For When You Really Want to Get This Life Right - Sarah Mae
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For When You Really Want to Get This Life Right

The other day I was sitting in my comfy chair enjoying a great, page-turner type book. My four year old (Caroline is now four!) walks over and asks me to play Candy Land with her.

I don’t want to.

I want to read my book.

My very, very good book in my very, very comfy chair.

I look into her pleading blue eyes and ask, “what did you say?”

That line always buys me a few seconds to think through what my answer to her will be.

After thinking about the fact that I know I will feel so guilty if I turn her away, and what if she remembers these moments where I chose to read instead of play with her, and what if her insides hurt because her mama chooses the book over her, or what if I’m just really neurotic and this is no big deal but still WHAT IF…?

“Sure, I’ll play.”

But the truth is, I don’t like it. I’m selfish and I just want to read my book and I’ll bet she feels it. Will I ever change? Will I ever be un-selfish? Will I ever choose to engage my girl and enjoy this time together, or will I rush through it just waiting for it to be over so I can do my thing? And isn’t this how I sometimes, mostly, live my life, just waiting to get onto the next thing?

Will I ever figure out how to live well and in the moment, and with joy?

Life is really hard, and some days are awesome, and some days are so very un-awesome. So no, I’m never going to figure out how to have a together life, and I’ll certainly never have a perfect one (what a silly notion that is!). And joy? Maybe. Fullness? Definitely (because Jesus says so), but what does that mean? Maybe I should just give up trying to figure out what it means to live.

But maybe I shouldn’t.

Maybe we all are facing a hard battle (Plato), and maybe we are selfish and tired or neurotic, or whatever, but I still think there’s more, because I long for it. I feel the pull, and ultimately, I know that pull is toward heaven, but in the here and now I think there is more. I know it. Not perfect more, not tidy more, but something…

And that something has to do with hope, a hope that trumps the defeating feeling of living battle worn.

Living in the blink isn’t about figuring out how to live a perfect life, or even an always happy life. It certainly isn’t about living an easy life.

Living in the blink is about living true in the midst of the battle. It’s about living free. It’s about living with a longing in our souls that we know can never be met here, but reminds us that something so much better is coming.

Living in the blink is about being intentional without being overly idealistic. It’s about choosing the good thing in the moments, without beating ourselves up for choosing poorly sometimes. It’s about recognizing the reality of sin in this world and just under our skin without letting it define us or how we live. It’s about falling down and picking ourselves back up. Rather, it’s about falling down and getting up knowing we aren’t alone.

Living in the blink is about redemption.

I walk, I fall, I get up, I help someone else up; they help me up. I trust in the power of the Holy Spirit living in me and I keep walking. I keep on.

And if I can keep on going, if I can keep walking and hoping and trusting that God is doing something beautiful in me, then somehow, I think just maybe, I can really live.


P.S. I know there is so much more to say, and so many questions to be answered, and I really dislike triteness, so maybe I’ll be tucking these thoughts and many more onto some real pages that maybe someday you’ll read. 

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  • Michelle DeRusha

    Oh I hear and relate so well to this struggle. Every Lent, we write a sin we’d like to eradicate from our life on a slip of paper, and place it in a vase on the altar. I wrote, “Selfishness” on my paper this year (I suspect I might have written it on last year’s, too). Hoping with you, Sarah Mae…

    {and a confession: “Candy Land” is the bane of my existence…along with Monopoly!}

  • Amanda

    So often so many blogs address the issue or tell you how to parent. I like that you talk about the feelings that most of us Moms have (at least I sure do) and about the grace aspect of it. It makes me feel like there is hope for such a very very selfish person like me 🙂

    • kjshepp

      yes! and there is hope!

  • jill

    So weird…I never come on here in the mornings (it’s usually during naptime) but for some reason I did. And it was JUST after I was crying out to go to help me be more intentional with my babes. I have 3 kids under 3 and it’s crazy. I’m always feeling this pull of wanting to be with them, but then wanting to get on to “the next thing”. Thank God my hubby is really good at being fully in the moment..i’ve gleaned so much from him & still do. Anyways, don’t mean to rant. But this was for me this morning and I totally needed it! I really hope you write more about this..on here or a book. 🙂

  • Becky Castle Miller

    Teach her to read, then invite her to sit next to you on the comfy couch and read a good book!

