So much pain all around me; so much hard, excruciating pain. I am one little person and right off the top of my head I can think of a whole string of people who are dealing with pain - a freak accident that ended in the death of a loved one; the news of aggressive brain cancer in a father; the death of a mother who suffered from cancer; a tiny foster baby with a loving family hoping to adopt, who's father now wants custody - the list feels endless.
How do you even begin praying for all the pain?
I've had this theme going on here lately of treasuring the moments; of realizing how little time I have with the people I love. All the pain makes me long for the land of rest and that, in turn, makes me long to live life well while I'm here.
How do you make the connection between that longing and the actual nuts and bolts of your life?
Summer vacation has begun. Monday I sat in utter frustration with two of my five, trying unsuccessfully to settle a fuss. I finally lit on this bit of motherly wisdom, "The bottom line is, the two of you don't really care about each other. All you are thinking about is yourselves. I can make the two of you do the 'right thing' but I'm not really fixing the problem."
True. So true, mother. But you want to know the real truth? The real truth is, the mother has the same problem. The mother thinks mostly of herself and wants to just say, "Straighten up and behave!"
This began a battle in my heart. Was I going to think about myself all summer and struggle with lazy, fussing, bored children or was I going to lay down my selfishness and be engaged in teaching and training and learning together. I confess, I kicked pretty hard against the pricks. I hate it when I know in my heart what the solution is but I'd rather try to pretend I need one, ya know?
Tuesday I got a call from the library that a book I had on hold was in, so we did a library run Tuesday afternoon and I came home with this:
I don't read books very often these days. If I get a book, I have no self restraint - I'll stay up into the wee hours, I'll sit and not get my work done, I'll ignore my children... So I just don't get books; pathetic, I know.
It so happened that Tuesday night the two oldest were gone on a school privilege trip and the next two were invited away for the night. This left me with one little boy and one husband and I valiantly kept it to three chapters and went to bed like a good girl. But Wednesday morning? Wednesday morning there was just one little boy and I fed him poptarts and gave him smiles and nods and.... I finished the whole book.
Don't judge me; you would have too. It's just that kind of book! I laughed out loud and I wiped tears. I've always said I love Chip and Joanna because they remind me of us, and they do. And I needed to learn some lessons from Jo.
One of those came to me with a torrent of tears and kleenex when I read how she sat on her couch with it's white slipcover and saw all the little black fingerprints her children had left. I don't have a white couch cover and I'm not trying to keep everything perfect like she was but I needed the epiphany she received when she suddenly asked herself, "Am I going to just survive or am I going to thrive?"
Some of you aren't selfish, like me, and maybe this seems like "duh, hello!" but it came to me like a flash through the tears that this was really my struggle. I could hang on to my selfishness and get through this summer (this life) and survive or I could engage with my children and lay down my selfishness and we could all thrive.
How that should look, I don't have all figured out. I know that it will mean less me time. I know it will mean being more intentional and having some structure. I know it will mean doing the harder things that will reap benefits in the long run. I'm not sharing this because I have it all figured out; I'm sharing it because I need it. I need to admit my problem and I need to figure out how to make that connection between the longing and working it out in the nuts and bolts of my life. Sometimes, for me, putting it in writing is the first step.