I donated my debit card to Goodwill the other day.
I was cleaning out my closet, going through clothes that were leftover from pre, post, and wide-load middle pregnancy. None of them fit. Everything seemed a little stretched out, a little worn thin, or smaller than I remembered. I felt left out of my own closet.
The baby was sleeping and I decided that it was time to see what was leftover if I forced my way back into my closet. I started with the easy pickings: pregnancy clothes and cardigans that I owned in multiples of the same color. Turns out I have a weakness for reds and blues. Then I started going through pre-pregnancy clothes: jeans from high school and shirts I got from Forever 21 when I was much more ambitious with outfits that coordinated in more than one place. I kept digging and adding to the pile, cleansing my closet of clothes that made my body feel awkward.
Then I looked down at the jeans I was wearing, the ones I had run errands in just an hour before. And I decided those, too, had to go. I can’t remember, exactly, the fault I found with those jeans. I think I looked at the inside panel and realized they were called “dangerous low rise” and I felt it was completely inappropriate for a mother my age to wear jeans that were dangerous or low rise. Into the pile they went, along with the debit card, receipts, and chapstick buried in the back pocket.
Naturally, I went about the rest of my closet organization pantless and I made Molly do the same, because when we make decisions around here we follow through as a family. We both kept our socks on, because, well, we aren’t barbarians.
I realized that Mike would talk me out of donating the majority of my closet (and the remaining balance in our checking account) to Goodwill if I waited until he got home to drop off the bags. So Molly and I discussed our next move, put on some pants, and went to Goodwill. As a family, we are highly efficient.
Later that evening, I was thrilled to learn my bank offers a 24 hour card cancelling service. I took advantage of it and our checking account made it through unscathed.
Since having a baby I’ve been on a mission to find out what is leftover: what parts of my closet and my brain and my ambition are left after being stretched and altered as human now responsible for another human.
Here in Mollywood, I’m so curious about leftovers.
I look in the mirror and evaluate a body that is leftover from pregnancy. I talk to my boss and renegotiate the hours and responsibilities of a job leftover after prioritizing a family that is worth more. I stare at a blank computer screen and dig deep for the leftovers of a creative brain that has been sleep deprived and neglected for several weeks. (Sorry, bloggy blog).
This baby girl is joy multiplied by ten thousand. She is easy in far more ways than she is hard. She has captured my entire heart and I hope I live to be 130 so I can witness every moment of her magnificent life. But sometimes I ask Jesus about my pre-baby life. I liked that one too and I wonder what is left of it.
Together we discuss the messy collision of big joy and deep sacrifice, the moment of transition when God delivers you from something really good into something truly great. It is an exchange that hurts by surprise. For a few moments and after a couple of short nights, you feel homesick for the good, because the good was familiar and at least you knew what you were doing back then.
Maybe it’s okay to be a little homesick for a minute, to miss the good things even while you are happy to give them up; happy to donate quickly while holding the world’s most beautiful baby.
It seems impossible, but in the midst of this extravagant joy I still sometimes miss the runs I could take by myself, the nights I could sleep until a morning alarm, and the schedule that I could anticipate; the one I could decide all by myself. I miss independence.
God spends our entire lives reminding us of His sufficiency while we strive for independence. We all just want to be good at something, deeply individually capable at one or two visible, valuable endeavors. We all hate change because it disrupts our ability to perform well, to prove how visible and valuable we actually are. And if we cannot perform, then what is leftover?
Yet the true gospel of grace is not that we are enough, but that He is.
Maybe we can only find deep, saturating grace at the donation bin of our independence. Parenthood is exactly this, a big old invitation for grace we do not have.
I understand that the big love and big joy of great things often cost us a few good things like the luxury of independence, some old clothes, and the occasional debit card.
I feel insufficient because I am. Self-sufficiency is like a pair of jeans: a good fit is close to impossible and always short lived. For a moment I might feel settled, hemmed in, well-fitted, but by then it’s probably time to get pregnant with a new promise, a new dream. It’s time for something greater, a bigger love, a bigger joy, something that will cost you your jeans.
I’ll see you at the donation bin.
Don’t forget to check your pockets.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinithians 12:9