The dishes are piled high and the clothes in the dryer need to be folded. I must make dental appointments for the older kids and… shoot, we’re almost out of toilet paper. Where’s my shopping list? My oldest son is yelling for homework help, but I can barely hear him above the sound of the running faucet and my daughter, asking loudly, what “TJLHG” spells. I yell back at my first born to “hold on a minute” and turn to my daughter to inform her that, like the last group of letters she combined, these don’t spell anything. I nearly trip over my youngest son as I rotate back toward the sink. He’s been tugging at my shirt and asking for snacks these past 4 minutes. The dog’s whining to be let out. The UPS guy just rang the doorbell. I have 3 text messages waiting for a response and my voicemail box is full.
This season of Motherhood is noisy. It’s crowded and cramped and loud and exasperating. Between kids and husbands and school PTO’s and social media and all the other things vying for our attention, being “in the moment” feels impossible. “Distracted” is our constant state of being.
But what other option is there? Reality is… life is not simple. Sure, there may be seasons of simplicity, but at any given moment “life happens” and you’re right back into the chaos of a bounced check… or the flu invading your household… or both cars breaking down on the same day. It can seem impossible to stand in the midst of the noise and maintain a sense of being truly present. We need a mentor – someone who knows what it’s like to live un-distracted – to help us navigate our daily craziness and learn to keep “the main thing the main thing.” Good news, mamas: We’ve got one.
What Would Jesus Do
During his life on earth, Jesus gave us many beautiful examples of what living in the present could look like. Here is a guy who was constantly being followed by crowds of needy people wanting something from him (sounds like motherhood, right?) and yet, in the midst of all that noise, we see Jesus completely tuned in to what was most important in each moment.
Luke 5 tells us about a time when Jesus was in a house, surrounded by a crowd, as he was teaching about God. The passage says people came from all over the region to hear what he had to say. Even his biggest critics, the teachers of the Law, were in attendance, sitting right next to Jesus as he spoke. Talk about a reason to be distracted! The story goes on to describe a group of friends desperate to get their buddy, who is unable to walk, to Jesus, in hopes that their friend will be healed. The crowds are too thick and there’s no way these guys can carry their friend, confined to a mat, through the masses. But these men are desperate and they have great faith — faith that if Jesus will just look at their friend, something miraculous will happen.
Picture the scene: Hundreds of people are crowded around this house. People leaning in as far as they can to hear the words of Jesus. Children are running around (probably looking for snacks) and mothers are shushing their crying babies. Even though everyone is wanting it to be quiet, I am most certain that it was not. Somewhere in the crowd, a group of men struggle to push through, dragging their friend on his mat. One of them has an idea. It’s crazy, but it just might work.
Jesus Models Being Present
Meanwhile, this is how I picture the scene inside the house. Jesus is teaching. He’s tuned-in to the Father and letting the Spirit guide his words. Maybe he’s hungry or hot or tired or all three, but there are so many people crammed into this house to hear him, he continues to speak. Suddenly, a piece of tile from the roof falls into Jesus’ lap. A cloud of dust and another few pieces hit the teachers of the Law seated next to him. Light fills the cramped house as a giant hole appears, from where the tiles have fallen. Jesus stops talking, the crowd starts yelling. What is going on? Can you image how loud it was? The roof is caving in!
Jesus looks up and sees the faces of the friends staring down. He can hear them yelling at each other as they slide their paralyzed friend’s mat over the freshly cut hole and begin to lower him down. The mat lands with a thud at the feet of Jesus. There are hundreds of people watching, including a group of religious men who hate him, and they are all waiting to see what he’s going to do.
Here is what I, in my usual state of “distractedness,” would have done: 1. Freak out over the giant hole in my friend’s house; 2. Apologize to everyone in attendance for the interruption and tile dust in their hair; 3. Yell at the guys who made the hole. But Luke 5:20-26 tells us that Jesus, in the midst of the chaos and noise, places all of his attention onto the man lying on the mat. He knows exactly what this immobile man longs for, and without hesitation, he gives it to him. First Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” and a few seconds later, “Get up. Take your mat and go home.”
Seeing the Unseen
Jesus doesn’t freak out about the hole in the roof. Looking past the mess, he sees the hearts of the faith-filled men, willing to do whatever it takes to see their friend healed. He doesn’t tell the loud and confused crowd to quiet down, but heals in the midst of the noise. Jesus sees the request, surrounded by distraction, and responds in focused, present love. Oh, to be like Jesus!
As I look at the state in my kitchen and the very unfinished “to-do” list on the fridge, I see important things that need to be dealt with. But when I let Jesus be my mentor for living in the present, I can look past the messy counter and see my three kids calling for my attention. Suddenly, I see that I have a choice: I can focus on the chaos and the loudness of life, or I can look past the mess and navigate through the noise to really see and hear the true needs of the ones closest to me.
Life is complicated, but choosing what and who gets our greatest focus and attention doesn’t have to be. Let’s look to Jesus as our example of what it means to live and love in the present. Allow these words of the Apostle Paul to be our anthem for mothering well… in the midst of the noise:
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18