I don’t feel like I’m living in the real world. The things I’m living through are meant for dystopian novels and action films. The hero should be here by now and the credits should have rolled a long time ago. Every day I make decisions that I’m unsure about and then feel guilt for the path I’ve chosen almost immediately. There is a war going on inside of me everyday. Sure, on the correct time line there would be little battles and a gauntlet of challenges in my life but here the stakes are higher. At least that’s what it feels like. We’ve been on high alert for so long and our bodies have been fighting or flying or freezing for months. The seasons don’t even register, the overarching theme is crisis. There are voices saying now is the time to create, to lose weight, to invest, you’d be stupid not to.
I am LDS, once upon a time we were called mormon a name we accepted but have since released, as it no longer serves us. A religion often known for its “nos”. No sex before marriage, no shopping on Sundays, no coffee.
I’ve been drinking coffee. A few weeks into lockdown, gripped by doubt and fear, I stopped sleeping well. But I woke up to 3 tiny eager faces who still needed me. I woke up to 1 face in the mirror who still needed to be whole and happy. I woke up to a man who felt the weight of work and survival, who needed comfort and love.
Without sleep there was so much less of me. I prayed and asked for help. I showered and tried to find energy in cold water and coaxed sleep to me through exercise. Maybe with time things would have worked themselves out but I didn’t wait, I didn’t suffer through it. I bought the coffee and every morning I pressed the grounds down with my fears and filled an empty Wonder Woman mug with that hot drink.
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I’m drinking the coffee, Jesus. I know you see me.
I’m drinking the coffee and being kind.
I’m pouring the creamer and teaching people to share.
I’m drinking the coffee and I’m writing again.
I’m drinking the coffee and listening to a man’s career being solidified by trials and adaptation.
Forgive me Lord, for the beverages I have poured.
Standards and righteous desires need to rest, and grace needs to take center stage.
The juggling act is on pause, the hustle is on the back burner and grace has the floor. Whatever needs to happen to get me to next month, to tomorrow, to lunchtime, that is what I will do and grace will be poured through me and into a mug. Some days it will be sipped gingerly, each drop savored and tinged with guilt. Some days it will be guzzled about halfway and left to grow cold as the day passes by.
Taking the easy way out is always looked down upon. But when it comes to Heavenly Father looking down on me, I know it’s with love. Maybe a little smile and a head nod, perhaps an accompanying shrug. Jesus said “let the little children come unto me”. Was that an offer to babysit because it feels like an offer to babysit. Do I hide in the closet occasionally and remember the beforetimes where there was the library, the gym daycare and open museums and fast food playgrounds? Yes. Yes, I do. In these times I know Heavenly Father has his face twisted up in concern. The Holy Ghost sitting there with me as guardian angels make sure no one changes Netflix to ‘American Horror Story’ or busts out through the front door. But we breath and we sigh, we pick up our sorry selves and emerge fully prepared to give long hugs and literally nothing else.
I am raising tiny people with voices and needs, which even in a perfect world is a daunting task. But I am raising them in a world that is in full transition, things change so fast that I don’t know which way to turn. That’s where the coffee and the grace come in. If there is nothing else in this life that my children learn from me other than how to forgive themselves, then I will feel like a successful parent. Every good and righteous work is hard, and hard work means you will inevitably make mistakes. That’s where the lesson lies.
I can teach them pride, the ugly pride that will not move even when she is firmly in the wrong and in desperate need of help. Or I can teach them the power of grace, grace precedes everything else necessary to progress. Grace precedes the apology, the learning and the repentance process. Before you face anyone else for your mistakes you first face yourself. What am I modeling for them when I make space for imperfection and forgive myself? What do the small breaks throughout the day say to their little eyes, always watching? I’m saying, Mom is strong because Mom lets herself be weak.
So what will my children think when they are grown, whether in the Church or not, when they remember me clutching a warm cup of temporary relief, during world wide unrest? Knowing it went against what the Church taught?
They’ll think, mom knew her limits, mom did what she had to do, mom was a badass.