Before I had children, my car was a sacred realm for worship. I would crank up my music and sing at the top of my voice. Or I would pray, often out loud, for the length of my trip. I remember in high school, back when I drove my dad’s old work truck everywhere, rolling down the windows and singing without abandon, without any interruption other than the rattling of old metal and the scent of the peanut farmers’ crops wafting from the dryers.
But, then I had children. And, suddenly my car seemed more like a cheese cracker war zone than a worship experience. What used to be a refreshing time with God became a battle of wills, a desperate attempt to stay on the road while I needed to fall asleep or to keep a paci in a newborn’s mouth or to look for the millionth time in the rear view mirror to pretend that I am seeing the drawing that someone just made.
Even today, while my car made its twice-weekly trek to dance class in a neighboring town, I attempted to listen to some of my favorite worship tunes. The ten year old sang along. The seven year old told stories. And, the three year old made demands. I tried to sing to my God while I attempted to threaten the three year old. Your love is relentless, I sang. Your love is relentl—Emerald, stop crying right now. I KNOW you want more water. But, you have apple juice right here. Your love goes on. Your love goes ooooooon….if you don’t quit crying I’m going to pull this car over and you are going to be in serious trouble.
Thankfully, it was a short drive. We made it home with just a little yelling and even less singing. I was feeling slightly less than worshipful by the time we pulled into the garage and I knew that baths and homework checking and teeth brushing still lay ahead.
So, now that those days of quiet, peaceful moments are temporarily gone, where does a mama find her worship? When she can’t spend an hour on Bible study or even get through one song without interruption? Where does she find her time with her Creator? Where does she go to get the connection with God that she once felt she had, pre-kids, pre-chaos?
I have some ideas. Mamas, well, we find our worship in unexpected places. Like in the delicious curve of a chubby baby cheek. In the music of our kids laughing hysterically. We find our worship in the clinging arms of a child who needs us. In the desperation to see one get well, get happy, get confident, or get past a broken heart. We find our worship in the long hours of middle-of-the-night mothering. In the things that drive us to our knees.
We may not be able to make it through a song these days, but we find our worship anyway. In the miracle of motherhood. In the awful and the awesome of it all. In the lay your head here on my chest and if you vomit down my shirt, so be it. In the grace that pours out of little hearts that we helped make. In the love. In the sacrifice. Every day seems like a clear reminder, a God-whispered yes–this is how I love you. And, suddenly, there we are, right in the middle of the chaos, worshiping.
The gratefulness comes easy, even on the hard days. Because at some point all of the babies sleep. At some point, every hard-headed little toot will smile and say with all sweetness, I love you, Mama. At some point, just when we need a little comfort, an ounce of reassurance, there is a chubby little hand patting and patting a weary cheek. Not every day is all picture perfect moments of stellar mothering and angelic kid-hood. But, in every day there is a glimpse of God’s greatness. Of Jesus’ relentless love. His love is relentless. I don’t have to sing it to believe it’s true. I see it in the mile-long eyelashes of a dreaming baby. His love, it is as real as one last request for water at bedtime. It pursues me daily through these three little souls who love me with all their hearts. In His love I find my worship.
I loved the days of singing at the top of my voice in my car. I felt God’s presence there. But, I never felt Him more clearly and more tenderly than I have felt Him in my years as a mama. He took my neat, clean life and He chuckled as He dropped babies into it. His fingerprints are all over this mess. And, I know Him better and love Him more in this glorious jumble than I ever have before.
So, I sing in my new way. In an old hymn whispered to a sick baby at midnight. In a hushed prayer over the piles of stuffed animals that a little boy sleeps under. In a teary good-bye when it’s time for school and the morning has been a rough one. There are so many ways to sing of His mercy and goodness and grace, when you are a mama. So, I find my worship, and the washing machine sloshes its familiar rhythm. He is good. He is good. He is good.