When a Sippy Cup Straw is the Last Straw | Marvelous Mundane
This morning was one of those moments.
I was standing at the sink washing dirty sippy cups.
You know when your kid can drink just fine from a regular cup, but you aren’t ready to wash the floor five times a day? Yeah, that’s me. And while any floor in this house of three boys could use a good scrubbing five times a day, ain't nobody got time for that.
But oh these sippy cup straws. If you don’t hurry and wash them the second they finish their leisurely drink, little drops of milk instantly morph into nasty sticky clumps.
Washing sippy cups calls for special tools; these miniscule little brushes that wash away the nasty and preserve the safe sippy cup life for one more day. These brushes are small enough to fit a straw, which also makes them small enough to disappear anywhere, at anytime.
Like this morning.
Standing there at the sink, searching the pile of clean dishes and the sink of dirty dishes for this mini-brush, I felt my frustration growing. My emotions rising. A tough conversation still weighed on my heart from the night before, and my eyes were just as heavy as my heart after a night of toddler sleep interruptions. A disappearing brush was my emotional last straw.
Yet in the same moment, I felt the silliness of stressing over a straw. And I knew the reality:
This wasn’t really about a nasty sippy cup straw or a disappearing brush.
It was about my heart, and the rest my heart was looking for in my surroundings.
You know these moments? Those days?
It happens when a dropped glass shatters your last bit of barely-there sanity,
When a torn trash bag leaks who-knows-what brown liquid across the kitchen,
When a tipped over basket of just folded laundry scatters over the living room floor,
When some desperately needed quiet is cut short by a little nap rebellion staged in the toddler’s room down the hall.
And your emotions scream, “I can’t do this!” while you stifle the cry and swallow the tears and put on your best face for these little faces looking at you to know, is everything going to be okay?
Or maybe it’s the day of that dreaded phone call.
The day the uneasy rumblings in your marriage turned into the complete collapse of your hopes,
The day your bank account crept down into the red while the bills climbed up past the dust-covered chandelier,
The day your questions and guesses and wonderings were affirmed by a doctor’s serious-faced diagnosis.
It’s then that these wild-child, free-spirit emotions of ours seem more like enemies on a revenge mission; whispering worst case scenarios, digging into our deepest fears, taunting us,"You can’t make it through this, who are you kidding?” And those little eyes still watching us, wondering, is everything going to be okay?
It’s then that we wish for a fairy godmother, a magic potion, or even a time-travel machine.
In the midst of this survival mode, we aren’t often grasping for new perspective. Understandably. Sometimes the new perspectives offered to us seem to come from some fantasy land of fairies and unicorns; sometimes the perspectives pushed to us seem to force us into some kind of emotionless plastic mold; sometimes the perspectives paint an even darker, more hopeless world; sometimes the perspectives glorify the possibilities in the future without acknowledging the challenges in our present realities.
One of the hardest challenges we face as a mom is not the stretched-apart stomach muscles, the split-up nights, or the saucy-mouthed preschooler. Our greatest challenge is daily, honestly, answering the question, “How will I think about this life in front of me because of what I know about God?”.
It is the grace of perspective. Yes, grace. Because perspective isn’t about stifling our emotions and denying our pain.
It’s not about comparison.
It’s not a stern, “Just eat your supper because there are starving children in Africa who wish they had this food”.
It’s not a patronizing, “Suck it up, buttercup”.
It’s not a little-too-cheery, “Well, everything works out for good”.
The grace of perspective walks with us through our pain and confusion and frustration, bringing us into the arms of an already-there God. And there, we know these feelings are real, these feelings are here, these feelings accompany our humanity- but these feelings, they do not define our future, they do not dictate our worth, they do not decide truth, they do not determine reality. So as we wrestle with the co-existance of a free-will that allows injustice and abandonment, alongside the presence of an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, we can rest for a moment.
For a lifetime.
Because that perfect life we can’t quite get together? It was lived for us by Jesus Christ. The pain of abandonment and scorn and abuse? It was felt for us by Jesus Christ. That love we long for, the redemptive ending we crave? It was given to us through Jesus Christ. When our life doesn’t seem to line up with the story of hope, and the words of faith and grace seem like empty promises, and the nearness of God seems like silence, we can rest then too. Because it doesn’t rest on you.
And when our feelings tell us otherwise.
When they scream we’ve messed up our children and missed out on our life.
When they tell us only fear and failure are waiting in our future.
When they whisper repeated ridicule and rejection.
We don’t have to fight them. That fight, it was won two thousands years ago when the power of God breathed life back into the broken body of Jesus in a dark tomb. And this power, it has crossed over two milleniums and lives inside you, inside me, in everyone who has reached out for this gift of life. Our fight is not against the challenges of life on this broken earth among a broken humanity; our fight is to wade through the misconceptions, the disbelief, the misunderstandings, the deceptive sin, to a clear view of Jesus Christ.
To a deeper understanding of how a life lived thousands of years ago is somehow living inside us.
To a stronger grasp of how that already-lived life gives hope and purpose and strength to this being-lived life.
To know the embrace of the one who experienced the depth of the pain and suffering and hatred and betrayal this world offers.
He speaks the words we can’t pray. He knows the feelings we can’t describe. He is here. He lived that life on earth as one of us, so we can know Him as God-with-us.
The grace of perspective beckons our hearts to find rest and life in the person of Jesus Christ. And when we find this life, when we sit in this rest, we will see most clearly our place in this moment on this earth.