The fourth reply

Dear Rachael,

You’re so right. Every season has its challenges as well as its joys – and very often the challenges are the flip side of the joys. If only we could remember that more often! In your case, the joys are the national relationships, and that was exactly the same for me in Nepal. But I do think that the season of tiny, needy babies is difficult no matter what country you’re in – and there are certainly different issues to deal with in less developed cultures. We had exactly the same issues with never being allowed to let Stephen cry himself to sleep – and that led to all sorts of parenting insecurities within me (am I doing everything wrong?) as well as exhaustion! I’m so glad you have access to mp3 sermons. Aren’t they brilliant! I’m devoted to them now as well, but these days I’m using them while running, not while I’m rocking babies at 3am!

I think extended survival seasons are exhausting – and they can be a result of anything – ill health, redundancy, uncertainty, parenting small children. For me, my other extended demanding season was related to home-schooling our three boys in the middle of the Himalayas, and in the middle of the rain. I remember clinging on to God and praying desperately for more patience and more grace. And sometimes in my desperate prayers, I would mistakenly imagine a whole well of ‘patience’ being poured easily into my soul from some heavenly storehouse, reviving me and refreshing me in supernatural ways(!). And while there may have been moments where God worked like that, there were actually years where he showed me that the only way to grow in patience was to walk a path where patience and trust was required. He wanted me to actually take a deep breath in and go back to the maths book and the stories. He wanted to transform me in the middle of it. And he kept showing me that the litmus test of my spirituality was not how I was when I was alone with him (reading his word and praying – which was wonderful) – but how I was in the middle of the maths lesson and the weekend stories – while one child was refusing to work and another one was crying and the other had spilt his milk all over the floor. Those were the moments when he taught me about his patience and grace. In the middle of it!

And now that I’m back in Australia, I’m realizing that it’s just the same here. While we might long for easy, quick solutions to the struggles we encounter within our parenting or other roles, more often than not, our Lord tells us to press on, to keep going, one day at a time, believing that he is at work in us, through his spirit to make us more like him – often very slowly! And while I think about his work within us, I’m even more astounded by his patience and grace towards me and to his whole creation (not wanting any of us to perish) …

Keep pressing on,

Love Naomi