...And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. - Ephesians 5:2
Americans love convenience. The easiest road is the best one, we reason. Drive-through windows, fast food, remote controls, cruise control, and diet pills (because who actually wants to exercise to lose weight?) are just a sampling of the many products of our ease-loving society. Do you want to know something about anything? No need to bother with the old-fashioned strategies of 1)Looking it up in an encyclopedia at the library or 2) Calling your parents to ask. Simply "Google" it and learn everything you need to know on Wikipedia. And if by some chance you are not near a computer or other device with internet capabilities, a new service promises to send the answer to any question to your cell phone via text message, for only $.99 an answer. A waste of money? Maybe. But like with ATM and pizza delivery fees, people are willing to pay for convenience.
Just this week, I experienced an easier-than-usual outing that made me consider the convenience factor in motherhood. While the boys spent a day with their grandparents, I took advantage of the relative freedom, and ran errands with no one but my three week old Lydia. It was so much easier to get out of the house with only one little person to bundle, buckle, pack for, and keep fed and happy during the outing - at least when compared to outings with two or three (or more) children. We even left the house at an unusual hour - the boys' lunch and nap time - just because we could; Lydia's naptime is anytime, and I made sure to feed her just before heading out the door. Of course, I still had to keep her need for milk and clean diapers in mind as she and I ventured in and out of the pharmacy and library. In the grocery store, I kept the cart moving through the aisles to prevent any unhappy awakenings. And as I precariously balanced groceries for four other people around Lydia's infant seat, I could not help but think how easy shopping must be for people who have no children to worry about.
In fact, there are many aspects of life that would be easier without the inconvenient cares of a family. When I run out of eggs or my nightly ice cream, it would be nice to hop in the car without a second thought, instead of packing a bag and wrestling three little people into carseats and carriages for a few measly groceries (and in actuality, I am much more likely to live without the missing item than to attempt the latter scenario). It would be easier to keep the floors clean (and oh, how I love clean floors!) if there were no muddy-shoed guests, toilet training accidents, or sticky bananas and soggy Cheerios dropped at mealtime. And having a newborn can be particularly inconvenient, especially if she is the sort to cry whenever one attempts to put her down. My ability to do things that other people take for granted - like sleep, shower, or make and eat dinner - is often squelched by my lack of free hands while I cradle a tiny baby. I cannot go on a cruise (babies must be at least six months old), or plan an impromptu movie date without finding a babysitter, or dash out the door with the careless freedom of the single world. There is nothing convenient about cleaning up spills or being woken up at 3am or comforting a sick child or cleaning up messes from a sick child at 3am.
But honestly, would I trade my family for the sake of convenience? Never. What would be the point in concocting a delicious meal if there were no loved ones to enjoy it (or at least eat the minimum number of required bites)? If I dropped my children off at daycare to get some "me time" or make errands easier, I would miss out on the joys of teaching, playing with, and caring for them. I don't mind exchanging the convenience of free hands and free time for the sweetness of snuggling my precious baby. And though families are messy and time-consuming, I would much rather be loved in an imperfect home than lonely in a spotless one. It might be nice to have a job that ends at 5:00 with no late-night calls, but even with its crazy hours, I love the job that God has given me.
Besides, God has not called us to an easy life. I cannot find a single Biblical reference commanding us to bear or raise children - or do anything, for that matter - according to what is convenient. Instead, He calls us to live a life of love and sacrifice. Some sacrifices are grand and admirable, but much more often (and especially for mothers), they are small and unseen, like running errands with three children in tow - or staying home when it would be nice to get out. If I do them with joy, the mountains of dirty diapers, dishes, and laundry I tackle are not a burden, but a fragrant offering to God. I may not be able to complete all of my projects, or have time to unwind at the end of the day, or go to the bathroom without children banging on the door, but instead of becoming resentful, I can choose to see these little sacrifices as my offering to my family, and to God.
I am typing this with a baby asleep on my lap. It might be easier, and less strain on my back, to blog without a sleepy spectator between me and the laptop screen. But I cannot imagine trading these sweet little sighs and fluttering eyelids for all the ergonomic chairs in the world. And tonight, when the house is in a state of disarray and I am needing a shower and my dinner is cold because Princess Lydia likes to have all of Mumma's attention in the evenings, may I praise God for every inconvenience that gives me opportunity to sacrifice. Just as Christ gave himself for us, I pray that I will be willing to give myself for my husband and children.
Dear friends, spend your money on pizza delivery and text messages if you choose, but let us spend our lives in loving sacrifice for others.