June 06, 2013

Too Much Manna

I realized something this morning as I was lying in bed, trying to wake my brain up so it could keep pace with my kids, who were up at 7.

I get tired of manna.

In Exodus, the Israelites finally leave Egypt with a bang (Ten Commandments and all that, though I don't think Moses had a voice like Charlton Heston). They get out in the desert--and start worrying about how they'll be fed. Food for thousands of people isn't easily come by on the Sinai peninsula. God's response was to send manna. The Hebrew is manhu, which means "What is it?" That's a word picture that makes me smile, just thinking of someone exiting their tent in the morning, seeing a nearby bush or the ground, a puzzled expression, and: "Manhu?" God provided food out of nowhere, and he did it for forty years. Initial gratitude turned to discontent and complaining, and manna wasn't enough anymore.

Things I have longed for and delighted in become monotonous.

The never-ending nature of so much of being at home full time can be draining. Though you finish all laundry (perhaps even get it all folded and put away), there will be more laundry to do by bedtime--and something "done" turns back into a "to do". It can be hard to motivate yourself to give your best when your investment has little to no bearing on how it's received, such as spending hours in the kitchen to make a new meal--and most family members turn up their noses, leave food on their plates, and leave to go play. I have news for you: telling myself that God loves a cheerful spirit doesn't make me feel better about clearing everything off the table, wrapping up leftovers, and cleaning the kitchen from the meal preparation. A few friends have had kid-free days this week because of summer camp or grandparent visits, and they've remarked on how CLEAN the house remains without kids in the mix.

Too often I look at my daily struggles, the bread of my existence, and tell God I want something different.

I'm tired of manna.

I won't go into the exchange God and the Israelites had about meat, which got heated, but I do want to think about abiding in this situation. Abiding, remaining, being present.

In so many other areas of life, staying in something until it gets boring is actually where the meat begins. Anyone can be pleasant in a relationship for a day or two here or there; the meat of knowing another person is enough time and enough overlap for their foibles to run into yours. Parenting a baby or small child is usually easy for an hour here or there. That's not where I learn the most about myself and my kids. I learn the most during mile 12 of 26: waking at 3 a.m. to hear sounds of throwing up and knowing you're the one on-call; grasping at relaxation techniques as we enter hour 2 of the stand-off at the dinner table, knowing I can't cave and I can't kill my child, either!

The biggest return on investment in life comes when the investment starts to go south, because that's when MY character is revealed. Do I pick something shiny and new and exciting, abandoning a path that's gotten hard? Or do I choose to stay present, sincerely believing that the view from the summit will only get better as the incline gets steeper?

I've thought this morning that I'm tired of manna, but maybe that manna is actually the meat I've wanted all along.

1 comment:

Kari said...

This is good stuff.