Nothing really had changed. Things hadn’t gotten worse, or really better. The same challenges, the same child, the same annoyances, the same every day tiredness.
I sat in my bedroom Saturday with nothing changed, just life and its messiness that no one else is here to see, and told my husband I just didn’t care anymore. He knew, of course, that those emotions in the moment weren’t true, and gently reminded me that I really did.
But in the moment? All I wanted to do was shower in peace. Without someone crying, someone arguing. To tell someone to do something and have them actually do it, for pete’s sake. Without either a.) whining, b.)bothering someone else who is probably supposed to be doing something too, or c.)going out to the garage to check on the various wildlife/latest puppy escapade/weedeater
My panic button was flashing continuously, and all my warm and fuzzy autumnal moments were distant memories, even though they hadn’t been long removed. In fact, it seemed as though all my overwhelm socked me in the gut and I was left breathing hard, lost, without a truth reminder to be found.
Tears leaked trails on my cheeks and I stared into space in our bedroom, my husband speaking calm to my heart.
I spent the weekend alternately doing mechanically the things that needed done, going to town by myself, desperately searching for things to calm my heart. Praying, aching, and wondering what-in-the-world made it all seem impossible right now.
I hesitate to be too open about the challenges in our home. One of my issues with writing is the tension between real life and a pretty picture that is only true some of the time. I can post sweet pictures of family bliss, without writing about the tantrum being thrown off to the side. So in my quest for joy, as well as my desire for honesty in my writing, I’m faced with writing about both, and hoping my heart comes through each time. There is both gratitude and gritty, messy life happening at our house.
The truth that I know is that all of us have hard things in one form or another. I also know that when we face those very challenges, we can too easily make them into something much bigger than they are. I do this. We have a hard day? Suddenly my mind is whirling with the hard future we are sure to face with the particular child we are dealing with. A bad attitude? Oh my, this one as a teenager is going to be impossible.
And all those thoughts are absolutely toxic. Faithless.
I know this, but it’s just hard some days. Just plain hard to remember truth when the lies fly fierce and fast toward my heart. The all-too-familiar thought processes begin to seep in, wrapping tentacles of anxiety around my mind: “Why me? What is wrong with us? No other families have problems like this. I don’t have a clue what to do, and I’m pretty sure I never will. Other mothers are seated with their obedient and joyful children as they all learn quickly and then they all frolic happily in the meadow when school is over.” (Mine frolic. Yes. They do. Not always happily. And for some reason they like to frolic in and out the door, leaving it open much of the time, rather than spending their time in the meadow.)
This weekend I was in full-on pity party mode. And as a result, I started freaking out about every.single.behavior. My children became people who were in my way, annoyed me, and I simply wanted to escape. (Not sure if anyone who reads this can relate?) Even though I KNOW that they are beautiful gifts, they don’t FEEL like it all the time. Especially when the shrill whistling (is it possible to whistle at the top of one’s lungs? If so, my children have it mastered.) never seems to end.
So that’s real life at our house.
I knew I needed a dose of truth. A reminder of something. Anything to re-focus my mind on what is true, good, lovely. I’ve lived life when things aren’t awesome and had amazing perspective in the face of it all. It can be done. I know it can.
I know there are ways to focus my mind on things above. I can shift my heart and mind into praising God for progress. (I do.) Praising Him for Spirit-help that moves me through my days. I can (and do) thank Him for all the good He has in store for my family. I can ask Him to show me how to love, how to cultivate an atmosphere of grace in our home.
And these things are all good, all a part of the necessary attitudes in facing whatever it is we are facing.
The thing is, it really doesn’t matter what it is that our Thing is. Health? Children? Marriage? Addiction? Mundane? Money? Loneliness?
It just isn’t important what our thing is… that thing that dogs us, pestering us with snide reminders that pretend to be truth… telling us that if this thing were removed or fixed, we’d finally be ok. We know life wouldn’t be perfect, say, but we would be free of this thing, and we could breathe freely, and walk a little more upright.
So as I wallowed in my emotional exhaustion this weekend, I kept asking this question in my heart. “How can I continue to do this, day after day? How can I regain perspective?”
And after we had put everyone to bed last night, and I was cleaning up the popcorn bowls and grape juice cups, my dear, dear husband walked up to me and framed my face with his hands.
He looked deep into my eyes and said “Here is your word for the day: ‘Elect’.”
I glanced quizzically at him, and he continued: “Elect. It means chosen. Picked. You’ve been chosen by God to fulfill what He has for you to do. You’ve been chosen by Him. You’re His favorite. You’re who He wants. You’ve been chosen to be my wife, chosen to be the mother of these children. But most of all? You’re chosen to be His. His very own.”
Tears welled in my eyes. The relief kind of tears you cry when suddenly all the world rights itself from its crazy off-kilter spinning, and everything makes sense.
He picked me.
He sees me as the apple of His eye. His favorite. Daddy’s little girl. He wants me.
There is nothing like acceptance, value, and a knowledge of who I am and who He has made me, and the fact that this means I get to call my King, “Abba” that makes me feel like I can take on the world.
Well, except He already did. He took on the world. And so often it feels like it’s all on my shoulders. Yet again, false perspective.
We sat down last night in our living room – I’d lit a candle and put up a few twinkle lights around the pumpkins on our mantle, and as I began to finish crocheting the edge on my new dishcloth, our conversation continued.
My husband reminded me that it’s only my job to do the best with what I know. To pray, to stay humble, to cry out to our Lord for help. To raise these children with faith, with hope, with love. He reminded me that I need to stop freaking out all the time. (Thank you, dear husband. Truth.)
It’s not my job to worry about the future. To carry the world on my shoulders. It’s not my job to try to fix behavior, even. It’s my job to trust. To keep coming back to the One who made me and the precious (yes, marvelous treasures) ones I have the privilege of teaching and loving each day.
So it’s what we do with what we have. The thing that separates the hopeful and the hopeless is perspective. It’s knowing Whose we are. It’s choosing to do the right thing, over and over and over. And knowing that every single right choice is known by the Knower of All. It changes everything. Nothing circumstantially may have changed. But this truth? It changes everything.
He sees us.
We are not alone.
We are chosen.
Romans 8:33 “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”