Allison Schrader is a truth telling, boo-boo kissing, coffee drinking, lover of Jesus. A gifted teacher and aspiring author, Allison spends most days with her three littles. In the messes, the mayhem and even the mundane, she searches for the Holy and the Miraculous. And, in the thick of it all she throws her hands in the air offering her Hallelujahs for this life she has been given.
I’m calling on the worn-out, tired, hurried souls. I have a story for you. In between laundry and dishes, ABC’s and 123’s, it was carefully crafted in the deep places of my heart.
On a search for worth and meaning a young woman, wife, mama, daughter, friend, found herself one dark night in a puddle of quiet sobs. Huddled over a sleepless baby in a big blue chair, face and eyes ruddy from the flow of feelings, she found herself at the glorious feet of Jesus.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the very beginning, since after all, it is a very good place to start.
There once was a woman, young and full of promise. Newly married and ready to live her happily ever after, she jumped right into this grown-up life with all the right intentions and a smile on her face. Everyday she headed up a great big hill and when she got to the top she did her job for the day. Day after day and hour after hour she toiled away giving her all and giving her best, proving to others, but mostly to herself, that she was needed. Proving she was valued; she was an integral part of a great big plan.
Well-liked and well-received, this young woman believed this was her best version of herself and her life. Her hard work paid off. She was paid the praise for which she longed, her craving for worth and significance, satisfied. But in the quiet moments, when she let her soul slow itself just a bit, the word, “impostor,” flashed across the screen of her mind. Words like “fake,” “unworthy,” “not-good-enough,” haunted her. They drove her to try even harder to prove them wrong. What had started a very long time ago in a garden with a snake and some sin was propelling her, pushing her. This curse of striving became the driving force of all that she did.
Striving has a sneaky way of looking good. Just like a bright and shiny piece of fruit, it can tempt us to think it’s the best way to go. Everyone praises a hard worker. Everyone loves the self-made man or woman. ‘No rest for the weary’ is an admirable adage.
As she worked out her worth receiving the accolades of men and women, a thick cloud seemed to form over her head. Chronic feelings of over-tired shadowed her days and as she began to stagger in the fog of it all she stumbled upon a fork in the road.
Five years into this grown-up life, she and her husband had grown into a family of three. A sweet little toddler demanded more than this new mama could give after all the hours and all the days filled with all the trying. Scared and uncertain, this young woman found the courage to raise her white flag and surrender. With a belly beginning to swell again full of new life and new promise, she started down a new path.
She headed home to stay.
He came two weeks early and they named him Noah. In Hebrew it means ‘rest’ or ‘comforter.’ With hearts bursting they brought him home breathing in all the goodness of a newborn. The first 8 weeks of his life were like any other tiny human’s: growth spurts, feedings, diaper changes— all the glamour.
It came so unexpectedly. When things were supposed to be falling into a new rhythm, a chord of dissonance struck. In the 9th week of Noah’s life something changed. Instead of sleeping he was screaming almost every hour of every night. Talks with the doctor, books about sleep, food restrictions, advice from many, were all tried and applied. Yet nothing could bring rest to the one named, “Rest.” All she could do was try to survive.
It’s true what they say about motherhood. It can be beautiful and wonderful and all kinds of magical in so many ways. But the truest things are often left quiet. In the truest moments motherhood can leave a woman exhausted, anxious, bitter, isolated and feeling like she is the only one going through what she is going through.
In the midst of wrestling an infant to rest, this young woman’s heart began to wrestle as well.
One long night as she melted into the well-formed contours of the cushions in her big blue rocking chair, the floodgates opened.
This soul all broken and worn down had two choices: Keep on striving and trying or simply surrender.
Her war-torn spirit knew that anymore trying would just lead to more dying inside. With a small faith and big breath she said,“If I’m going to be awake all night, I might as well do something useful. I will pray.”
Her words marked a moment that would define her lifetime. Surrender is simple, but it is the struggle to let go that often holds us back. In her very human words she invited a very divine encounter: one that would change her forever. No longer would she seek sleep as the answer. Rest wasn’t what she really needed after all. She needed to be ‘rest’-ored.
What began as desperate cries for a baby to sleep turned desperate cries for others and for herself.
She cried out from the deep places, the ugly places, the hurt places and every place in-between. Night after night the prayers wafted up like incense, drenched heart-cries of a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, a woman who needed her Savior.
The days were still busy and her hands were always full with a baby and a toddler and a house and a husband and all the fixings that go right along with it all. Yet, in the midst of unchanging circumstances her heart was changing day by day.
It would take some time to put words to the miraculous that had unfolded. In fact, it would be many miracles down the line: a promise, a race, another baby, and many more surrenders, but one day she would stumble upon these words:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
This fancy word, “abide,” was a picture of surrender and trust: letting go of the trying, the control, the striving and instead, resting in the power of the Holy Spirit. In between laundry and dishes, ABC’s and 123’s she saw His miraculous meet her mundane and she began to thrive.
To read more stories of how “abiding” has changed one woman’s life visit Allison Schrader and The Abiding Place at www.allisonschrader.com.