Life Is Not an Emergency

Over at A Holy Experience I read this today: “Life is not an emergency, it is a gift — so just. slow. down.”

Beautiful statement, yes?

Being a Type A, organized, fastidious, and driven person has served me very well in life.  Not just work and school; these skills have also helped me cope when life has been very painful and unpredictable.  Loss and heartache have been much more manageable when I can master the details on a task in life, focus on a goal, and attain it.  So, I made every attempt I could to vaccinate my life against the kind of pain I was familiar with. I kept the details in order, the commas in their correct place, set up elaborate filing systems, stacked my resume brilliantly, etc.

However.  It’s not that easy.

God has used the experience of motherhood to show me there will always be pain. Always.  You cannot plan for everything.  I spent hundreds of dollars on the best prenatal vitamins.  Even with the best of planning, I could not make sense of the fact that a baby can arrive at 30 weeks when everything appears to be physically perfect and on course.

There will always be chaos and disorder in life.  Just when the winter boxedler bugs seemed to have disappeared in our house, rebellious ants start to march around the sink.

After my son’s birth, as we traveled to and from the hospital, spending 12-15 hours by his side at a time. I started to realize a day could really only contain a fraction of what it did before.  It was a painful adjustment for me.

People would say, “You can’t do everything.  You’re just going to have to learn that.”  Here’s the catch with that.  People can be very transparent creatures.  It was rather obvious to me when the people who were very vocal in “teaching” me this lesson were the ones I could also watch try so desperately to do everything, to keep control, to present with the selves they specifically wanted me to see.  I could feel their satisfaction in watching me struggle.  It wasn’t malicious, it had nothing to truly do with me.  It was their own internal battle.  They hadn’t let go of their dream to control everything, conquer anxiety, and eliminate pain and hardship.

So I had to start adjusting.  Things started to change.  I had no choice.  I couldn’t do it all.  And if I kept doing it all, I was going to keep sobbing in my kitchen at 2:00 a.m. while wearing mis-matched pajamas and avoiding eye contact with the mountain of stuff on the dining room table.

I was headed for a breakdown.

I’m letting go a bit more every day.  I’m getting the hang of this authenticity stuff.  It’s an imperfect art.  I learn a little more every day.

And I love it.

Who can be authentic in a perfectly sanitized life?  You don’t know any better.  I love the peace God has given me through this hardship.  I love that I have grace and forgiveness when it doesn’t go so well.  I love that when someone comes over to visit, I opt not to waste precious time apologizing for ten minutes how unorganized things are.

The best part of motherhood is that life has moved faster than it ever has, but in the same breath God is teaching me to slow down.  How both are possible are beyond me, but I’m doing it.

For a long time I prayed
and I asked God to help me.
Help me be brave
and He took away my sleep.
Help me have wisdom
and He watched me wear two different socks.
Help me find peace
and He was silent while I washed bottles
over and over and over. And over.
Help me achieve success
and He knew I wouldn’t even shower that day.
Help me stay on top of everything
and He just might have laughed
when everyone I knew
called to leave a message
on the exact. same. day.

And then
out of patience and out of time
out of anything worth eating in the cupboard
with unwashed hair and spit-up on my jeans
chronically late for most everything
holding a baby only wearing a diaper
his expensive new outfits stained with poo
crumpled in the corner
next to a pile of shoes
and a pile of mail
both still smaller than my piles of guilt
I prayed again

Hey, can you hear me?
I’m kind of falling apart
There’s not much left to give
At this point could you just help me be the person you want me to be
and I’ll make the best of that.

And God said

Oh, there you are
I’ve been waiting for you to be able to hear me
Because I’ve had something I’ve been wanting to say
For a really, really long time
But you’ve been too busy trying to change it.
Are you listening?

You’re absolutely beautiful this way.
I’m madly in love with you.
You were my dream a long time ago
please stop kicking and screaming
and simply let go.
Let me show you what I dreamt.
Let me show you who I love.
Let me show you


  1. Emily, Why do you add so much drama to life?
    Stay cool and do each day at a time. You put drama into everything. Keep it simple, That will be much less stressful and you will be happy. Love, Gram

  2. Love this! Motherhood teaches you more than you can think, I tried to be super women once and I gave in as well. I have 2 things I tell myself and the boys. God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt, and I don’t ever say sorry for a messy house, I embrace the fact that it is lived in, because one day everything will be always be right where I left it and as clean as I left it.

    Sit back, have a glass of wine and ooogle and ooogle over Ziggy! Your a hero in my book

  3. Emily I have been following your blog and I find you simply amazing. Reading your posts brings peace when things are chaotic. You tell things as they are but in an enlightening way so that one doesnt feel guilty for once feeling the same way!

    • Well hi, Melissa. Nice to meet you, and I have a feeling if you find me amazing, you’re working on the same stuff and just as amazing. Keep up the good work — I’m thinking you’re one of the ones making the world a better place today.

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