Monday, June 25, 2012
Sticking with my theme of randomness, here are a few confessions from one momma to another.
1. The real story behind the cooking, part one
One of the reasons I've loved cooking for all the men who've been working around the house this week is that it has kept me inside. The girls and I usually play outside in the mornings, but cooking lunch for the guys has kept us in. And I've not been too sad. You see, we have recently had too many encounters with black widows. Now, one reason is because we have been doing a lot of landscaping and home improvement projects since moving into this house three years ago (i.e. laying a brick patio, placing bricks around raised beds, and moving a lot of rock stepping stones to make a path through our garden). We have disrupted a lot of good hiding spots for black widows. If those were the only times we had seen them, I wouldn't be too worried. However, we have also discovered them around our foundations vents, on our deck near our back door, and--worst of all--inside our window screens. This has made me less than enthusiastic to step outside my door. I do. Every day. But I don't always want to. I am constantly having to remind myself: "God does not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7) I may not be paralyzed by fear, but I'm still calling my bug guy today.
The real story behind the cooking, part two
One of you readers gave me a sweet compliment about my cooking recently. What you should know is this: I never cook like that! Not four straight days in a row. Does anyone? If you do, please don't tell me. Because the truth of the matter is that I have not cooked a single meal in at least three days. Really. I painted all day Friday; we ate out every meal. I painted Saturday morning; so, my man and I skipped breakfast and I am willing to bet money that my girls had donuts that morning because they ate at their Nana's. We ate out for lunch, and my family had toast and fruit for supper while I skipped out to have supper with a friend. Breakfast bars rescued me on Sunday morning, Arby's covered lunch, and DiGiorno took care of supper. I threw in lots of fruit from the farmer's market to counter my fast-food guilt, but I didn't dirty up one pan all weekend. And yet my kitchen is still a mess. How is that possible? Anywho, it's a new week, and my plan is to actually cook again today...after I clean my kitchen.
2. The real story behind the calmness
I once had a momma tell me she wondered how I was always so calm. She said I seemed so "together." I laughed. I told her that I could hardly believe that calmness is what she "saw" because what I feel is chaos. I wish this wasn't so, but I nearly always feel like there's a three-ring circus in my head.
When I was younger, school was over-whelming to me. In elementary school, I had constant stomach aches. Constant. My mom took me to doctors. They ran tests. They concluded nothing was wrong with me except I was "high-strung." As I moved into high school, the stomach aches became so severe that I would bend over double and cry. Crazy thing was that after a good cry, I usually felt better. Which leads me to believe the diagnosis was correct: it was nerves. During my freshman year of college, I would feel so over-whelmed and stressed at the end of the semester that I would shut down. I wouldn't write my final papers; I wouldn't turn in final projects; I would sleep through final exams. So, as you can imagine, I was suspended after that first year. I was not relying on God to get me through; I was relying on my own strength. But then I came to God and accepted His strength, and school became easy. I made good grades again. I didn't just do okay; I did really well.
But then ministry was over-whelming to me. Not so much the first year, but that's because I was well-connected to the Source of Life. Life doesn't seem so over-whelming when you are plugged into Life itself. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; remain in me, and you can do ALL things" and I'm paraphrasing and marrying a few verses--John 14:6, John 15:5, Philippians 4:13. But, when I quit abiding in Him, ministry became overwhelming. I can not tell you how much I failed to accomplish simply because the task seemed so daunting I would put it off and put it off. I was great at coming up with ideas, not so great at implementing them. That required way too much of me. Much of what was accomplished during the last year, or two, was done by incredible volunteers. And I knew it. I felt God asking me over and over, "That which you began in the Spirit, are you now trying to accomplish in the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3, again paraphrased)
Being a mom is over-whelming to me. Not every day, but there are certainly days that I wonder if I'm going to make it. This was particularly true when I had a toddler and a newborn, but is true even now on occasion. I struggle with balancing healthy eating, keeping a clean house, offering new experiences for my girls, playing outside, stopping to play with them when they ask, giving them individual attention, and just being in the moment with my girls. God is merciful, but even in His great mercy, He really must tire of my shenanigans. I'll be plugged in for a while, and mothering is easier on those days. Then, I loosen my grip on Jesus and suddenly mothering is nearly all I can do. And my children are not like final exams; I can not sleep through them. They need to be fed, bathed, nurtured, and challenged. I may be over-whelmed by responsibility, but I can not shirk from this responsibility. And so I wake up and do the thing. And some days I am plugged in and do it to the best of my ability. But when I push forward without a tight grip on Jesus, each step seems to take more energy than I have to give. And my children pay the price for my lack of energy and joy. One of my most constant prayers goes something like this, "Lord, change me for THEIR sake! Help me so they don't pay the price for my sins. May I love you more and live for you so they see you in me and, in turn, love you too." I pray my grip on Jesus is steadfast, because when it is, mothering my children is not overwhelming, it is a JOY! And please, don't misunderstand me, every day has moments of joy. And every day brings difficulties. But the theme of each day varies greatly according to my walk with Jesus.
3. The real story behind my struggles
This is two-fold. First, as I mentioned above, I am inconsistent. My struggles would be reduced to dust if I would keep a tight hold on Jesus. And, when I refer to my hold on Jesus, I'm really referring to the consistency of my quiet time. Tight hold = consistent time alone with my Savior and Redeemer. Looser grip = sporadic quality time with Jesus, sometimes going days without the Bread of Life and Living Water. During those times I'm running on empty. No wonder life seems over-whelming. It's like trying to run a marathon without eating or drinking anything for days before-hand. I have no fuel for the race. And life is a race. A hard race. A marathon. (See Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7, and Philippians 3:13.)
Second, I have a hard time believing I am who God says I am. Again, some of this disbelief dissipates when I'm in the Word, but even then, I really struggle to believe that God sees me in a positive light. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: I think so many of our problems (and I mean my problems) would dissolve if we (I) could grasp how much God loves us (me). If I could just get it to sink into my marrow that God loves me and sees me as holy, blameless, pure, righteous, forgiven, and new...
Lord, may I believe it. May all of us who bear your holy seal believe it.
The song comes to mind again. I sing it all the time. Hoping it will sink in.
I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved
I am new
P.S. Before any of you start worrying or calling me, please know that I really do know that God never tires of us. And I know His love is steadfast. He IS love. And I know that even when we are less than obedient, He is still faithful. He is good, all the time. But it's much easier for me to believe that is true for you than for me. When I'm less than my own expectations of myself, I struggle with accepting that He sees me as holy and blameless, forgiven and loved. But I know it's true. And, as I continue to soak in His Word, I know the truth will soak into the marrow of my being. It won't just be something I know, it will be part of who I am.
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2, NLT, emphasis mine)