A night with all of my friends from MOPS seemed like just what I needed. Weary from a long week of being Mommy, I headed out the door for a leadership retreat. Oh, the relief! I wouldn’t have to do bedtime. I wouldn’t have to fix breakfast in the morning. I wouldn’t have to do anything for anyone – at least not for anyone under 4 foot tall.
I was so ready for a break. I was ready to eat, ready to fellowship, ready to dig into the Word with my friends. What I didn’t realize was that the “break” the Lord intended for me was way more than just hanging out with friends.
He intended to break my heart.
The first half of the retreat was nothing too eventful. Just lots of food and lots of laughter. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that the Lord began to reveal why I really needed to be at the retreat.
I smiled and happily prepared to take notes as our leader began to share her heart with us. She talked to us about our priorities when it comes to ministry, a reminder that MOPS can never be greater in our hearts than our families. I started to squirm. Okay, actually I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. My family was not only supposed to be my main ministry, but my heart was supposed to be more for that ministry, the ministry of home, than it was for any other.
Tears began to pool in my eyes. I knew.
My heart was not at home.
I thought of how I walked around my house feeling put upon and burdened. My fuse was constantly short, my words consistently sharp. I had been resentful of my role as a mother, as a housekeeper, as a responsible adult. Ministering to those outside of my home seemed so much easier, the return so much quicker. And I was allowing guilt for all of the things I felt like I did wrong as a mom to push me away from home.
The more our leader spoke, the more my heart broke. I pictured my precious girls and the damage I was doing by not being fully there for them. Finally, I had to get up. It was leave that room or have my emotions explode all over everyone. I hurried outside and completely broke down. Not just a few tears. No tiny trickle. I cried so hard that I could scarcely catch my breath, hiccuping in gulps of air.
I poured my heart out in repentance before the Lord, telling Him over and over how sorry I was. Asking Him to forgive me for taking the blessing of my family for granted. Asking Him to heal my precious daughters from any hurts my selfishness and foolishness had inflicted. I don’t know how long I sat out on the back porch. All I know is, by the time I went back in, I was spent. I went to the bathroom, cleaned up my face, and then slipped back into the meeting. Thoroughly wrung out, I was a vessel ready to be filled.
Not long after I returned, it came the time in the retreat when we were sent to find a spot where we could each be alone with the Lord. A time to truly listen for His voice. I slipped back outside with my Bible and sat on the ground. All I could say was, “Woe is me. I’m undone. O Lord, I am undone.” I opened my Bible up to Isaiah 6. I felt like Isaiah, a person of unclean lips standing before the most holy God.
As I continued to read in the Word about Isaiah, it was if the Lord was pouring sweet salve over the brokenness of my heart. I grabbed onto the words of Isaiah 6:7, “Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.” I felt God telling me that these words spoken to Isaiah when the hot coal was touched to his lips were for me, too. My sins had been purged. They were gone.
Then, in the Word, the Lord speaks saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (Isaiah 6:8) His questions for me echoed in my ears, “Whom shall I send to your children, Kimberly? Who will deal with them tenderly? Who will wipe away their tears and point them in the way they should go? Who will minister to your husband? Who will meet his needs? Who will care for your home? Who will serve with rejoicing and singing?”
My heart began to lighten with hope. I asked my own questions, “O Lord, really? Is it not too late? Have I not messed up too much?” But I already knew the answer. My sins were gone, purged. In His great mercy, He wanted to know if I would turn my heart back to my home.
From deep within me my cry rang out, “Here am I! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) I told the Lord that I was His. My hands, my feet, my heart – they were His. No more bitterness. No more discontentment. I wanted to go home. I could not wait to get home!
Please know God was not forbidding me that day to serve in ministries outside of my home. Nor was He telling me I couldn’t take breaks as a mommy. We all need a good break, times of sweet refreshing. What He was doing was dealing with some major heart issues. He was washing me with forgiveness and sending me back to my family with a heart prepared to serve.
Now I could try to put a cute bow on this and end it saying, “and they all lived happily ever after,” but that would not be truthful. There are still hard days. I still have to choose to serve the Lord with gladness. The laundry still piles up and my girls can still drive me a little nuts. (I am sure I drive them nuts too!) I still find writing more fun than scrubbing my toilets, and I still have to make sure I am teaching my girls about God’s Word and not just others. I am still learning. And, honestly, some days I do waaaaay better than others.
But I am forever thankful for and forever changed by the love He poured out on me that weekend. I am so glad He broke my heart. I am so glad God sent me home.
I’m finding out Dorothy was right – there really is no place like home.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.”
Psalm 51:7,8 (NKJV)
“I know, O Lord, that Your decisions are fair; You disciplined me because I needed it. Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant.” Psalm 119:75,76(NLT)