I think I've shared before how I have considered other names for this blog, like, "Naked Me," or "Muddling Through," because so often that's where I feel like I'm at. I know I probably expose more of myself than I should here sometimes (or according to one loved one, perhaps more of my family than I should) but it's my nature to be very transparent, very out there. I have had people applaud it in the past, but the truth is probably that it's more of a defense mechanism than an altruistic trait. It's like I shove it all out front, so if you are going to reject me, have all the facts and reject me now rather than get to know me slowly and decide to reject me later because you may not like what you discover about me when I'm already invested in you. And "muddling through" has seemed like a more apropos description because I often realize as I write it all out, this "walk of faith" is constantly a struggling one. But I digress, well sort of, because I think I'm about to expose myself and my latest muddling.
Lately life feels like a struggle, and the closest thing I can relate it to is a long birthing labor. It feels like I am riding the waves of pain to the point of feeling like some progress is going to be made, only to have it subside for a moment but only in to weariness. I remember when I was in labor with Jacob, I hurt for hours and then would be told I wasn't transitioning, there was no significant progress. I feel like I'm back in the very same place I was over 14 years ago. Except back then I was only trying to push forth a healthy infant, now I'm trying to bring forth a good man. The physical pain was more intense back then, but the emotional ride is far more difficult now.
I guess parenting is like that, it's in stages. There are times when you feel like you're pushing and pushing, but you can't always see the birth of the effort. When they are very little, it's a lot of constant labor, late nights, nursing, changing diapers, going through the same motions over and over again. It can be physically exhausting. When they are a little older it's more of a mental battle. You become the enforcer, all the rules laid out, repeated; laid out, repeated, it's all about follow-through, follow-through, follow-through, oh, and then follow-through. Please and thank you's, wash your hands, pick up your toys, play nice, share... the list is so long. Then you become the policeman, following after them, discovering their "crimes" and ticketing them with time outs for the little offenses, and for capital crimes really having to bring down the law. I guess that's where I'm at with my littler ones. It's repetitive and not always fun, but the process is still in the box, still with clear boundaries.
But this age and stage Jacob is at is so much scarier in so many ways. At his age we as parents are beginning to lose our domain. This is the time where you have to loosen the reins, in the act of discipline comes the offer of freedom. It's like a tug of war. You give them inches, hope they don't take miles. Sigh, and when they do, you have to pull them back in, begin the battle of release again, slowly letting out the ropes, hoping they don't get too tangled up in the process, and that if they fall they don't do any serious damage. I know Jacob is a pretty good kid, but this is the beginning of the season in his life where he has to begin to become a good man. There is a great burden in the sense of responsibility that carries.
There are a lot of days where it feels like nothing I've ever said has been heard. And then just as suddenly something will happen and my frustrations are completely overwhelmed by pride and joy. It's like a roller coaster. Did mention I only like roller coasters in amusement parks?
It would be one thing if this sense of labor was only happening in my parenting, but it's ongoing in my relationship with the Lord too. Tonight at church we had a different kind of worship service, they were baptizing people in the Holy Spirit and I was trying so hard to really dig in and focus on the Lord. But I am so distractable. I know I've shared that before.
In respect to my relationship with the Lord, it's not always weariness that the labor subsides into, often it's just life and its busyness. Tonight for example, I really wanted to meet the Lord there at service, have an encounter. My mind would wander, I would focus again, pray in the Spirit and reach with my heart. Towards the end of the night I felt like I was so close, almost there, and then it was time to go get the kids. I had to stop and be mom and go get the children because Neal couldn't, he was on stage playing worship, so I had to let go. It's so frustrating, disheartening even.
It's no one's fault, not even mine, it's just this season of struggle. I know the words, "Do not grow weary in doing good," and "Press on towards the prize," but sometimes the labor wears you out so badly you just feel like you can't go one more minute. I think the hardest thing is knowing what I need, to go to the Lord and sit in His presence, and yet, it feels like the one thing I can't seem to do. Tonight as I was reaching desperately I had this sense, almost a vision, like there was this cap holding back the fullness of the Lord. The problem is, I don't know what the cap is or how to get rid of it. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
Tonight after church I had to bring the kids home and get everyone ready for bed because Neal was still at church playing worship. I had to postpone my run to the grocery store till after he got home. When I finally went to the store I took my MP3 player and played worship music. Just before I got back home an old hymn came on, the line that struck me was this,
"O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer."
I know the Lord spoke to me a few weeks ago that this is where I need to make change. But as they say, knowledge only becomes wisdom when we act upon it.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
One friend sent this to me just as I was reading a note of encouragement from another.
I have been feeling extremely discouraged and highly ineffective, bordering on depressed lately. I feel like I can't accomplish anything and that nothing I have given myself to is working. This video reminds me that my victory is not in myself.
This is one of our family verses, it's where Victoria's name comes from.
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:3-5