In the Weeds

When I was in my early twenties I, like many other college students, paid rent by waiting tables. Officially, we servers were only expected to manage 3-4 tables at a time, but (as life often goes) we would often find ourselves in the throes of an unexpected Monday night dinner rush ill-equipped to adequately serve our patrons and be thrust into frantically waiting on 6-10 tables at a time.

This, my friends, is an example of being, "in the weeds," which is restaurant slang for, "hopelessly behind."

Someone needed a refill. Five minutes ago. That man's food came out with a hair on it (it happens). Everyone needs extra ranch. Her burger wasn't supposed to have onions on it.

These scenarios sort of made or broke a server. Were you the type to just calmly move through, meetings needs as you could? Or the type to stand dumbfounded in the kitchen, helplessly staring at the trays of plates that needed to be delivered as soon as possible?

I've had several days recently where I have felt that familiar sense of urgency, of being "in the weeds." However, while I was able to thrive under the pressure presented by promotions for endless shrimp, I regularly find myself now seeking respite in the bathroom for yet another, "mommy time out."

It seems each of my four children is in a season of unique neediness. One desperately needs one-on-one quality time. Another simply needs step-by-step instruction for each task in order to prevent distraction. Throw in a fussy infant and potty-training toddler and you've got a recipe for daily bouts of trudging through the trenches.

But laundry must be done. Dishes must be washed. Children must be (eventually) bathed. There are dust bunnies in every corner and suspicious smells in every bathroom. When will dinner be made and must it really be nutritious, easy, AND budget-friendly? Did the dog just vomit on the rug?

When is the maid arriving to take care of this?

In thinking out this particular season of much weediness, I've wondered what it was that helped me to thrive in the restaurant setting? Maybe the feeling of, "it's just a burger" or that the night would, Lord-willing, end with me walking into the parking lot, getting in my car, and driving home. This weediness, however, seems never ending. Sure, the children are tucked into their beds each night. But in 2-3 hours, the baby will cry to be fed, the toddler will scream that she needs to be covered (again) and the six-year-old will have an accident and need his sheets changed. It's hard to think of a time where I won't be in the thick of it, wishing for the rare glimpse of a flower.

The required intentionality of parenting can be daunting, for sure. But this isn't exactly the type of job from which one can clock out. Hiding in the closet with Ben and Jerry's might bring a few moments of respite, but the eternal souls for which I will be held accountable are still waiting for me down the hall. And, chances are, they've colored on the wall in the meantime.

So, how do we do our duty in the weeds? And, how do we do it with joy?

Rejoicing in the Lord is a clear command in scripture. Just because I had a "hard day" or the baby didn't nap doesn't warrant disobedience to such direct authority.

1. We abide. We fight to abide. Because it IS better. Listen to hymns. Read the Word. Play the Bible app on your phone. Pray a lot. Reach out to friends that will faithfully pray for you and point you to Christ. Fight to abide.

2. We speak forth gratitude. The command to give thanks in "all circumstances" includes whatever circumstance you are in. Rejoicing springs forth out of gratitude. How can you be grateful? Really?

3. Love others. Serve others. Pray for others. You aren't meant to hole up and spend your afternoon naval gazing. Pray for the persecuted church. Pray for the mom with the colicky baby. Pray for your friend suffering in a season of infertility. It's true that your pain and your hard days are real, but perspective is healthy. We are all suffering, Christian. Adversity, as Jerry Bridges says, is a part of the Christian life.

So, go out in joy today and faithfully do the duty to which you have been called. Acts 17 says the Lord intentionally planned when we would live and where. It is for our good and His glory. Obey.


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