When my husband and I first started dating 10 years ago, we were long distance. He lived in Pennsylvania, while I lived in Kansas. I got used to saying goodbye to him. That pure dread that starts sinking in roughly 18-24 hours before the goodbye is a feeling I’ll never forget. You’d think with that practice of saying goodbye that it’d be easy. But it’s not.
A few weeks ago, he had a work trip that was going to be 4 days and 3 nights long. It would be his first time in a year-and-a-half being gone overnight – and since the last overnight trip, we’ve added another child into the mix. So as the work trip approached, I started to feel that dread. I was anxious about being along with three kids for that long of time, and also very anxious about him simply being gone. It’s not fun to be away from the person you love the most in the world. Typically, right before my husband leaves for something, I get really short and kind of – for lack of a better word – rude. I take my anxiety out on him. Not resentment, just a “I feel this way because YOU are leaving” type of thing. So I told myself that despite my nerves, I wasn’t going to do that this time. This was a trip he was excited about and was looking forward to, so I didn’t want to be unsupportive.
I was doing REALLY well. Until the day before he left when our 6-month-old started coming down with her first cold. That alone is somewhat anxiety-inducing as a mother, but now add in the fact that I was about to be alone… I started feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I was managing, though. Then in the middle of the night, our oldest woke up with his first ear infection. So the morning my husband was leaving, myself and the three kids found ourselves at the doctor’s office.
Then… I was on my own. With two sick kids. And a third one who couldn’t understand why no one would play with her. We got through the first day. Our baby – who never wakes up in the middle of the night – naturally, woke up 3 times that night. The start of day 2, I started to really become overwhelmed. Our baby didn’t want to be put down, she was coughing and leaking like a faucet. I started to get worried about RSV and started picturing the “worst” – having to take our baby to the hospital while my husband was gone. Again, we made it through day 2. The start of day 3, I was exhausted – mentally, physically… every type of exhaustion, I felt. To top it off, our baby wasn’t any better. It was Friday, and I didn’t want to go into the weekend not knowing what was going on with her. So we made another doctor’s appointment – our third one that week. The doctor gave me the peace of mind that I desperately needed at that moment. I felt confident being able to tackle the day and a half and one night I had left on my own.
But that day really wasn’t much better in sick-baby-land. I was still exhausted. I still had, what felt like, so much time before my husband got home. It was time to pick up my son from school, and I was relieved to have made it through the school week alone – those drop-offs and pick-ups will really take it out of you! My daughters and I pulled up to the school. It was POURING. I watched a mom come out of the church across the parking lot with her two young children. I thought to myself, “this is weird. It’s pouring rain. No one is ever coming out of the church at this time.” I was concerned about her lack of an umbrella and why she was in the church – thinking she must have something desperate she’s praying for.
And that’s when it hit me.
Our church was starting a new initiative – Adoration for young families. Adoration that I had signed myself and the three kids up for weeks ago. It was a 15-minute slot right after school. My immediate thought was, “absolutely not”. How was I supposed to take three kids – one being a sick baby – into church right now and pray. I was too exhausted, too worried, too overwhelmed.
The longer I sat there in our car waiting for our son as it poured down rain – I realized I was the desperate one. I needed to be the one in the church at this odd time of day. I had nothing left in me – with 33 more hours alone.
So, we did it.
We walked into the church – wet, tired, loud, sick – and we knelt down before Jesus.
I didn’t realize how much I needed that in that moment until it was happening. I had been spending every waking moment worried and concerned about my children. I was working so hard to not show any ounce of resentment towards my husband. I was so exhausted. That Adoration slot I had signed us up for WEEKS ago – that I had forgotten about – was such a gift at that moment. God took everything I was feeling off of my shoulders, and placed it on His own. Earlier in the day, I thought the doctor had given me all possible peace of mind for my situation, but this was true peace. God does not leave us alone and His timing is always perfect.
As we enter into this Advent season, I would like to challenge you to truly “Prepare Him Room”. As you shop or create “magical moments” for your kids, also make room for God. We are to be WAITING for His Son to be born. So let yourself sit in the wait. Give yourself time to simply “be”. Give yourself the opportunity to set aside all of the hustle and bustle and simply stop. Prepare God room. Prepare His Son room. As we anxiously await the birth of the Savior of the World, enter into this time. God’s timing is always perfect. Prepare room in your heart to enter into the true joy that is to be had on Christmas morning.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:5