It’s 4 a.m. Little footsteps woke me.
“Mommy, I peed my bed.”
“Noooo,” I moan.
Please, God, no. Not after the past two days of insanity. Church, play-dates, 2 trips to pick up the new-to-us bunk bed and freezer, tearing apart and cleaning a room and a basement, un-loading, figuring out how to put it all back together minus instructions, loads of laundry, helping a friend, setting up a brunch, putting 75 cookbooks together that refuse to be stapled and weren’t supposed to be my responsibility. Two days of bone and soul-wearying work and yet nothing to cross off my to-do list. No. It’s not fair. I just washed those sheets, the clean smell of bleach and fabric softener still linger on them, only now mixed with urine.
We pad down the stairs to his room. I tear sheets, fluffy comforter, duvet and about a hundred stuffed animals off the bottom bunk, hitting my head a dozen times in the process. How is it possible that such a small person can make such a wet spot? I put it back together as well as I can until everything’s washed.
“I’m sorry I peed the bed, Mommy,” my 5-year-old whispers.
At 4 a.m. things seem so much dimmer. I try to shake the frustration off but the prospect of laundry deja vu and another day filled with responsibilities to everyone and everything but my comfy happiness has settled itself heavily on my shoulders and mind. This mommy-life, so muddy with monotony, has gotten to me tonight. All I really want to do is throw a toddler-size tantrum. I want to yell and scream and stomp my feet. I stifle the urge. It would only wake the rest of the house and thus awaken a whole new slew of tears and to-do’s.
“Pick up your cross, Cory.”
I hear Him but I pretend like I didn’t. This is justified frustration after all.
I mutter a short lecture to my son on the benefits of going to the bathroom before you go to bed, tuck him in and shut the door. I trudge back through the cold, dark house and flop back into bed only to stare at the alarm clock, red and fierce. 4:15. 4:16. 4:17.
“Pick up your cross, Cory.”
Though He says it gently, I’m still not ready to respond. I heard it all day. I heard it when I had to change the plans of my day to fit something else in. I heard it while sorting through 1500 sheets of recipe-laced paper. I heard it while nursing my bruised stapling-hand. I heard it when I looked at my messy house, mounds of laundry and in-tact to-do list for the day, and sulked.
I tried to tell myself that I was picking up my cross. I mean, look at everything I did! I most certainly was carrying that heavy burden!
“Come on, Lord, don’t You see what I’ve done for You today?”
But as I sit here, typing away at my first and long-put-off blog entry, I know what He’s really saying.
Sometimes what matters is how you pick up your cross.
I know how He picked up His. With hands that dripped scarlet. Three hundred pounds of rough splinters laid on a back whipped raw. Wood pressing knife-like, against His thorny brow. Blood mixed with sweat. Pain wrapped with love ‘cross His spat-upon face. And He did it for me.
Philippians 2:5-11 (The Message)
“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”
When He asks me to pick up my cross it’s because He already did. And when He did, He thought of me. He thought of me in this moment when I’m whining about urine-soaked sheets and cookbooks. Saw my sour face and self-blackened heart. And all He thought was,
He picked up His cross out of love and asks me to pick up mine for the same reason.
Hebrews 12:2-12 (NIV and The Message)
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
…So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Welcome, dear reader, as He helps me strengthen my feeble arms and my weak and trembling knees. My prayer is that as I attempt to level my paths and pick up my cross, that we both will find healing from the only One who can truly heal bodies and broken hearts. The One who thought of me and you as He carried His cross. And all He thought was…