The last 8 weeks have been a blur of feedings, diaper changes, temper tantrums, crying, short nights and long, exhausting days. It is my new normal. I knew having a 20 month old and a newborn were going to be challenging for me, and that has definitely been true of the last several weeks. Coming down with a cold and cough a few days after my C-section (coughing and C-sections don’t go well together), and then my husband, toddler, and I catching the gut-wrenching Norovirus last week were not helpful to say the least. To be perfectly honest, there has been a fair share of suffering happening in my life. Moments when I just want to scream or cry or indulge in thoughts of running away for a day to sleep and eat and drink whatever I want. And then there are more realistic times when I just want to take a shower and actually get dressed for the day.
Then about a week ago, after the stomach bug relinquished me, I realized I have been so focused on caring for my two children, sometimes on myself, hardly on my husband, I had hardly noticed what season we are in. Lent. A time of suffering. A time of sadness. But as my pastor friend, calls it: A Bright Sadness. Sad for where we sit right now, but bright for where we are headed: The Resurrection Day of Christ, Our Savior.
When I get my thoughts off of my own little self long enough, I remember Christ’s suffering. And oh how much he suffered; taking on the sins of the world. I realize I am not really suffering at all. And I remember times in the not too distant past when I did experience true pain and suffering, but Jesus called out to me then and calls out to me still:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
There are going to be long, exhausting days as a mother of young children, and some days it will seem like we are suffering. For others of us, we may actually be truly suffering. But for this day, I choose to remember the one who truly felt pain like none other, all so I may live eternally free of it. Of course there will be pain in this life, but there will be joy. And I realize that despite the sleepless nights and terrible stabs at trying to reason with an emotional, practically nonverbal toddler, there have been moments of true joy. Moments when I realize I would choose no other vocation for myself right now than to mother these babies the best way I know how. And I realize that these weeks and months with my babies truly are precious, fleeting and I must close my eyes to the “suffering” and keep them wide open for the moments of joy or as I like to call them “the kairos moments”.
I first heard of this word "kairos" a couple of years ago from my pastor. It is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment. In Christian theology, however, it means the time when God acts. These kairos moments can be any time where God steps in to the mundane chronological time of minutes, hours, days (Chronos time). These moments are big, time-stopping events such as your wedding day and the birth of your child, but I believe they can also be small moments like watching your child learn something new, or a big hug and squeal of delight that is unexpected. I believe these are the moments when God is screaming "wake up, pay attention, this is an opportunity to set a new course, to teach, or to engage your child!" Even if the new course is just simply choosing to see the gift(s) in front of me (my crusty eyed beautiful newborn and my nappy headed, food stuck to the face beautiful daughter).
As Glennon Melton, blogger for Momastery.com/blog/ and author of her first book, "Carry onWarrior, Thoughts on Life Unarmed," says in a post on kairos from January 2012:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in. Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them…Like when I’m stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I’m haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I’m transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles of healthy food I’ll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world’s mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos…These moments leave as fast as they come - but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it. (Click here to read entire post.)
So with each new day, during this season of Lent, I am choosing to:
- Remember Christ suffered for me
- Realize that I am really not suffering at all (He is just testing me out some!)
- Look for those kairos moments (gifts, opportunities to change course) in my life
- And look with anticipation to the day when God will act again! (No more suffering for eternity)