Choosing Compassion in the Midst of Interruptions
Every day when I put my babies down for their nap, I typically go into crazy-over-drive-work-mode. It is my hour (sometimes 2!!) to get as much done as possible. Prepping dinner, folding laundry, mopping the floors, typing up blog posts, editing photos, responding to e-mails…It is my time to do all the things that I usually don’t attempt doing while my children are awake. And sometimes it is my time to just sit and chill the heck out for a minute.
So, you can probably imagine how annoyed I get when 1 of my children (typically Atlas) refuses to nap and derails my plans. Some days I can totally roll with it, but other days I die a little on the inside when I hear him walking down the stairs and asking, “Hey, Mom! What are you doing? I’m not tired. Can I ride my bike? What are you eating? Can I have a bite? Is Andi Rose awake? Can I go look in her room?”
It’s hard. The other night at dinner, I think my family was half way through with their meals before I took the first bite of mine because every time I went to sit down, someone needed something. I was running back and forth from the kitchen to the table until finally I was all, “GUYS! Mommy is tired! Can I please just sit for the duration of this meal?” Then Andi Rose answered me by throwing her spoon on the ground. *Message received* No rest for the weary.
Last week while I was reading about Jesus miraculously feeding over 5,000 people in John 6, something in that story jumped right off the pages of my Bible and into my heart. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, we learn that just before Jesus performed this miracle, He was actually trying to escape the crowds that had been following Him because He wanted to be alone and rest. Jesus was exhausted. He had been surrounded by swarms of people – and the people were all begging Him to heal their illnesses and answer their endless questions and the more He did for them, the more they wanted from Him and with every lesson He taught them, it seemed as though many of them were still missing the point. I mean, if that doesn’t sound like a day in the life of a mother, I don’t know what does.
I was initially struck by the fact that Jesus needed rest – so badly, that he was actually going to pretty great lengths to seek it out. The Bible says He withdrew by a boat to a remote place to be alone. I can’t count how many times I have said, “I JUST NEED A MINUTE TO MYSELF!” Jesus also needed a quiet minute to Himself every once in a while. I find so much comfort in that – Knowing that my God can relate to me. But in Mark 14, we learn that even in His exhaustion, Jesus didn’t lose sight of his purpose.
Crowds of people had followed Jesus when they saw him escaping to a remote place by boat. How often do my children do this? I joke to Dave that the quickest way to get my kids’ attention is to sit down and get comfortable or to get in the shower. It is like in that moment they need me more than EVER! It is maddening, so I can’t help but think that this situation was also a bit unnerving for Jesus.
But the Bible says Jesus felt compassion for the crowds who had followed him. (And I think it is also worth mentioning, that Jesus had a hurting heart during all of this. He was mourning the death of John – one of his dearest friends.) In the midst of his own sadness and fatigue, he still felt compassion for those who so desperately needed him. Jesus took time that day – time that he had set aside for himself – to heal the sick, feed the hungry and teach hurting and curious hearts about God.
Reading about the compassion Jesus had in his tired moment, convicted me, encouraged me and challenged me. Ever since I read that, I just keep praying that what my kids grow up seeing is a mom who is continually moved with compassion – for them and for others. I’m praying that when my plans get interrupted, I can quickly regroup so that my focus remains on my purpose – and my purpose isn’t to have a clean house or even a great blog right now – my purpose is to serve and lead my children.
I think it is important to note that Jesus did eventually circle back around to His own need for solitude and escape to pray. He recognized His need for rest, prayer and time alone with His Father, which tells me there is nothing wrong with seeking out time to ourselves to get rejuvenated. However, the next time I seek solitude or carve out time for myself and instead am met with an interruption, I’m choosing to view the situation, not as a setback, but as a signal from God that He has work for me to do (which I know, is so much easier said than done).
I’m sure most moms can agree that we go through life feeling constantly interrupted – we rarely finish a meal, a chore, a thought or a sentence – but what if we view those interruptions as opportunities for Christ to work through us and in us? How different would our responses be to those interruptions? What if we paused and allowed compassion to move us and drive our actions? How different would the outcome be?
And on a similar note, when my kids interrupt my plans I also remind myself that one day I’ll be the one interrupting them. They will be grown with lives all their own and I’ll be old and all but forgotten, and I’ll call them telling them they need to come pick me up right away because I’ve got an emergency. And then when they arrive at my door, I’ll be dressed in my fur coat wearing my bright red lipstick with my walker in hand telling them that I’m all ready for a day at Nordstrom’s and then on the ride there I will tell them about all the times I dropped everything because they had an ’emergency.’ (I’m seriously laughing out loud picturing this scenario as I type it – Poor Atlas and Andi Rose – they will have to deal with Old Lady Ashley one day and I suspect Old Lady Ashley will be a real handful.)
And on that note, this post is being interrupted by the sound of tiny feet running down the stairs to find me….