I’ve heard it probably as much as you have: Savor every moment! They tell us this while we’ve got one kid on our hip, one pulling on our leg, and one rummaging through goodies in the checkout aisle. It’s like they can’t see us. I used to take this advice to heart on the one hand, but dismiss it entirely on the other. Wait, savor every moment? You want me to savor every moment? It feels artificial to say the unsavory is actually savory. And there’s no use pretending you are savoring something when really it makes you sick. I tried, but I can’t savor the sound of this tantrum. I can’t savor the fifteen dirty diapers I changed today. I can’t savor the sight of one child yanking the hair on another child. I can’t pretend the trenches are mountain tops, and all the rough ways are smooth. I’ll savor the newborn snuggled on my chest. I’ll savor bedtime stories and goodnight kisses. I will savor all the laughter, all the hugs, and every please and thank you. I will savor successfully cooked dinners, a job well done, and every act of obedience. But I will elbow my way through the other stuff until I get to the savory on the other side.
Sometimes it took me a week to get to that other side. And in the meantime I was in a bad mood, complaining about the unsavory or trying just to fix it. But as it turns out, life is made up of a lot of “unsavory” material. And a lot of it isn’t supposed to be “fixed.” Monotony, and messes, and chores, and childishness—these things are woven through the fabric of my daily routine. Even when my hormones are rightly aligned and all my children are smiling, I’m still going to be dealing with some degree of monotony, messes, chores, and childishness. I shouldn’t treat these things as problems to be fixed, necessarily. But I don’t know how to treat them as candy to be savored either. So what do I do with them?
Do I put gratitude on hold while I wait for the picturesque moments to come? Do I push against whole chapters of life while I get mad at them for not being more savory than they are? Do I put a savory spin on every moment? Do I tell myself that all of life should taste like candy and if it doesn’t, there’s something wrong with me? Sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to be putting on a show. But as parents we’re tending a garden here, not putting on a show. We plant, we water, we watch God make things grow. Sometimes we mess up and weeds start taking over. Sometimes we forget to water and we see some withering. But what’s important is that we pick up the tools and go on gardening again. We keep on working, and get our hands dirty. We know there will be beautiful roses, but there will also be thorns. We know we’ll get to laugh a lot, but we’re going to cry some too. We know the children will be like cherubs when they sleep, but they will always wake up as children again. They will never be perfectly savory and neither will we.
So I have to reinterpret “savor every moment.” I think to savor the moment is to learn the secret of contentment in it. The savoring is the learning. And to savor the moment is to learn how to be with God in it—to hear His Word, to walk by faith. God is the secret of contentment. Sometimes we get swallowed up by the snapshots and forget the big picture. But the secret is not in the moment. The secret is not in our feelings toward the moment. The secret is in Him, where there is no shifting shadow. The secret is in him whether you have a newborn, a teenager, or a child all grown up. The secret is in Him, whether you’re buried under monotony or carried along by laughter. And even when you feel tired of your work, or resentful, depressed, and confused. It’s okay to feel different ways about different moments. Sometimes it’s okay to just BE in the moment, unaware of it altogether! God can use all kinds of moments to make us more like Him. And this life can still be the grand occasion—the time God uses to toss out all kinds of stuff in our souls and put new stuff in. And maybe this life is about becoming a certain kind of person and not just about feeling certain ways or doing certain things. And maybe we can savor it—all of it—because God already told us what He would do with it. He told us He will work all of it together for our good and for His glory.
The gospel is about putting us back into fellowship with Him. Let nothing come between you and God—nothing deep in your heart, nothing out in the open, and not any kind of moment. Knowing God is what the Christian life is all about. It’s what motherhood is ultimately all about. And it’s the only way to savor every moment without pretending every moment is savory.
“The only place you have to be human is where you are right now. The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at this moment.“- Eugene Peterson
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