“You’ve got this, Mama.”
I find myself saying this to total strangers who are struggling with their kids. I say it to fellow parents, grandparents, caregivers, whoever I sense needs encouragement in the moment whether it’s in the subway, the parish hall, and more often than not, in a ladies rooms where a mother is attempting to get toddlers to wash their hands. You remember that moment, right? Where, help you God, they just refuse to put their little hands in the water?!?
I see these parents doing the best they can, raising their kids, moving about in their hurried life. My family moved to New York in January, and often find ourselves in close proximity to other people who are also trying to live their lives and raise their kids as best they can. It surprised me by how much more time we spend with other people in New York. Walking and commuting, we are with people (strangers!) all the time, and I have been thrilled to learn how kind they can be. I also notice people in need of encouragement almost every day.
Last week, I saw a mama with an infant attached to her in a carrier, trying to get her young toddler to walk up the stairs to their destination. “You’ve got this, Mama,” I found myself saying. She smiled, looked me right in the eye, and said “Thank you so much, I REALLY needed that today.” Sometimes when I offer uninvited encouragement, I get a smile, other times a thank you, sometimes just a weird look (Understandably, right? A stranger has just pointed out their struggle. I’m honestly surprised I don’t get more weird looks). Occasionally, they’ll even let me lend a hand.
How often do you find yourself struggling through the simplest task, just trying to get the child in your life to wash their hands, walk up the stairs, or listen to you for just a moment?
I find myself in those shoes all too often. I find myself needing a bit of encouragement. As a priest, you might imagine that I would immediately think of God, and prayer, and find my encouragement there. But I don’t.
I’m riding public transportation with two kids under five. I’m just trying to keep up with them, our stuff, and get off at the right stop. So I look around and I see the knowing glances of strangers. In my better moments, I see the wind blowing through trees and remember God’s care for all of creation, including me. Or I remember that these sweet kids will only be young for so long, and to treasure those little hands as long as a I can.
In my best moments, I remember this passage from Romans:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
Nothing is more encouraging than the promise of God’s inseparable love.
Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God. Not one thing. Not things present, nor things to come. Not death. Not life. Not tears over who got to sit by the window. Not tantrums over washing hands. Not slow-walking up steps, causing us to miss the train.
Nothing. Not one thing will separate us from the love of God. Good Lord, some days I really need that reminder.
Perhaps you do, too? Here’s where my smile comes in, and my phrase: “You’ve got this”.
What can you do to remind yourself of your connection to God?
- Go outside for a moment and see the beauty of creation
- Listen to a friend
- Offer a helping hand
- Savor a bite of food, remembering God’s connection to the creation of it.
- Rest– give yourself 5 minutes to breathe. You don’t have 5? What about 3?
- Smile at a stranger
- Connect with your child
- Say Thank you to God
Perhaps you could talk to your child about this, reminding them about their connection to God, too. Not during the meltdown, of course, but perhaps when they are ready to chat. What practice could they join you in to connect both of you to God?
So, Mama, Daddy, Grandparent, Christian Educator, Priest, whoever you are reading this post, nothing will separate you from the love of God. We need this reminder–as encouragement to keep washing hands and walking up stairs. You are loved. You are cared for. Nothing will separate you from the love of God. You’ve got this, Mama.