Alexandra Kuykendall is my mentor in the things that are right before me - embracing them as the gifts they are. Read on and learn to relish your actual life.
The Choice to Love My Actual Life
By Alexandra Kuykendall
The brunch was served to me in bed on a tray, by little hands with sticky fingers. It was the kind of morning I'd fantasized about years earlier: a Mother's Day breakfast in bed surrounded by my gaggle of children.
But as with all fantasies, the reality didn't match up to the images that had swirled through my head for so long. The champagne flute was there. But it was filled with chocolate milk and the coffee cup had sloshed a bit on its way from the kitchen to the bedroom, so the tray had a shallow pool of brown liquid. The center of the meal, a bit of frozen waffle with peanut butter and jelly smeared in patches, stared up at me from our family's red ceramic plate with the words "You Are Special" etched around the edge.
The faces that went with the tiny sticky hands beamed. They knew they were delivering up something special. That is until one girl kicked another because everyone was jockeying to be the closest to the morning's special person: me. Not exactly the picturesque, soothing breakfast I'd imagined pre-motherhood.
It's these small moments where the choice lies. Right in between the beautiful and the boring. These small moments determine how we want to view, even live, our days. With disappointment and criticism or with gratitude for the goodness that we can't run from. God's goodness that follows us to every corner of our mundane.
This Mother's Day brunch was served a year ago, right smack in the middle of a nine-month experiment I was conducting on loving my actual life. The life where expectations and reality collide more often than they match up. Where I wasn't willing to wait for the big things to change to enjoy the current truth. I was looking for how I could relish the right here and now.
I made small adjustments as the experiment progressed. One area of my life, one month at a time. But more than tricks on making my days run more smoothly, I found my eyes and heart were opened to what God was already doing in the world around me. Yes, right in front of me.
More than anything I was gaining new way to see my actual life.
The last few months I've been coming back to these verses from the sixth chapter of Galatians:
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (Galatians 6:5-6, The Message)
Just live this one life with the creative best I can muster. The coffee might be cold, but the moment is precious and fleeting. And it's my moment that God has offered up to me. I can take it and cherish it or move past it at the speed of the over-busy life I lead.
As I sat in my bed I tried to freeze that scene, that instant, in my brain, sear it on my heart. Never again would I have a Mother's Day exactly like this one, with my children the ages and heights just as they were. I made the choice to pay attention. To my reality. No matter how loud or sticky or messy it was.
I want to capture today and love it for all I can. Because today is what God has given me.
Alexandra Kuykendall lives in the shadows of downtown Denver with her husband Derek and their four daughters. She spends her days washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. All while trying to sneak in chunks of time to work on various writing projects. She is the author of The Artist's Daughter: A Memoir and her new book Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me. Alex is co-hostess of the annual Open Door Retreat and speaks to women's groups around the country on issues of parenting, faith and personal growth. Connect with Alex at AlexandraKuykendall.com.