The Measure of Success

The day reaches its end, a good day, yet the weariness is still there.  The pots and pans are scrubbed, leftovers tucked away.  The children, too, are scrubbed and tucked away.  Only the blowing wind, the rain pattering on the sill, the occasional rumble of thunder now.

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How do we measure our days?  How does my soul measure the fruitfulness of a day?  These thoughts weigh on my mind as I turn on the faucet and let the hot water beat on my skin.  The days end, a good day, yet I feel that I didn’t accomplish enough.  I didn’t get to this or that.  Pictures still wait to be hung on our walls here, piles of clutter still wait to be organized.  For heaven’s sake, I have nothing ready for the baby coming in just a few weeks.  I groan inwardly as I think of all that needs to be done.  Hospital bags packed, baby clothes pulled out and washed and organized, freezer stocked with meals.  Carving out and setting up a little space for this little life that is coming.  My social media outlets are filling up with news and pictures of all my friends and family that were due ahead of us, each one welcoming a baby.  Each a reminder that soon it will be our turn.

So much left to do, and my heart feels unprepared.  So many people have given us words of woe about the transition from 2 to 3 children, and I groan every time.  Really?  So few encourage or speak words of strength.  I need the borrowed strength right now, I think.  It seems my preparations have been mostly around labor this time, trying to fight back the fears and worries of a repeat of what happened at Noah’s birth.  {A baby in distress, taken from me right at birth due to swallowed meconium, while my body experienced its own trauma from a broken/separated pelvis and postpartum hemorrhage.  Not to mention a very slow and complicated recovery.}  How to prepare my heart and mind for the adjustments that are to come?

All I want to do is savor this season a little longer, this time as a family of four, before we transition and never pass this way again.

Then these words via Ann Voskamp’s blog today:

“The thing I know most about seasons —  is that God made them to change.  And it is in the passing through them, the move from one season to the next, that true beauty is brought forth.” {Laura Boggess}

It makes me think about labor, just one kind of passing from one season to the next.  All that comes when that baby comes, all the unknowns and questions and uncertainties, all the newness all over again.  I want to resist the change and the fears surrounding the unknowns.  But true beauty is brought forth in the passing.  The letting go, the welcoming what is to come, whatever it is.  Trusting, surrendering to this wild and untamable yet good God who is most certainly more intent on my conformity to Christ than my comfort, my holiness rather than my happiness.  {Why again is surrender so hard, so daily?}

And so I look back over the day.. what is the measure of my days, Lord?  What is the measure of success?  Is it every task crossed off the list?  Is it what my hands can accomplish that makes me feel worthy, worthy of having been given another day breathing air?  Why is this always what my soul comes back to? Like a dog returns to its vomit, why do I return over and over the stinking pile of guilt and shame?  If I feel this way now, how will I feel in a few weeks when I am totally unable to lift a finger to accomplish much around here besides feeding, swaddling, changing a newborn?  What do you say, Lord?

“When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of His mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by His grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” {Titus 3:4-7 NET}

The passage goes on to exhort the readers to good works, because of the example of the Good Work that Christ did for us, and because our good works are profitable for others.  Ahh yes, this balance again.  The Lord’s gentle grace whispered again:

“My child, it isn’t what you do that can ever attain worthiness.  You cannot measure yourself or your days by the works of your hands.  You must rest in what I have done for you, what I have accomplished, what I finished.  I have made you worthy.  And yet, yes, you must work, there is much work I have for you.  The work of love, of likewise pouring out your life.  The work of kindness and ministering grace and reconciliation to all that I put before you.  The work of the mundane tasks and necessary preparations in each day.  These things are the practical avenues through which you can show love.  And of course, you fail and grow faint and weary.  But I am your God, your Creator, the One who formed you.  I remember that you are dust.  Come to me, let me pour out grace afresh.  Let me restore and renew.”

I think of the words I studied in the Gospels this morning:  Come to me like a child.  I watch my daughter dance amidst the mess of toys, the unpacked boxes, the unhung pictures, the scattered books.  Unhindered, unhurried.  Delighting in being delighted in.  Lord, let me be the daughter who dances freely and lightly in the unforced rhythms of grace.  

Help me to “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge.” {Eph. 3:17-19}  To measure the immeasurable love of Christ for me.

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5 thoughts on “The Measure of Success

  1. to encourage you: I’m so excited for you. Our transition from 2-3 babes was a breeze. It was the easiest for many reasons but one was that I felt God’s sweetness in having such a gift in my arms that I didn’t plan for. And I had done it two times before! No problem! When he got here, I was so relaxed (mostly.) I’ve enjoyed it so much. I know it’s easy to worry right now but He knows what you are anxious about and He is good, loving, and faithful.

    1. Helen.. thank you! So encouraging to hear your experience. I know others are trying to help by sharing the reality of their difficulties but it can feel like people enjoy freaking you out sometimes. 🙂 It’s good to hear the GOOD, too. Thank you! And you’re right.. no matter what, He is good, loving and faithful.

  2. Hey Martha! Thank you for the rawness and the TRUTH in your post. I’m reminding myself daily that feelings are just that… we have to keep going to back to what God says! He is good. I echo Helen, our sweet Cornelia (#3) has been nothing but blessing. God even heard my cry and gave me an easy birth after monster baby #2 (Maxwell). He’s with you and he knows you… keep trusting him, sister!

    1. Hahaha.. monster max. 🙂 Well that is certainly encouraging! I’m praying for a smaller baby and an easier labor this time around, too! But of course, will trust whatever the Lord has planned. Won’t be too much longer till she’s here! Again, thanks for your words. It’s good to hear the good reports, too.

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