"Mama...? Mommy...? Mom...?"
It’s six thirty in the morning and I tell my kids to pretend I don’t exist. After all, I’ve trained them well. They've got their morning checklists, their smelly sticker motivators, and I feel set to release them. Right now is ME time, a moment to drink my coffee, pray, and get over my post-migraine headache. (Coffee is life every morning, but today it feels vital.)
For five minutes I sit in silence, and then ... "Mama?”
“Yes?” I keep my eyes closed.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” I take a sip of my coffee, not looking at Daughter #3.
“Can I have a Cats vs Pickles birthday party and get a bunch of Cats vs Pickles from my friends?”
Irritation grates on me like a fork. Her eighth birthday is six months away.
“Sure,” I say, eyes still closed.
“Thanks!” I hear her prance away like a cat (or is it a pickle?)
Five minutes later… "Mommy?”
Stay calm, Jonna. “Yes?"
“Did you know there’s a really good deal on squishies?” This feels like an ambush from Daughter #2.
“No.” I say…because I DON’T CARE!
“Well, there is. It's on Amazon right now and I’d really really REALLY like you to buy me some.”
“That's not gonna happen," I quip. "Keep saving up your money."
One minute later… "Mom?”
At this point I laugh and turn around to see Daughter #1. I embrace the fact that I will never EVER be alone.
“Can you do my hair? I want it in two little buns with two strips of hair coming down and I’d like you to curl them like this.” She makes a twisty motion with her fingers.
The irony of this is not lost on me: I can hardly ever get my tween daughter to shower let alone brush her hair.
“Bring me two rubber bands,” I sigh with a little smile. “And a brush!” I crow after her.
As I wait for my daughter to come back, I go back to praying ... and then it hits me: Don't I treat God this way too sometimes, with staccato requests and demands?
"God…? Can you heal my headache?"
"God…? Can you give me your strength today?"
"God…? Can you take my children away to Neverland?”
Now, thankfully he's omnipotent, so I'm sure he doesn’t feel quite as annoyed as I do when my children berate me with needs. But I still empathize with him.
I mean, had my kids approached me with gratitude first, my response would've been entirely different. Maybe I would’ve opened my eyes. Maybe I would've ordered those dumb Amazon squishies. (Probably not.)
Gratitude changes a person's heart. I suspect that's why the Bible tells us to enter into the presence of the Lord with thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2). After all, when we praise God, something shifts inside of us. It takes the focus off of this world and puts it where it belongs – onto an immoveable, unshakeable heaven.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2)
I did this the other day when I woke up stressed and sweating – literally sweating because my to-do list was so long. I opened my Bible app and saw a reminder to stop, breathe, and praise God. So I did.
Instantly I felt relief, joy, and hope. Imagine that!
Patience and compassion may not always be my strength at six thirty in the morning, but God is always both of those things, and more:
He is faithful (1 Cor 10:13).
He is light (1 John 1:5).
He is patient (2 Peter 3:9).
He is a gift-giver (James 1:17).
He is perfect (Psalms 18:30).
He is compassionate (Psalms 116:5).
He is loving (John 3:16).
He is worthy to be praised! Not for what he gives us but because of who he is. Thanking him first before we submit our requests doesn't change his nature (Hebrews 13:8). It changes us.
So give it a try.
Do it when your kids bombard you with ridiculousness in the morning and you can't drink your coffee let alone go to the bathroom in peace. Do it when you're tired and grumpy and feel like a lawn mower has shredded your gut. Do it, so you can set your mind on things above. 🙏