.

  10. That moment when you get the email from the preschool that says, “This is to notify you that a child in your child’s class has been diagnosed with…” And you pause, steeling yourself before you scroll down to find out which horrible plague you’ve been exposed to this time. Pink Eye? Scabies? Lice?

  11. That moment when you realize you’re stuck on a toilet seat with an empty roll of toilet paper, and the only one around to help is a two-year-old.

  12. That moment when you hear your kid crying, and you can tell they’re actually hurt for real this time, but you’re in the shower and your hair is all sudsy with shampoo.

  13. That moment when a well-meaning friend comes over, bearing gifts for the children: stuffed bunnies, each a different color. And you know what’s about to happen, and sure enough, “I want the pink bunny!” “No I want the pink bunny!” “No I saw the pink bunny first!” And there goes your morning, and all you can think is, WHY CAN’T THE BUNNIES ALL BE THE SAME COLOR?! And why do I have to have such generous friends?!

  14. That moment when your child learns how to tie their shoes, and they’re so excited they untie and re-tie their shoes 18,000 times in that first hour, and every time they twinkle up at you, glowing with pride, you wonder why you feel like crying.

  15. That moment when your eyes fly open at 6:00 am because HOLY COW YOU FORGOT TO BE THE TOOTH FAIRY! And you leap out of bed and dash for your wallet, but it’s too late. The toothless child is already awake, tears streaming, heart broken, faith fading. And off you sprint to Pinterest, seeking ideas for how to fix a Tooth Fairy Blooper, and you pray, pray, pray that you haven’t accidentally killed Santa, too.

  16. That moment when your child wails, “My head itches,” and you immediately begin to bargain with God: “Please, God, not lice. If you make this not be lice, I promise to love you and serve you forever, and give all I possess to the poor, and donate a kidney to a person in need, and . . .”

  17. That moment when your last baby potty trains, and right in the middle of your I-Never-Have-to-Change-a-Diaper-Again-What-Will-I-Do-with-All-the-Spare-Cash party, you burst into tears.

  18. That moment when you’re walking through the mall next to your eight-year-old son, and quick as a hummingbird, he grabs your elbow, pulls your face down next to his and whispers, “I have a crush on a girl.” He darts away, leaving you standing there, wondering how to pick the pieces of your heart up off the floor.

  19. That moment when the phone rings, and a little boy voice on the line says, “Hi, can I speak to your daughter?” And you hem and haw, not sure if you should give her the phone or not, because you’re so. Not ready. For this.

  20. That moment when your preteen comes home crying, and you ask what’s wrong, and she shakes her head and shuts you out.

  21. That moment when your child hands you one of those sealed, top-secret notes from the school administration, and your stomach does cartwheels, because your first thought is, This is it. The note declaring my child a gifted genius. And your second thought is, This is it. The note declaring my child a derelict and me an incompetent parent. And really, knowing yourself and knowing your child, it could go either way. You rip open the note to learn their fate.

  22. That moment when you let your teenage son leave the house to drive somewhere alone in a car for the first time. He sprints out the door grinning and war-whooping, and all you can do is fall to your knees and pray.

  23. That moment when your son gets clobbered by another player in a game. He goes down, the coaches swarm around him, and you’re desperate to sprint out onto the field, but you don’t because even if he was dead he would kill you. So you stand there in the freezing stands and wrestle down your maternal instincts and pray to God and hold your breath until your son sits up.

  24. That moment when your daughter comes squealing through the door, waving an acceptance letter, and you’re not sure if your heart is bursting with pride, or the knowledge that she’s really leaving.

  25. That moment when your daughter comes home from college, and you know she’s dating the wrong boy.

  26. That moment when your daughter comes home from college, and you know she’s dating the right boy

  27. That moment when your grown-up baby walks down the aisle and makes a vow. From the seat beside you, your husband squeezes your hand, and you know what he means: It’s just us now. It’s been a good ride . . . and it’s not over yet.

Wishing all my fellow moms a happy Mother’s Day . . . May your day be filled with the best kind of heart-stopping moments.

Photo credit: Julie Moon of Neat & Pretty.

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27 Moments that Stop a Mother's Heart @lizzylife0121 @lizzylit