Today was not the happiest of days here. In fact, it was one of those disheartening days that I typically do not share about publicly online since, years ago, God laid it on my heart to use this blog and my Facebook page as places to share mostly things that are encouraging, educational, inspiring, or heartwarming.
So why share something different today?
Because I sense that doing so may actually be encouraging to someone. For, I bet there is someone out there reading this right now in the midst of "one of those days". I would guess there is someone who knows that life is blessed, yet still feels distressed. I dare say there may be someone who has plenty to sing praises about, yet feels too out of tune to do anything but wallow and wail today.
Well, let me tell you. You are not alone.
Things in my life - and in lots of folks' lives - may look pretty ideal, but, let me assure you, they are very, very real. Even when nothing tragic happens, little "straws" build up and, out of the blue, break "Mama Camel's" back.
You get to bed too late one night and just want to sleep in the next day, but, then, a child who has wet one bed without you knowing it crawls in beside you and wakes you up by wetting your bed.. and you!
You shower, strip the bed, throw the linens in the laundry, and opt to use the early wake up time to read devotionals and pray. But, then, your whole crew of kids, who also went to bed too late the night before, wake up and start squabbling. At that point, you discover the other bed that was wet during the night. Super. More laundry to do on the one day a week that you attempt to take a break from most work and chores.
Not to be too chagrined, you carry on with the morning, offering the children supplies to make Valentines.
Later, you begin to make your family a Valentine breakfast, eager to start the communal part of the day off with smiles. As you do, you are hopeful that the day will turn out to be a joy-filled relaxing one. You'll enjoy the Valentine's breakfast you are preparing, then, the family will be off to Mass, where one child will serve on the altar, while another sings in the choir, and a third gets Mom-and-Dad time in a pew. Then, there will be more fun food at lunch, plus plenty of time for family read alouds, maybe some games, a cuddly movie... You know, good old-fashioned, happy togetherness.
An ideal day awaits.
When you ask the children to get dressed, one child begins to act out. Meanwhile, as you prep breakfast, you go to clear the dishes that someone left in the sink, only to realize that the dishwasher is full, but, thankfully, clean. You glance at the clock and realize that there is no time to empty the dishwasher, get the sink cleared, finish making breakfast, and get food into bellies in time to get family to Mass. Further, not only does no one seem motivated to help you set the table, but the child who was acting out when told to get dressed is now continuing to carry on, "needing" your help with something while another "needs" your attention for something else...
You speak aloud that you are doing your part and need others to do theirs. You begin to list what needs to be done, what you have and will do, and what others might take responsibility for. You, fail, however to keep your list related to just the moment at hand, and worse, you fail to speak with a calming, cheerful, encouraging voice as that one child ratchets up the getting dressed nonsense.
At that point, your husband snaps at you, unhappy with your "litany". His negative words are among the first he has spoken to you that day.
And so the devil makes his entrance, slowly, steadily, into the day...
Breakfast becomes a farce: heart-shaped pancakes and handmade Valentines juxtaposed with Dad's quiet disdain and Mom's tear-brimmed eyes as a child, who at the moment acts more grown up than parents, attempts to brighten everyone's moods. You begin to pray inside your head that you can hold your tears back and that Mass will be heartening and healing.
You continue to do so on the way to Mass, but emotion is too strong. The silent tears begin to flow and the more you try to stop them, the more they come.
Nothing dramatic has gone wrong. Just little things. Just life. But sometimes those little things hit hard and a day dissolves into a sadness so great that even Mass and one child's loving encouragement cannot help the hurt.
As the day continues, a headache complicates heartache.
Little things begin to go right, but other little things continue to go wrong. The latter get magnified by the devil's ceaseless niggling.
You know what is happening, yet, for some reason today, you cannot turn the tide. Tears keep coming forth.
You beat yourself up for being ridiculous. You remind yourself that have a warm home to protect you on a frigid day. Festive foods grace your table. Your family is all there and healthy. Yet, alas, you still feel sorrow-filled.
Lent. It is here.
Mercy and grace. They are, too. Sometimes they are even spoken to you through a child who asks you not to cry, lets you know you are loved, and tells you, "Today is over. Tomorrow will be new."
That it will.
But, before this day ends completely, I share this snippet of reality. I do so not to blaze something gloomy it into annals of memory, but to be authentic and to affirm that while things may often seem ideal in other people's worlds, it is likely they are not.
None of us is perfect. No day is either.
We are called to live the fabulous and the flaw-filled equally. We are asked to carry crosses and, although sometimes, we do so with oh so little fortitude and seeming grace, grace still abounds.
Even on days when the goodness and glory of life gets overshadowed by mountains of silly little things - or even horrendous big things - one thing remains eternal. LOVE.
You may not feel it. You may not embrace it. You may not express it, nor receive it well on a given day, but it is always there.
Praise be to God that even when so little seems ideal, love IS real.
Whether today was a happy Valentine's Day or not for you, may you never forget that you are loved. I offer prayers for you right now. Honestly. I am going to bed praying for anyone and everyone whose day was less than ideal. You are loved.