Psalm 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."
John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Friends, can we embrace our “Work in Progress” status for a moment and be honest? Because I really, really need some reassurance. I just have to know: Am I the only harried hamster getting pummeled by the wheel of life??
My kid brought cupcakes to school on his birthday. Sure, they were store-bought, and they might possibly have originally been for the birthday party we still haven’t totally planned (his birthday was last month), but they were there, and on the right day, so that should count for something. And the other day I donated money to the youth bake sale. I’m pretty sure the wadded-up dollars I pulled from my wallet belonged to my kids, but I’ll pay them back, eventually. And I might not have remembered the meeting at work, but I happened to be making copies in the office when everyone started congregating, so I just slipped in a vacant seat and boom--it looked like I was on time and ready to go!
I really am trying to keep it all together. And I feel like most of the time, I am squeaking by with a passing grade. Maybe not Human of the Year, but Human of the Day. Or at least Honorable Mention.
So awhile back, we asked our son to pray at dinner time. He’s just turned 7 (with a party in the near-future, I promise). So he’s praying and doing an awesome job, by the way, and he’s asking God to help those who are sick, and help sister with her test, and thank you for Dad fixing things all the time, and then he says, “and God, help Mom to not be stressed!” Oh. Well, that’s funny! Where in the world did he come up with that? Kids are so cute. So, the next night, he prays again. “God, thank you for extra recess, and help Dad get home safe, and help Mom not be stressed!” And so it goes, night after night, prayer after prayer. Everyone else was covered in prayer for sniffles, school awards, long trips, and great days. Mom--well God, she just needs help! Help Mom not be stressed, help Mom not be tired...It went from being cute to eye-opening, and more than a little troubling! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that he loves me enough to worry about my mental health, but...is this how my kids see me? A perpetual ball of stress-in-motion?
As I thought about it more, I realized that yes--that’s exactly the vibe I’m radiating. Apparently, I’m not shining a light of love and joy when I’m grumpily rushing to buy cupcakes last-minute or complaining about my mile-long to-do list. Go figure! I see all my hard work as demonstrating love for my family, but that’s not how it’s reflecting outwardly. In all of my striving to be Mom (or Wife, or Colleague, or Church Member) of the Year, I’m stressing myself out, and it’s showing. I try to justify my craziness by telling myself I have to live up to a certain standard to pour into others, but honestly, when I’m making myself stressed over getting it all done, it doesn’t take long at all for the negativity to bubble up and overflow, and is that really what I want to pour? Yikes! If my kids look back on their childhood and remember that Mom was always stressed, am I really showing them the Godly way to live? My relationships on earth should be just like my relationship with Jesus: I don't "earn points" with how much I DO. I need to show love through devotion, affection, and connection. Then I can dish up some Fruit of the Spirit for my family and friends while saving a much-needed plate for myself, too.
The bottom line is this: If I want to pour out love, I have to have love, and if I want to pour out peace, I have to have peace. Peace cannot live in the house where stress resides. Neither can love and joy.
And so, in light of this lesson, I am trying to walk on a little more peaceful path. I’m trying to slow down and remember that above all, I want my family to know that I love them, and that I need to show it in more positive ways. I will do what I can do, and I won’t stress over the other stuff. So what if my affection doesn’t shine in the form of the perfect Pinterest birthday party? Maybe instead, it radiates in the form of endless hugs and “I’m so glad you are mine!” assurances. And maybe a few store-bought cupcakes. Purchased with love.