My hands were in the dishwater when I began sobbing – the ugly face kind. I was a mess. My attitude stunk, and I was not a happy mama. I was probably more lonely than anything, and I reeeeally needed a casserole, or maybe just a hug, but no one was there to give me either. So I prayed….
Fourteen years ago, we were into 5 of 6 years of managing apartments. The adventures could fill a book, and for the last 3 years of this job, we had 60 units in two buildings. It helped pay the bills in our young married life, subsidized Mark’s schooling and they gave us a nice reduction on our rent, so we stuck with it as long as we could. It was a blessing financially, but it was also a time where all my true colours came out – and they weren’t lovely primary colours either. They were like when your kid mixes all the paint together and makes gross, brown-y-grey. That’s about what colour my heart was.
I had a 2-year-old little girl, a 1-year-old baby boy and had recently miscarried the year it felt like the world was crashing down on me. There were many factors that brought me this point. I’m pretty sure this was around the same time as when I cleaned up someone’s drunken vomit in the hallway before church, was up all night with angry tenants over leaky pipes (in between refilling bottles for the teether), and to top it off, a homeless individual had recently slept in the stairwell and defacated in the corner. Oh, fabulous.
We also had weekly inspections from the boss who thought that how well my home was kept was an indication of how well I would keep his building. It was huge pressure and my kids were in the colouring-the-carpet-with-lipstick stage (another story for another day). It was just a hard time.
My husband was in school, running a business, working at an office part time, and DJing on the weekends, sometimes not home until 3 or 4am when working at out of town events. Instead of being thankful for his job and all he was doing, I was frustrated that I didn’t have more help. He was also in the Young Men’s presidency and was gone every Tuesday night as well as night classes at the University twice a week. Instead of being thankful that he was an active member of the Church and that he was working hard to attend school, I was resentful. There were literally 4 phone lines running into our house, between the apartments, our home phone, his business line and his cell phone. We hardly saw each other, and when I did see him, it was the back of his head because he was studying. I can’t say these were our happiest years. And I was mostly to blame. My attitude was terrible.
I found the two bedroom apartment we lived in was cramped, stuffy and hot in the summer. There were only 3 windows in our apartment and they all faced north, so even when the west wind blew, there was barely a draft. It was a lovely little apartment, except in my emotional state, I could not bring myself to be thankful for anything, especially for the one kitchen sink – or the 3 windows. All I could think of was “why are we still doing this!?” I longed for a larger home – with a double sink (and a dishwasher!) – and a yard for the kids to play in. I wished I didn’t have to vacuum hallways or clean laundry rooms or pick up garbage. The messes of toddlers were more than enough. I had not learned to bloom where I was planted…because my attitude was still just a barely germinating seed in the ground.
One day my little ones – while my husband nodded off on the couch and I was in the other room on a long distance call – unloaded the fridge. They were both in diapers and in little white undershirts. They lined up the salad dressings to make “ooo-ooo-ains” and then proceeded to break 2 dozen eggs and swim in them. We were on a main level apartment and the floor was uneven, so the egg goop ran under the fridge and because the fridge was very warm underneath, it cooked the egg to the floor. Then the children went into the bedroom, their shirts covered in shells, yolk and white, and jumped on the bed – which was covered with about four loads of clean laundry. Before that time, I had never used a spatula to scrape cooked egg yolk off a floor before. I’ve learned since that spatulas come in really handy for scraping food off things and that when you feed toddlers rice or peas, it’s easier to just go to bed, let the morsels dry overnight and then sweep them up the next morning (** Just a tip for all you new moms out there…)
These were the types of events that preceded a complete meltdown at my kitchen sink one day. The kids were napping (oh blessed day!) and Mark was at school. It was a hot 34 degree (celsius) July day and I was doing dishes by hand in the one little sink we had. I was literally dripping with sweat. My hands were in the dishwater when I began sobbing – the ugly face kind. I was a mess. My attitude stunk, and I was not a happy mama. I was probably more lonely than anything, and I reeeeally needed a casserole, or maybe just a hug, but no one was there to give me either. So I prayed. I asked Heavenly Father if I could feel, just for a moment, His love for me.
Then immediately, the most amazing, wonderful thing happened. I felt a tingle from the top of my head trickle down my body and into my toes. I had just received a hug from heaven, and it was real and tangible – as if it had just whisked in like a much needed draft from those open, but non drafty windows.
I realized at that very minute that the Lord has always been keenly aware of my needs. I learned that He knows my heart, even if I feel judged or inadequate. I also learned that He can be the One I turn to when circumstances feel overwhelming. Sometimes he allows difficult things to continue for our growth and doesn’t answer every prayer immediately, but I learned that He will always, ALWAYS send His love when we ask to feel it. That is a prayer I found He he will always answer immediately. That day it was like someone had taken the children’s paints, all a-mess in my heart, and ran them under the tap washing off the mixture of colours, exposing a brighter, lighter, happier of version of myself, brought back into focus by His perfect love.
From the album “Thy Healing Hands – Songs of Comfort and Peace“.