Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
It's 11:30am... I still have my glasses on, this is my third day of not having showered. The laundry is wrinkling in the dryer and the hot soapy water in the sink will be cold before I get back to the dishes. I've reheated my coffee three times already. My voice mailbox is probably full now after ignoring the 6th call in a row. Why? Because I'm in the nursery fortifying my position as Ferber's "what not to do" poster child.
This is day three of this "phase"... whatever it may be. Is he teething? Is he just so stoked about his recent mastery of rolling over that he can't settle down? Can he sense the change coming as I am packing for our move this weekend? Does he just have a sixth sense about when I am trying to accomplish something and some cruel desire to thwart my progress and make me late for everything? Is it the new solid we introduced yesterday? Is it an ear infection?
Whatever it is, something has highjacked my contented super sleeper 5 month old and turned him into the fussiest, clingiest, restless little animal on the planet. I want to diagnose it so I can fix it. Tylenol? A teething necklace? Cry it out? My back hurts, I'm tired, and I have things to do. But I'm sitting in this glider rocking my sleeping baby. Because he needs to sleep and he will only nap if I'm holding him the past few days. And when he's awake he goes ballistic if he can't see me... or if I'm not looking at him. I oscillate between guilt and determination. If I owned a tank that said "I can't mom today" this would be the day to wear it... Well, along with the two days before this one... But let's be honest I basically wear the same outfit every day, so that'd be fine
As I am rocking him, I feel like a failure. I threw my hands in the air just before turning off the baby monitor and making my way to the nursery and huffed a cathartic "Lord, have mercy!" This was uttered with about as much sincerity or heavenly direction as Jesse Katsopolis' "haaaave mercy" in every episode of Full House.
Now the phrase is coming to mind again as I hold my sleeping babe... "Lord, have mercy."
What exactly am I asking (however irreverently or unconciously) for? Miriam Webster defines mercy as "kindness or help given to people who are in a desperate situation"; "the kind and gentle treatment of someone having no right to it"; "a blessing as an act of divine love." I look down again at this sleeping baby.
My frustrated utterance came not from faith or desperation but a love of ease, desire for control, and craving for a sense of accomplishment. But good ol' Webster reminds me of the posture I should take in this prayer. I am "someone having no right" to kind and gentle treatment. And yet....
HIS MERCY IS ALL OVER THIS MOMENT.
My once screaming baby is now settled and is completely at ease... My ears have relief. Mercy.
I have the ability (and time) to hold and to quiet him because of my husband's hard work and sacrifice and God's benevolence. Mercy.
I am a mother. Mercy.
This child is healthy. Mercy.
He has given me the freedom and dominion to decide what the best thing is for this baby right now. (Even if I'm making the wrong choice by rocking him). Mercy.
I have been adopted into His family and He delights to give me good things. Mercy.
He gently uses this cathartic phrase to transform my grumbling about my circumstance into gratitude for his kindness. Once again as he so faithfully does with the psalmist time and time again, He takes my frustration and turns it to praise and repentance:
Father you are a merciful God. You have blessed me abundantly even in your faithfulness to answer a prayer I uttered cathartically and without sincerity. Please forgive me for having a grumbling spirit and protect me from believing the falsehood that I am the center of my life or that my child is in my way. Give me eyes to see that you have given me exactly what I need in each moment to depend on you and to be made more like Jesus, even and especially when that's a screaming baby. God, I praise you that you are rich in love and slow to anger. I pray that you would bless me with that sort of resiliency and patience with my son, and with myself in the moments when I don't know what to do or how to fix it. Thank you for your faithful and gentle leading. Amen.
The more I spend time with Mamas who are a few steps ahead of me, the more it seems that all of motherhood is some sort of "phase." I pray that morning my morning, and moment by chaotic moment, we will see his mercies, and that they will continually move us from despair to thankfulness.