A night or so away will give a girl time to think, time to count her blessings, time to to a look at how she’s treating those blessings and whether or not THEY realize they are cherished. I know they know I love them. But I’ve realized that I’ve fallen into that daily grind kind of trap. You know the one where you get used to bossing your family around, shuttling your family around and not appreciating them. It seems that my deep investment in my family, in giving them the best, has started to manifest itself in some of the worst ways, like with frustration and impatience. Have you seen that in me? If you know me well, probably.
It goes back to my Martha complex. I am busy, busy trying to fix and arrange for everyone – my husband, my kids, my co-workers, my family, my friends – without taking the time to just be. When I don’t ever take the time to ‘just be’, I’m not examining my heart. I’m not listening to God’s still, small voice in my heart.
That frantic, busy state of being takes on many forms, but essentially, that what bubbles to the surface is frustration. I can be fussy, super focused, short-tempered, distracted, distant or just plain overly sensitive. I probably won’t tell you, though. I’m a classic ‘just fine’-er.
If I look stressed and you ask how I’m doing? I’ll answer that I’m “fine”.
If we’re disagreeing? I’m “fine”.
I drive my husband MAD with this. He knows, from 18 years of friendship, that I am not ‘fine’. In fact, he knows (all too well) that I will eventually lose it. It will come out. I’m inadvertently storing it up, trying to make it disappear because I don’t want to feel that way. I want to let it go, but all the while I’m observing everyone in the context of how out of control I’m feeling. Obviously, if I feel this way, you feel this way about me too, right? Probably not.
So, now that I’ve learned that “I’m fine” is really just a polite way to lie, now what? Well, I’ve been talking to God a LOT about this.
Being honest is essential. Relating to how hard it is to be a wife and mother is fine. But brutal honesty can turn into an attitude that makes dumping on our family seem normal. I have a right to feel any way I want to, but I have to think about how the person on the receiving end of the ‘you’re driving me crazy!’ speech is going to feel about that honesty. Freaking out on my family, ranting about how they’re making me feel at that moment just isn’t okay if our home is going be a place that feels safe, that honors God.
Example? I caught myself blaming Jonah for being slow and unorganized this week. Now, of course Jonah needs to realize that picking up the pace and having his football gear ready to go on time is important. However, he’s 9. He cannot process his mama, a trusted adult, freaking out on him in that shrill, frustrated tone. How do I expect him to react? I expect him to get it together. I expect him to all of the sudden own it and apologize. What I get is anger or tears or both. Why? Because he wants to please me and I am telling him that he’s failed me. Maybe not in those words, but that’s what his heart is hearing.
Stab me in the heart.
So, this is how prayers have gone for me lately.
“Thanks for telling me exactly what you think about this, God. Your peace isn’t in my explosions. I’m not a safe place for my family when I’m all worked up. I’m not building them up with my words, I’m tearing them down…whether I mean to or not. You’ve entrusted these three souls to me. You’ve blessed me with my husband. When I unleash all of my pent-up frustration on them, even if they are the source of the hurt or the anger or the frustration, I’ve returned those blessings to you, bruised and limping.
Dear Jesus, forgive me for exploding on my family. My best efforts are worthless without your grace. Thank you, Jesus for your grace. Thank you for your messengers, women like Lysa TerKeurst who answer the call and write books that speak to stressed out mamas like me. Help me to remember the words she wrote (that you gave her) that speak to my heart – “We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.” Help me to pause and turn to you when I’m ready to pop. Help me focus on the condition of my heart before I get into situations that cause me to lose it. Forgive me. Help me restore relationships and be that steady, godly, encouraging wife and mama that I strive to be. Amen.”
Thank heavens for the wise women out there who’ve figured this out before me and who can share with me and guide me along the way. And for those little take-away reminders like this one from the “Unglued” webcast on klove – “if I want joy in my home, I have to bring it.” Well, here’s to bringin’ it!