When All You See Is Everything You Didn't Do

We took a family vacation last month. Disneyland and ocean and all three kids.

We went, we did, and it was quality family time (except for maybe when the rain poured down and Sam screamed his blonde-fuzzed head off from under his poncho-covered stroller and I could not get out of the park fast enough. But even that we chalked up to memories).

After all we did in the name of childhood and family bonding, I wanted to do something just for my husband. I noticed a highly-rated microbrewery on our return route that advertised smoked meats and a family picnic space.

Craft beer and pulled pork sandwiches basically sum up Mike’s passions in life.

But here’s the thing:

As we were getting closer to the brewery, I could feel it right up in my throat. Whatever internal meter I have that indicates when I have spent too much energy, been too touched, used too many words, that meter was reading in the red danger zone. I know this because my default warning is tears and yelling.

If you have any measure of introverted qualities, you might identify with the desperation I felt. (I mean, six days straight, guys. They are the people I love most in this life. But six.days.straight.)

I had this internal dialogue going in my head as we drove. It was something I wanted to do. It seemed like something I should have been able to do--it's just one hour, Amanda. I kept telling myself things that started with “Why can’t you just…”

Let me tell you, nothing good comes from a sentence that starts with “Why can’t you just…”

I’m learning to assert myself and be honest about my needs (with myself too) sometime before I am crying and yelling and wishing I had just listened to my body and said no. Finally, I told Mike, “I wish I could do this. I really want to do this for you. But I have nothing left. I won’t be able to handle watching the kids while you enjoy a beer. I just know it’s going to end in tears and yelling.” {Maybe I started crying just in the confessing.}

God bless my husband, he said something freeing: “You know, it might have been nice. But it’s just really not worth that much to me. I’d rather have you pleasant than get a beer and have you feeling crazy.”

While my husband might have a knack for putting things rather bluntly, there was no mistaking the tenderness in his voice. He loves me. I have a feeling most husbands feel this way: they would rather come home to a happy loving wife than a clean home and a hot dinner and a wife who is losing her ever loving mind because she’s poured herself out all day long and never took the opportunity to allow the Lord to pour back into her.

Ask your husband, I think he might agree: the best you is better than the perfect everything you are chasing.

So, we grabbed Chipotle instead, and that beautiful man took all three kids into the restaurant, ordered the food, and brought me mine. While he sat in the sunshine with the kids, I sat in the glorious quiet of an empty car.

Instead of being hard on myself, I chose to receive that half hour like a gift. My husband had made room for me to be exactly as I am, how I am. I needed to make room for me too.


I was reading in the Psalms this morning and came across this: “You have relieved me in my distress” (Psalm 4:1b, NASB). “Relieved” was translated from the Hebrew word “rachab.” It means “enlarged, made room for.” I imagine the glory of unbuttoning the top pants’ button after a filling meal. God makes room for us in our distress. He doesn’t find us inconvenient or force us into some sort of generic shape of should be or should do or why can’t you just—this imaginary perfect wife and mom we are constantly striving to be. He makes room for us—as we are.

Think about this: Real love makes room.

Real love is the stretching carved out space of a woman’s body making room for new life. Real love is the gentle words on a mother’s lips: I love you just the way you are. Real love is the two people hiding out behind a locked door for just a few moments to be all about each other, to remember the love that brought forth the rambunctious kids on the other side of the door.

We are the mothers, the lovers, the nesters who pluck from our own selves the feathers that make the home for each life, each unique shape of a person, entrusted to our care.

We push aside, we clear off, we make room.

Dear heart, when you slump down tired and all you see is everything you didn’t do and you lament the place your energy gave out, knock that off. You are chasing perfection instead of God’s grace. You are striving; really, you are at odds with God, because the one thing you haven’t made room for is His Grace.

God doesn’t look at your short-comings, your temporary (or long-term) struggles, and wish he had picked out someone else to mother and wife and build your home—the callings of God are without repentance (Rom 11:29). He sees you and cares for you and rejoices over you with singing (Zeph 3:17). And the place where you run out? Oh, He never runs out. He is your strength and your refuge.

Jesus came down and stretched his body wide open upon the cross. He made room for you.

And maybe if we began to see that these gaps and cracks—our shortcomings and struggles—are the places where we are making room for God; maybe then we would see God's abundant grace shining through our lives and homes.

Yes, Jesus, come dwell here.

Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30, ESV

How do you know when you desperately need rest? How are you at communicating your need for rest?


By Grace,

Amanda Conquers


P.S. This little community has more than doubled since last I wrote. (!!!) I want to tell you how welcome you are here. This space is for us—us not-enough ones, always-running-behind ones, feeling-a-little-weak ones--learning how we too shall be called more than conquerors through Christ.

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