I scrubbed up the mud marks from the bathroom drawer, the one I had freshly painted the other day. How kids can take merging beauty and turn it upside down in one day baffles me, still.
Painting white over ugly brown wood is one of the most rewarding things—and though it’s hard work to renovate the old, it’s one of the most refreshing, fun things to do.
Just the other day, I had stood by while two men loaded up an old, free hutch into my dusty mini van. It barely fit, but there I was, eyeing some old piece ready to be coated with chalk paint before it would grace the first office I had ever had. I was nearly giddy with excitement over having a lovely piece for all those books I had been storing away for some years because the shelves were always full–and some books, well, they don’t go on the family book shelf!
My man walked by as I painted away. “Thank you for making our home a lovely place to be,” he commented.
We had just bought our first home, and I had a few moments to swipe the brush after a full day of gardening. The extra rooms turning into each of our offices was a bonus I hadn’t expected—and many nights I’d lay in bed scrolling Pinterest for inexpensive ideas on how to turn ugly into lovely.
But the son needed T-shirts today, and new shoes. “Part of the reason I have been growing my hair out is because I feel like it matches the clothes I have, Mama. I don’t have any T-shirts.”
I hit the road with this son of mine, the one who has an adult head on young shoulders, and loves hanging out with older, wise kids. His shoulders are getting broad, hunky. And he tells me of his deepest heart while we drive.
I treasure it more than I treasure most things. I’m in awe that he trusts me. And we drive from one place to another in search of the clothes he needs until he’s well equipped.
He walks by as I’m painting, later. “Mama, how do you like my shoes?”
I look at him, and his satisfied eyes let me know his heart is cared for once again. I don’t really care that his shoes aren’t my style, because happy hearts are more than a style—they are a miracle, a blessing not to be taken for granted.
He runs off for his weekly swim with friends. And I don’t regret a minute of the time or money I spent on this child, because that’s how he hears love. Spend time with him, and his heart settles peacefully. Care for his needs, and he’s confident as he goes out. Hear his deepest thoughts without criticism, and he keeps nothing back.
I keep swiping paint. Old cabinets are detailed, and it takes a few hours just to put on the first coat. I’m weary when I’m through, just when my man asks if I’m opposed to him going to the gym.
I shake my head. I’m envisioning a quiet night with the little boys while everyone else is out. Clean up, shower, chocolate……and then, he asks if I’d like to go with him and read while I watch the little boys swim.
I hesitate. “Any good wife would join her husband,” my mind reasons.
“I want a shower, chocolate, and Pinterest,” my hormone-wracked body argues.
“I think I’ll stay,” I say. “I’m not feeling well, and I’d love a quiet night.” He nods his head. He gets it. The days have been maxed for him, too, and I’ve found him alone in mind-repose on quite a few occasions lately.
This thing of not needing to be everything for everyone has taken me years to learn. And as I showered the day’s dirt away, I realized it again.
When I’m not trying to be everything for him, I get to be something for him.
I got to love on him last night in one of the best ways he really gets love.
We got to hold each other numerous times today.
I got to interrupt my project to care for a business call he needed me to make.
I got to put food aside for him when he returned, hungry and sweaty, from the gym.
There’s this little fear-thought the enemy of peace wants to thrust into my head when I decline an outing with him, even if it’s only to the gym. “What if some other pretty girl with a perfectly toned body does arm curls beside him when you’re not there?”
And I feel the pressure of it all, this need to be everything at once no matter how tired I am. I decline anyway—because I’m learning slowly that driving myself hard for too many good things will drive me away from the one good thing.
Because a good thing, at the wrong time, becomes the wrong thing.
I’m learning that the pressure to be everything will keep me from the blessing of being
something he needs most of all.
I stay home. I clean up, shower, and spoon that chocolate ganache into my body which has been demanding hormonal balance all day long. As I shower, words begin flowing into my head and I can’t wait to finish and type them out.
I wonder, would they have come had I been bone weary at the gym, trying to be something for someone when I could have been simply me, loving from my small corner as best I could?
Sometimes, love is as simple as gladly interrupting your favorite project to make a call for your man.
Sometimes, love means you smile and offer him food when he comes home.
Love means you take your son to town when you’d rather be home—that you spend the money on clothes for him when you really want throw pillows for your new home, instead.
I’m painting away, and this son walks up again. “Mama, look.”
He’s dripping blood, and I swipe away, this time with wet paper towel. I know taking him into the house is my version of love for that moment. Placing a bandage on his forehead becomes a privilege, an honor, a special moment because he’s here, and he holds my heart, and I hold his.
Love requires you to give until you’re full, not dish out until you’re bare.
Get this, mothers and wives—you don’t need to be everything, because you already are something so vital to your loved ones’ existence, and you’re irreplaceable.
When you calm down, breathe deeply, and love hard in all those small moments, you give your man something so precious that it can’t be replaced by some girl at the gym doing her big moment of weight lifting.
Do your own thing, and do it well.
You don’t need to compete with Hollywood—just care for your body, maintain your weight, and do well with what God’s given you.
You don’t need to prove anything—just be entirely full of Proven Love.
You don’t need to be the best cook—just work to please your man with his favorites every once in awhile, just because.
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur—just find out what your gifts are, and utilize them well.
You don’t need to save every penny—just make the most of your man’s budget—and pick up those free pieces of furniture beside the road.
You don’t need to do it all in one day—you just need to embrace the process of each day.
My hutch is partially painted, and I didn’t join my man at the gym. I’m so human I can’t do it all, and I’m so finite my energy is dependent on rest and sleep.
Why is it that women tend to live as though they should have no human needs at all? Why the guilt over saying no to those we love?
Because we fail to see that in saying no, we get to say yes. In saying no to more activities, we get to say yes to extra room for love to grow in our hearts.
I enjoyed the process today. I slowed down, and relaxed. Each bite of chocolate was a gift, and when the crew walked in, I got to smile and welcome them home.
Because perfect love never meant perfect performance.
I get to paint the hutch partially. I get to accomplish what I want for others, partially. I get to know it’s OK, because my humanness was never meant to compete with God’s perfection.
Embrace the journey, and know that, when you don’t perform perfectly, you get to know and show Perfect Love—and that is all that will ever last. Refuse fear of failure, and make way for peace in the process.
Give your all to small moments, for they make up a large life of love.