Let Go and Welcome the Light

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nicole t walters -let go and welcome light-3

A gentle whisper in my ear broke through my early morning dream. I sat up quickly when the sunlight filtering through our paisley curtains cast a crimson glow across my son’s face. The unwelcome light accused me and immediately my self-berating thoughts began:

I did it again. I promised this day would be different. I would get up while it was still dark and spend time with God. I know I need it and it is a new year. I can’t do anything right.”

“Play with me, Mommy?” My six-year old’s big brown eyes danced with hope as I was caught up in my inner dialogue of despair. My first instinct was to decline his request and send him on his way. My husband and daughter’s snores told me I could hand my son an electronic device and still have time to hit my yoga mat before they woke.

In the split second between his request and my response, there was a war raging inside my head. I thought back to the previous day when I sat at the dining room table with papers scattered all around. My half filled out bullet journal from last year sat there mocking me. You failure, the uncompleted to-do lists said. The daily gratitude page was half filled out, telling me I was ungrateful. You’re lazy, said the books I intended to read but hadn’t. The pieces I needed to have already written because deadlines were looming, calling me: Procrastinator. And worse of all, the scriptures I hadn’t memorized, the devotional I was reading that I was weeks behind on said: Bad Christian.

I ripped out the accusing pages one by one. I stared at the crumpled mess on the floor and wanted to shout at them, “You don’t define me. I am going to change. This time will be different.” After over three decades of living with this inner dialogue, I know my tendencies by now. I’m all or nothing. If I can’t follow through with every stroke of my schedule, the whole plan is abandoned. If I say I am going to get up and work out, read my Bible, and pray every morning and instead oversleep (again), then I will go the whole day without doing any of those things.

I’ve already failed, so what’s the point in trying?

All those stories so ingrained in my early upbringing in the faith, run through my mind. Meant to encourage us towards spiritual disciplines, these stories set a bar of perfectionism I have been trying to attain every since. There was the one about a certain man of faith who never once missed a day reading his Bible. When he got sick towards the end of his life, his wife sat by his hospital bed and read it to him each day. There is the man praised because he didn’t miss a single Sunday of church even when his child was sick in the hospital or the woman who showed up to rock babies every weekend for decades. I was always told faithfulness to a task proves faithfulness to God … thus I am unfaithful.

This bent towards perfectionism has been killing me for years, snuffing out a fire of intimacy with God that used to burn brightly. And I’m so tired of it. I spent the days leading up to the New Year asking God to help me let go of it and holding tightly to the still, small moments when my kind and gentle Father puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “Come play with me. Just come be with me.” 

I know in my head that Jesus doesn’t require so much of me, but this year I want to get this knowledge to my heart. I want to learn to be present with God and where I am in the moment.

All this whirring of activity came to a screeching halt in my head as I made a choice.

I reached out and took my son’s hand. For the next hour we sat knee to knee in the middle of a mess of lego blocks that became a tiny city under our fingers. Faces close together we whispered lest we wake the others and ruin these holy minutes. Time together like this is so rare and precious and I begged God to forgive me for the times I have said no so I can seek more “important” pursuits. The spiritual discipline of motherhood was what was calling to me that morning, teaching me more than an hour of Bible reading could.

I did end up finding time later that day to myself. It wasn’t first thing in the morning and it wasn’t “perfect.” I sat for a few minutes reading the Bible and then laughed when my son ran in, fumbled his way through downward dog with me and then ran back out to play. But it wasn’t in those “spiritual” moments that I felt God’s pleasure. It was in that early morning, present with my son, that I felt the most hope in my parched soul—it was in the letting go and in welcoming the light.

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Nicole T Walters
I love to experience and to write about this messy, noisy, beautiful world and cultures not my own. Though my family’s roots run deep in the soil of the Southern United States I, along with my husband and our two little ones, am learning to love hot milk tea instead of sweet iced tea as we make our home in South Asia. I hope to help others create space to hear God’s voice in all the noise of life as I write about faith from a global perspective at A Voice in the Noise {nicoleTwalters.com}. I have authored essays in several books and my writing has appeared in places live CT Women, Relevant, and Ruminate. I am a regular contributor at here at SheLove, The Mudroom, and READY Publication and am a member of the Redbud Writers Guild.
Nicole T Walters
Nicole T Walters

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Nicole T Walters

Comments

  1. Fritha Washington says:

    Love the mummy heart in this, and how you’ve given parenting such dignity. Thank you. xx

  2. So tender. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your heart and inviting us into your Light.

  3. Thank you for this, Nicole! I so often have a hard time recalibrating after my “perfect” mornings are upended. But then, I don’t remember the last time I actually had a perfect morning… I’m learning to find God in these holy moments of mothering and everydayness that don’t count in my head but do in my practice.

    • practice – this was my word 2 years ago and I feel like I am FINALLY just starting to get it, that practice is showing up every day no matter how small and not giving up when we feel like a failure. Just like my yoga practice is rebuilding after weeks away from the mat and my muscles are sore but I am rebuilding…praying for God to continue building my spiritual muscles as I show up. Blessings, sister!

  4. Oh, so much of this resonates with me. This: “The spiritual discipline of motherhood was what was calling to me that morning, teaching me more than an hour of Bible reading could.” <3

  5. Stacey Pardoe says:

    This is beautiful, Nicole. I’m in a similar season, with little ones begging for my attention often and an alarm clock that sounds too early. I’m learning that just as the Lord loves uninterrupted moments of communion with me, he also ordained the little interruptions and is using them to make me more like him. May we walk in the Spirit as we maintain the delicate balance of motherhood.

  6. How is it that we picture God, looking at His watch, tapping His holy foot with impatience over us when we’re the ones driving the crazy train of perfectionism? What a gift that you seized that Lego moment with your son!
    Blessings to you!

    • Ha, it would be such a funny picture of God if it wasn’t how I unconsciously see him so many times. Begging God to show me how to seize more of these moments. People can say “those days will be gone before you know it” a million times but it couldn’t be more true.

  7. Tammy Chase Whitney says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I think that this false idea of what perfect devotion to Christ looks like, is what drives people away from relationship….because if we try to maintain that ideal we will NEVER get there! It’s all about relationship and intimate relationship isn’t marked by formality. Grace and peace to you.

    • “Intimate relationship isn’t marked by formality” – keeping this with me for my heart to cling to. Thank you!

      • Lori Sheffield says:

        I Love this too!!! Our perfectionist tendencies do not make room for God’s grace. He’s always doing something new in our hearts, minds and lives reminding us that we can’t put Him in a box. His ways are above ours. You hit the nail on the head…He wants our love and it’s not about following rules…..it’s about seeking Him and being His hands and feet in this world.

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