    • Sarah Mae

      We do! 🙂

  • Missindeedy

    Well, I think you might have jumped into my head and pulled my very words right out! Thank you for giving voice to what I know I can honestly say I feel far too often. Motherhood can be a tiring road. If for no other reason than because we make it tiring ourselves. Thank you for pointing out that fullness Is promised, but that Joy is a maybe. For me, it comes down to whether I choose to put down the book and find the joy in the game. Here’s to making that choice more often!

  • Sarah Hubbell

    Thanks for this, needed it today 🙂

  • Cari Shepard

    Can I just say “ouch”? Your post hit home today. My youngest (now 11, where have the years gone?) asked me yesterday to play Thomas (we have tons of wooden Thomas the Tank Engine and friends trains) with him yesterday. He had gone and gotten the track out of storage too! His brothers were playing with him so I told him “No, Mama’s going to read the newspapers.” Your post was that 2×4 reminder that they don’t stay young for long and I really need to stop what I’m doing and play with them when they do ask because before too long they won’t be asking.

  • Bonnie Jean

    I just wanted to say that as a mother of two sons … now 20 and 18… that I think I did too much for them… and never enough for me. Taking care of you is not selfish. Shirley Dobson once said “you can’t pour from an empty pitcher.” I used to drop everything to do things with my sons or husband and then stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning some nights just to get in some “me” time… then was exhausted the next day. This resulted in adrenaline burn out and a near nervous breakdown by the time the boys were 8 and 10… about ten years ago. Even with that “warning” I still did too much… just took more “naps” when they were in school and still felt guilty for what I was not getting done or not able then to spend more time with them. If I had life to do over again, I would sometimes say to my sons (or in your case, your daughter)… nicely that “Mommy is going to read for a little while, then, at (3 o’clock or after snack time or after supper then we will play Candyland or whatever she wants to do for awhile … and keep your promises). That way they learn to respect boundaries, to delay gratification, and that mom keeps her promises. It is a “question of balance” (to take a line from a Moody Blues song). I am in my mid-fifties and have many regrets. I love my sons, but can see that like much of the current generation, they have a hard time respecting boundaries, they feel entitled, not so much to things but to me and my time, and add to that the natural tendency of young people to feel that they are the center of the universe, it is harder for them to accept some of the realities of the adult life they are slowly coming into. You have to judge how much time you are spending on you and on your child… but far too many Christian mothers think that giving to everyone and never saying no is a virtue. When do they have time to be alone with God to read His Word and Pray ??? Jesus said no to his disciples and no to the crowds at times… He knew when He had to be alone with the father and where He had to be and it did not depend on the wishes of others. Sometimes He met the needs of others right away and sometimes He did not. We have to ask God … are we truly being selfish ? or selfless ? or when we need to take time to take care of ourselves. Jesus had a 3 year ministry in which He accomplished great things… but … He also managed His time according to God’s plan… not man’s plan or the disciples’ plan or even the needs of others. We have to look at how God would have us spend our time… even as mothers of young ones. There are times when their needs truly come first… I breast fed for more than four years with only a three month break between when one son was weaned and the other born… so I was breastfeeding while pregnant… proof that breastfeeding does not keep one from getting pregnant ! It was during that early stage that 99% of the time, their needs came first. But later, when they truly could sometimes play on their own or later play together… I too often guiltily rather than gladly … gave too much and now wish I had saved some time for me. I would not be so broken now, and they would be more independent and less selfish, I believe … respecting boundaries better and better able to create their own. For what it is worth, once in awhile… keep reading… but let your daughter know that she is important and plan time with her and keep it !!!

    • Sarah

      Thank you for sharing your perspective now that you’re further along the motherhood journey! I like what you wrote last best, “once in awhile… keep reading…but let your daughter know that she is important and plan time with her and keep it!”

      Your words will help this tired mama let go of some guilt when I just can’t play.

    • Sarah Mae

      Thanks for your perspective, I agree with you that us moms need to be filled, we need to grow as people and nourish our souls. For me, I don’t spend enough time putting my books away, so to speak, so I have the opposite problem! But I’ll keep reading, but even more so, I want to choose to with my babes and play with them…I want to learn how to enjoy it.

  • Becca

    I love that you’re aware of moments like these and think about the long-term of even small, simple moments. My mom was always sweet, always home, always taking care of us…but I literally have NO memories of her playing with me. I know it upset Dad that she always said “no” to games, even when Dad was playing with us. She doesn’t like living outside her comfort zone, and her comfort zone is being holed up in her house, crocheting baby clothes and blankets for church, or reading some historical book or period fiction. I really struggle with the sin of disrespect towards her, though she is a believer and loves/prays for me.

