I took this photo nearly four years ago. I love it. Not because of the composition or the lighting or even the fact it was taken in Africa. I love it because somehow I feel it. I have no idea what this young mother was thinking as she rested her head on her hand in the heat of that African day, but I can imagine. Can you? We don’t have to live in a house like hers or a place like Kenya to KNOW the things that make a mother hold her head that way. I can imagine she was worried. More than that, though, I imagine she was weary. Perhaps that small child had cried all night and was finally resting. Perhaps she was taking the only quiet moment she could to rest or think or just be by herself as best she could. I, also, love this photo because it could easily be of me.
You see, sometimes I just want to rest or read or write or drink a whole cup of coffee without being interrupted. I’d like to be able to go to the bathroom by myself on a more regular basis. I’d like to be able finish a project, a prayer, a blog post, a Bible study or maybe a complete thought from time to time. But needs are all around me, and they usually don’t wait. Some are simple. Juice cups, sharpened pencils, lunch boxes and book bags. Others are more difficult. Late night fevers, broken hearts, fear, pain. Big or small, one thing is consistent about the needs around me: they are consistent. And, in all honesty, sometimes they wear me out.
There, I said it. And while I’m confessing….when I am tired, or worried, or just plain weary, I don’t always handle the needs very well. I get impatient. I think selfish thoughts. I say harsh words. I do not act like Christ.
And, often I forget that while my attitude might not look a lot like Christ’s, my life sometimes does. Who knows better than He what it is to be surrounded by people who need your help, want your attention, and will not leave you alone until they get it? Just look at Mark 5:21-43, and you’ll get a good idea of just how well He knows it. I think my favorite part is the beginning of verse 35, which says: “While Jesus was still speaking….” He didn’t finish dealing with one need before another came along. And, He handled them all…with much more grace and compassion than I usually muster.
I’ll be honest and tell you that usually this realization would send me into the depths of discouragement (I give myself great guilt trips). This morning, however, it gave me hope. Why? Because “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (1 Peter 1: 3) If He was able to handle the pressure of constant crowds following him everywhere and seeking him out when he sought solitude, his spirit can enable and empower me to do the same.