It was two decades ago, but I vividly remember the week my husband “surprised” me, his very pregnant wife, with an untrained, chewing, whining, fence jumping, five-month old puppy. It had been a rough few days when I finally reached my limit. The whining from our unhappy pup had driven this hormonal mother of 2 toddlers to the brink of a mental breakdown and when our three-year-old Kevin began playing the drums by banging a pot with a wooden spoon and son number two began “singing” loudly at the top of his lungs, the noise became unbearable. Blessedly, with the racket of singing and drumming I knew I could keep an audible “eye” on the boys. I had to use the restroom and thought “Good, I’ll just go into the bathroom, sit on the toilet, take a sanity break, and enjoy a bit of ‘quiet’ for a minute”.
This was overly-optimistic.
Moms know that the bathroom isn’t the sanctuary it should be with little ones around. No sooner had I plunked myself onto the seat than two toddlers made their way through the door. “Watcha doin’, Mama?” our oldest queried while his brother opened a drawer and began pulling out Q-tips. With the door wide open I couldn’t even pretend to ignore the howls of our miserable Labrador. It was the final straw. “Boys! Just give me a little peace! Just a little peace!” I begged…in desperation. They obeyed and left the room instantly. It became too quiet.
“What are they up to?” I wondered. And as I sat there, I began feeling guilty for so angrily demanding peace from my children. But, almost as quickly as they’d exited, our sons reappeared. I was still sitting on the toilet and Kevin, palms cupped upward, and arms outstretched , made his grand presentation: one square of toilet paper. “Here yuh go Mama. Here’s a lil’ piece.”
My days are now quieter with most of our children grown, but my heart still has days during which it demands “Peace! Just a little peace!” Sadly, my ideas for what brings peace and happiness are so often misguided. All that I imagine will satiate my longing for peace and joy, all that I attempt, create, speak, or accomplish is unable to satisfy my heart’s desire. I can read every parenting book and still fail as a mother. I can look at Pinterest, learn creative homemaking skills, and still reek of selfishness. I need Christ and the promise of His peace and fulfillment which extends deeper than new techniques and strategies. His peace aims at more than just a temporary lull in the storm of life. It aims at lasting satisfaction.
Thunderstorms in the Midwest come with blazing light and booming voices: quick downpours giving way to bright sunshine and warmth. But as quickly as the first storm dissipates, another storm moves in to beat the earth. I don’t want a Midwest heart: a stormy spirit that is warm and bright one moment and booming irritably the next…a heart that reflects an elevation of my desires above God’s. I want a consistently sunny heart, warmed by Christ.
So when my heart demands Facebook instead of face-to-face time with my children, or TV instead of the Bible, I must ask myself, what, or who, has the seat of authority in my life? It took sitting very humbly, very humanly, on a porcelain throne for me to first ask that question. Call it toilet paper theology if you will: the remembrance that success and a peaceful heart come only when surrendered to the One who sits on the real throne.