    Sorry for the little rant. This post just reminded me of that 🙂

    Sarah, thank you for sharing. You are an eternal encouragement. I am storing these thoughts away for when we start our family in the next year or two.

    • Sarah Mae

      Becca, the words about your mom took the wind out of my sails because I fear I don’t play with my kids enough. Thank you for this word today.

    • Christin

      I, too, needed to hear this. I am often the mom who doesn’t play while my husband does. 🙁 Though, I have been saying “yes” more often, lately. 🙂 I will definitely be more intentional about saying yes, even if I don’t feel like it.

  • Rosann

    Oh, Sarah, how I’ve been there…with that really good book…and a sweet 4 year old little girl looking at me begging me…please mommy, will you play with me? I’ve been there. You aren’t alone. Even knowing what we should do doesn’t change our internal selfish desires or response. So thankful for God’s grace. At lunch today I was intentional with my little one. When normally I would be checking email or Facebook on my phone while she eats, today I sat down next to her with two books from her bookshelf and read to her. To see the delight in her eyes was so convicting. This mama needs to be more intentional because one day…one day my baby girl will not want to have that time with me because she’ll want to have it with her friends instead.

  • Melanie Gillgrist

    I love the phrase “living in the blink’. Such good stuff you are naming and living into. My word for the year is Stand. Still not sure where it will go, but so far God has led me to seeing what it is not- It is not sitting and it is not running (helpful, right?). When I sit I say things like “I should have known better”, “I’m a bad mom”…I give up and don’t want to try again. When I run- I go out and try on my own will power to be a ‘perfect’ mom. “I’m going to make this happen, I will try harder”
    To stand- at least in this analogy, is to acknowledge life around me, to wait for God to lift me up, to do this life With Him, in step. He’s ok when I lag behind and when I run ahead, he wants me with him….but his compassion never fails.

    Still figuring out what it might look like….but know that your words help me process it all!

  • Kim

    Ok I just started reading your blog, like just! I’m in tears to just know that somebody else out there feels exactly like I do or thinks some of the same things. I get so caught up in myself and my issues and I think I’m the only one who feels bad for making a poor decision or who struggles with wanting more or being selfish or, or, or. Thank you friend. Thank you for making me feel “normal”. You just made my day. I am not alone e en though as a momma I often feel that way

    • kjshepp

      my thought exactly! thank you Sarah Mae for helping to see we aren’t the only ones feeling this way!

  • tammy@if meadows speak

    Wow. This is super- duper-ubber powerful! Like packing a punch…..I’m seeing stars, in a very good way, punch. This was un-lurking-worthy!

  • Kara @ The Chuppies

    I hadn’t read this post until just now…
    But played Candy Land this afternoon with a special little person (and am smiling to myself because the internal battle was the same).

    And it is a “blink”…
    Our oldest is 12 and 1/2… I wish I’d played more games of Candy Land…or at least Chutes and Ladders.

    Forgetting what lies behind…pressing on…eyes lifted to Him…listening for His nudge in those moments where there is a choice between self and self-less.

    I really appreciated this one Sarah Mae. Love, K

  • Hollie

    Oh, I so needed to hear this today! I’m sure you get that a lot, but seriously – I did. Thank you! <3

  • Jessica Newland

    I tell you – you’ve been reading my mind. So convicted lately about saying “yes” more often to my kiddos. I’m such a selfish person. I hate that, but it’s true. I just blogged about this same thing the other day. Thank you for your online presence & ministry. Appreciate you so much.

  • Kelli

    I’ve been meaning to let you know that Desperate has been the gift of the year so far to me and 8 other friends. We started an online book discussion with 3 “Big Mamas” and 6 “Lil Mamas”. We are kind of scattered and at 9 different seasons of life and lifestyles, thus the online format. It has been balm for all of our souls. Literally. Thanks to you and Sally so much for your vulnerability and love for mothers. I wish you could get a glimpse at our strings of conversation that are filled with encouragement and “me too!”s and confessions. It has been God-ordained in the timing and a precious gift. We are planning to meet together next week and I’d love to send you a picture! Thanks again for your example and ministry through the words of this book!

  • kjshepp

    ok, so i read this, made a few comments, and moved on with my morning. THEN IT HIT ME. This struggle isn’t just with my younger kids, it’s with my older kids (teenagers) too! It’s what i’m still praying for when they are 15 and 12! And it’s not just about them asking for my time, but me giving them my time when they don’t ask for it (and I know they need it). I’m learning that teens are just as needy as my little ones, both in a good way.

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