I’ve realized how often I get on here and lament how hard things are, so I wanted to clarify a bit.
1) My prayer and purpose in writing is not to list all the ways in which I am a wonderful wife and mother, but rather my hope is to be transparent about my weaknesses so that anyone who reads (and later when I read) might be reminded of how good and big and faithful and gracious God is. My prayer is to be a woman, wife, mom, etc. who is leaning wholly on the power of Christ in me, not on any merit of my own, and to share the ways I am (slowly, painfully) learning to walk through daily life clinging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So if it seems like it’s always hard, always overwhelming, always exhausting, well, it is. But not hopelessly so. The things that make being a homemaker so hard are also the things that make it so beautiful. And if I could just do it, easily, all. by. myself. well, then, how would I know how marvelous and loving and sweet my Jesus is?
2) This past month or so, however, I have in fact been in a funk. Miserable Mondays were stretching into whole weeks and the nagging feeling of being just. exhausted. was camping out for entirely too long. I couldn’t motivate myself to do much of anything. There was a lot of irritability too (read: sin), but it all seemed to flow out of this never ending fatigue. I knew I wasn’t sleeping well, even on nights Adrienne was; I thought maybe that was it. But when it continued to linger, the thought finally occurred to me that something might actually be wrong. I was pumped at the thought of a possible medical pick-me-up and headed to the doctor. Long story short, I am anemic.
Who knew I could be so excited about that diagnosis? But I loved it because, well, I can fix that! I can take iron! With some other friends’ advice, I also discovered the possibility of a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which leads to fatigue and anemia. I can take Vitamin B12! And, just for good measure, I’ll start drinking cod liver oil because it’s one of those healthy things you’re supposed to do. And I want to be healthy!
Silly as my strategies may sound, they contributed to a vast improvement. My energy level has been so much better, in fact, that I’ve told Jordan Vitamin B12 is like speed or something. I have so much energy I don’t know what to do with myself. So I went outside and laid pavers and dug up landscaping and cleaned the house and did laundry and actually cooked and exercised and did all of the things I’ve been wanting to but have lacked the motivation.
But, alas, there’s a downside. While I was so excited to find a solution to my physical symptoms, how dismayed I was to discover that Vitamin B12 does not actually change my heart. With all my newfound energy, I still chose tasks over people, and snapped at any little person who got in my way. All that productivity felt so wonderful. So fulfilling. So…godly?
The truth is, I barely sat down to read my Bible, and when I did, I spent more time grumbling about whoever was interrupting me. I didn’t let Hadley reap the benefits of this burst of energy by doing something fun and surprising; I sent her off to play by herself so I could lay pavers. And at the week’s end, all the bitterness and envy and irritability that had been piling up all week landed itself square on my husband’s shoulders.
Yet still, somehow, there is hope.
With the realization that Vitamin B12 was not changing my heart came the realization that something else was dominating it.
In Rescuing Ambition, Dave Harvey talks about contentment. He references Philippians 4, where Paul writes that he has learned in whatever situation to be content, and then comments:
Since Paul’s ambitions were not selfish, he could live with them unfulfilled. Sure, he had dreams and desires – but they were God-focused, not Paul-focused. If they remained unsatisfied, that was God’s business. So Paul was able to aspire for more while resting peacefully in what God provided. He hungered for more but was happy with less. Deferred dreams didn’t eat away at him. Paul could be at peace in the present without abandoning hopes for the future. (123)
I read this awhile ago and thought of it in terms of all the big, I’m-going-to-change-the-world ambitions I have. It wasn’t until last week that it occurred to me that my daily to-do list is filled with selfish ambitions. I want to clean, do my projects outside, write, or whatever, and I want to do them all so that I can be fulfilled, so that I can be refreshed, so that I can feel productive.
I don’t think there is anything inherently sinful in the tasks I aspire to accomplish in the week. But if I was truly pursuing my daily tasks for God’s glory and in obedience to him, then I could respond like Paul and aspire for more while resting peacefully in what God provides. When I start to cling to my tasks so tightly that time reading my Bible and in prayer, and intentional time with my family become irritating interruptions to my productivity, then I think I have missed the point of my ambitions.[[I will add that I think there’s an element of discipline and time management in here. How can I be mad when Hadley is ready to go play and there’s still a list a mile long of things to do but I have wasted half the day clicking through facebook? While processing through all of this with Jordan, I realized my desperate need for accountability in what I am doing when I’m at home with the girls. Maybe a post for another day, but asking Jordan to take on greater authority in how we spend our days has brought freedom and encouragement that I didn’t even realize I needed. I think for him too.]]
So. There has been lots of repentance around here. And by no means instant perfection. But I approached time in Orlando with Adrienne as practicing ground. I desperately wanted to attend the conference with my full, undivided attention but also knew that traveling with a five-month-old would make that a challenge at best, a complete impossibility at worst. God was gracious, and as I mentioned before, the challenges with Adrienne were minimal. She was like a brand new baby. And I got to enjoy her, take in the conference with only a few interruptions, and even got some sleep. (I guess that means it was only sort of practice.)
That was probably more than I meant to write on the subject. 🙂 But it is the beginning of another week. And it’s been a good day with an early morning quiet time, some fun conversations with Hadley, a picnic at the park, playing with kittens, writing this post, and even cleaning the kitchen and making my bed! And I just realized I didn’t even take my B12!
I am constantly in awe as I’m reminded over and over again that I can’t do this alone, but the one who can do it all lives inside of me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)