I was so overwhelmed last week. And then God met me. But if I hadn’t been paying attention, I don’t think I would have noticed.
I took a day off work because I had four doctor’s appointments in one day. The week had been a busy one. My personal children had a lot on their plate. The academic quarter was ending, so they were overwhelmed with homework. We had many sports commitments on the calendar and places to be. My teaching life was filled with papers to grade, students I was concerned about, and meetings to be had. I felt stretched. Too far.
Guilt of a Working Mom
Many times, I wondered and questioned why I chose to be a working mom of four kids. I was second guessing the decision I made ten years ago, thinking about what a better, more present mom I could be if I wasn’t working. My house would be clean, home cooked meals would be prepared, and I would be more patient. I felt as if I could crumble.
I got in the car with my coffee in hand. The sun was shining, and the weather was perfect. 70 degrees and sunny with the fall colors bursting forth from the trees. I opened the sun roof, rolled down the windows, and turned the radio off to drive in silence. In the quiet, I felt a calm come over me.
During the drive, I decided not to engage with social media while sitting in waiting rooms that day because I knew I would just scroll and waste the time I’d been given. So rather than looking at my phone, I sat and did nothing.
The Gift of Being Present
I looked around the waiting room. I noticed a young mom with her baby. I watched as she and her mother-in-law cooed and talked sweetly to the baby boy. I thought about how just yesterday it seemed like I was doing the same thing with my babies. The woman next to me smiled at me, and we chatted about our upcoming appointments.
The nurse came out and called my name. As I entered the room to have my blood drawn, I was greeted by a big smile and kind personality.
The woman I met was so warm. She told me that when she was little, her grandma told her that no matter what happens and no matter how hard things get, you should always smile because there is always someone who has it harder than you do. Then she told me she prays every day that God will help her smile. I immediately felt like we were friends.
During my 10-minute appointment, we went so deep. We had real fellowship. I even welled up with tears. And she was a stranger. I knew that God was meeting me in this moment. I just knew. He was reminding me that being present to the people in my life and smiling at them goes a long way. Greeting my students and coworkers with a smile and kind word—even if things are hard—blesses them. I know this because I was that receiver that day. I felt filled up and I wasn’t expecting it. All it took was her smile.
I continued my quest to be present at my next doctor’s appointment. As I waited in the waiting room, I looked around. I noticed a man about my age with what seemed to be his father. They quietly chatted about the busyness of the hospital and what they had done that morning. I thought about my own dad and how I needed to give him a call to see how he was doing.
The doctor I was seeing was a new one to me. I expected it to be a quick appointment because I knew he had a full schedule that day. I was pleasantly surprised when he walked in so calmly. He proceeded to ask me question after question. I knew he was listening because he was looking right at me, asking follow up questions based on what I said. After the medical stuff, we chatted about life and got a bit off topic.
God Met Me at the Doctor’s Office
He asked what I do for a living, and I told him that I was a teacher of 4th graders. After I said this, he paused, looked right into my eyes and said, “You do such important work every day. You have chosen a career that is making an impact on people’s lives and is so important. Thank you.”
When he said this my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t know that I needed to hear it, but I guess I did. I had been questioning my impact at school. It had been tiring and hard and caused me to forget why I do what I do. God knew I needed to hear these words, and so through a complete stranger, He spoke them to me.
I was weary. I felt wrung out. I considered doctor’s appointments just another thing on my to-do list. But in the midst of them, when I chose to pursue being present and quiet, God met me. Twice. He used strangers to specifically encourage me to keep walking and doing what He has called me to do.
I think the coolest part is that I recognized that it was Him. I know that it was Him. On my drive home I turned up my worship music and sang. Hard. I was filled with thankfulness.
I can only imagine how many times I have moved too quickly and been too distracted to notice what God is doing around me. He is living and active. He is busy weaving all our lives together to further His kingdom. Someday we will get to see the ways that He knit them together. For now, we get a glimpse if we are willing to stop and pay attention.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin, it’s time to reprioritize your life. To learn how, check out this podcast episode of This Grit and Grace Life: How To Take Back Your Time With Christy Wright – 166