God Sees Us When We Ugly-Cry

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As I collapsed onto the cold kitchen floor, I began to cry—ugly cry. I was exhausted. In what felt like a blink of an eye, I went from mom of two busy dirty blonde toddlers to a mom of four. It had been a few months since a beautiful but malnourished five-month-old and big-hearted seven-year-old came from Ethiopia to join our family. But today, the reality washed over me. I was drowning.

Lord, is this really what we’re supposed to be doing? You’ve got to give me more strength. I held tiny Imani tight to my chest, and my blondies crawled onto my lap. A few feet away, Ezekiel stared at me with wide eyes, likely thinking that this white lady had completely lost her mind.

Then, as tears dropped from my eyes, the Lord whispered a single word to my heart:

Firstfruits.

I was bewildered. Firstfruits, Lord? What does that have to do with me?

In the Bible, firstfruits are offerings of the first and best crops to God. He didn’t want His people to give Him what was left over. He wanted the best-of-the-best first.

And that’s when I realized: I wasn’t giving Him my firstfruits of anything. Instead, He got the leftovers of my time, my energy, and my heart. Sure, I was going to Bible study every week—but if I was honest, it was for the coffee and childcare more than my relationship with Him. I was in survival-mode, after all. Everything I did was sporadic and hurried.

Now, He beckoned me to put Him first. Above everything. But I couldn’t get up any earlier in the morning. Imani wasn’t even close to sleeping through the night. As it was, I was literally falling asleep at stop signs.

Gently, the Lord nudged me toward another part of my day: naptime. Would I spend first moments of the kids’ naptime with Him? At first, I pushed back: But this is when I pick up the toys, wash the never-ending dishes, throw a load of laundry in. This is when I do all the things!

But even in the midst of my exhaustion, I clung to this hope: God didn’t want me to live burned out and overwhelmed. He wanted more for me, more for our relationship. So, even though it felt counterintuitive, I began to offer Him firstfruits.

And you know what? I grew in my relationship with Him…and I still got everything done. More than everything, actually.

Moment by moment, Jesus gave me fresh strength and loved me back to life.

I’m not saying I never lost my temper. I can’t promise I never again cried in exhaustion. But life was suddenly manageable. I took the joy God was offering. I held onto patience and kindness. I was more loving.

Years later, after a teenage son and another baby daughter joined our family, the Lord asked me to give up my precious naptime moments—and instead to start waking up hours before the rest of the family. I’m not a morning person. I want to snuggle deeper into my covers when my alarm chimes. But each morning I make a conscious decision:

What’s more important…my relationship with my pillow or with my Jesus?

I’d rather pick Jesus every time.

Lord Jesus, you see us when we ugly-cry. You understand our exhaustion, our ache. Thank you for whispering that You’re there and You’ve never left. Help each of us learn to put you first. Above everything. Love us back to life, Lord. Because we want You…so much more of You.

Amen.


Teresa Swanstrom Anderson
Teresa Swanstrom Anderson

To spend intentional, rich time with God during your busy life, check out Teresa’s new Get Wisdom Bible study series. Watch the video below to learn more.

In the Get Wisdom Bible Studies Teresa Swanstrom Anderson guides with a winsome style that is rich in depth and approachable for new and longtime readers of the Bible alike. Dig into the books of Joshua, Psalms, and Philippians, and grow your leadership, hope, unity, authenticity, and communities. Watch a video about each book, take a peak inside them, and download everything you need for your next small group at getwisdombiblestudies.com.

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