Look back, remember, abide

Two years ago, after nearly a full year of juggling the idea in my mind and praying that if it was to be part of our story God would make a way, I quit my part-time church staff writer/editor job. The reasons my husband and I discussed were many, and they were complicated. But more than anything else, I missed my kids—one finishing up first grade and one having just turned a year old. Logic told us that I needed to keep working. (Our bank account agreed.) But there was no avoiding God’s persistent nudging on the subject: I needed to give up my job, which I had slowly allowed to invade my off-hours, stealing my joy and my ability to be emotionally and mentally present. And we needed to trust Him to meet our needs. Two years later, despite the curveballs that more than once or twice tempted us to doubt, I can say with gratitude that He has met our family’s every need, and then some.

When I look back over my writing from these couple of years—both what I’ve shared with the world and what I’ve saved for myself, sacred—and remember, all I can do is give honor and glory to God for His faithfulness. I read my own words and shake my head, realizing He loved me too much to let me remain unchanged as my life shifted from one season into the next.

I recently came across a draft I’d written one year after leaving my job. I felt like a mess and a failure at the time and was struggling with whether quitting had been the best decision after all. Today I feel like like someone else out there might need the words. For me they are evidence, a reminder of God’s goodness and the fact that even in times of transition and even with all of my shortcomings, He has never abandoned me. He won’t abandon you, either. Be encouraged.

From June 2016

There are stickers—Sofia the First, if you’re interested—on the backs of my dining chairs.

My shirt is still warm and wet from the coffee spilled on it this morning when I was bumped into by a big kid who likes to hug by sneak attack. I opted to keep wearing it because the thought of one more shirt in the laundry pile was too much.

My 8-year-old is still in her nightgown. We just ate lunch.

“Lunch” was a bag of mini muffins, because I never made it to the grocery store this week.

The hundreds of puzzle pieces are all mixed up, because my 2-year-old thinks dumping anything and everything onto the floor is hilarious.

Purple crayon, scribbled on so many things.

My kitchen floor looks like a tiny set from a disaster movie. Playmobil pieces. Everywhere.

There’s more to add to this list, but you already know that. I’m guessing you’ve been there, even if your version of chaos doesn’t involve crayon on the furniture or toys all over the floor. 

On days like today, it’s not hard to feel like I’m losing it. I quit my job because I had dreams of keeping a tidier house, cooking healthful dinners, creating consistent routines for my girls, having laundry tucked neatly in closets and drawers. It shouldn’t be this hard, should it? Why can’t I get it together?

On days like today, I think of those plans—expectations I put on myself, mind you—and my chest tightens because I have let myself down. I have let my family down. I am a disappointment. On days like today, the burden feels like too much, and I start to come untethered because nothing is ever the way I think it will be.

But then those crushing thoughts—and the enemy’s downright lies—are interrupted by a little person tugging on my pajama pants. (Yes, still in my pajamas, did you expect anything different?) I squat down to her level and fix my brown eyes on her matching pair. She is sticky, dragging a blankie around and asking where her paci is (she knows I hid it) and can I “hold ya, Mommy?”

And in that moment, I choose to let the mess and the expectations and the disappointment go. My planner says, You’ve failed! but my kids’ faces say otherwise. 

Jesus tells me otherwise, too.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:9-11).

Abide in Me. Follow Me, walk as I walk, find rest in Me alone, and you will know real, overflowing joy—regardless of your messy home, your missed deadline, your perceived failure.

Can it really be that simple? The answer is yes.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Learn from Me, and find rest for your soul—an easy-to-carry bundle instead of the luggage you’ve been dragging around.

Two minutes spent savoring God’s promises, and my heart already feels lighter.


So today, I choose to abide. I choose to focus on what matters in this moment, right now, with ripples from here to eternity—whether it’s playing with those happy, messy, kids, stepping out into the front yard to chat with my neighbor, or taking another five minutes to soak up Truth for the sake of my own heart.

Even if the puzzle pieces never get sorted. Even if the purple crayon doesn’t wash out.

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2 thoughts on “Look back, remember, abide

  1. annemariesells says:

    So good Rebekah. I loved reading this and seeing the pictures of your mess, or memories rather, that you’re creating with your kids. And looking back onto a season and seeing where you’ve come from and why God told you to do what you did is always so comforting too. Way to step out in faith…and look at what God has done.

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