Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm a mess

In the end of October I heard Julie Barnhill speak at a church here in Lansing, MI. One phrase she repeated over and over, and encouraged her audience to embrace was, "I'm a mess." Well, Julie, I'm admitting it to all of cyberspace tonight - I'm a mess!

I was a substitute teacher this afternoon, and that wore me out physically. My kids were quite needy after school, we got home late because of my subbing, I needed to get dinner ready early, and take the kids to church for a dress rehearsal for a Christmas program that’s happening this weekend. Of course things didn’t go smoothly getting out the door on time, there was fussing about getting costumes on, and once we were in the woods the boys didn’t want to listen to me or follow my direction. Climbing on logs and throwing rocks through the ice was much more interesting. It didn’t take long for me to become worn out emotionally.

It also didn’t take long for me to realize that having them participate in this program was a stupid idea. They’re boys! They don’t want to act like townspeople in Bethlehem. They want to act like boys in the woods! Armed with this realization, I battled with myself over calling it quits and sticking it out, trying to get the boys to "act" like townspeople and letting them be boys, maintaining some form of self-control and screaming at the top of my lungs. Only by the grace of God, we made it through our portion of the rehearsal and were dismissed. Of course we still had the task of getting back into the church, hanging costumes and finding our way back to the van, but surely the worst was over. HA!

Once we were safely in the privacy of our own van, my tears started flowing. I wished I was safely in the privacy of my own room, but I just couldn't hold them back any longer. When Elizabeth saw me, she got mad at the boys for “making” me cry. Joshua started calling himself “stupid” for “making” me cry. Through my tears I was trying to tell him it wasn’t his fault – that I was feeling bad anyway. (How do you explain hormones to an eight-year-old boy???) Finally, I asked if we could have a silent ride home - no one yelling at anyone else or blaming each other for things that aren't their fault anyway. Fortunately they complied.

The peace was good, as it gave me opportunity to pray and to remind myself of what is True. Yet I kept on crying, thinking, "I'm such a mess!" I was realizing again how desperately I need God. On my own I cannot manage mothering, a household, my sanity and PMS. What would I do without Him???

So, I reminded myself that He is good and all His ways are perfect. Though the evening was rough, my tears were plentiful, and I kept on thinking, "I'm a mess!" I have chosen to trust that God is fully in control and that He's using all these things to refine me. It hurts sometimes, but I know He is caring for me perfectly.

In the end, He used my daughter to speak Love to me. I was laying on my bed with the light off - trying to gain some composure before I went out and faced the kids again. Elizabeth came in, turned on the light and sat beside me. She started reading the "Love Passage for Kids" (1 Corinthians 13 - kid style) and when she finished she simply said, "They love you, Mom. They just aren't showing it very well right now." So much for gaining composure! But this time I was shedding "happy tears."

Isn't it good to know God loves us, even in our mess?


Tricia Goyer said...

Oh, have I had days like that! That's awesome that God used your daughter to speak to your heart.

I remember times when I told God, "I can't do this," and God would remind me of two things: "Run the race set before me with endurance" and "in your weakness My strength is complete!"

He also reminded me to let boys be boys and not to compare myself or my kids with others, which are both so HARD!!! (And which I continue to struggle with.)

Now that my kids are teens, I'm reaping the benefits from those early years of diligence, tears, and prayers. They are not perfect kids (far from it) but they love God and their family, which I think is great!

Irritable Mother said...

Thanks, Tricia!

I'm trusting God to take me through this young childhood stage. And I know the stages to come will have their own challenges...But thanks for the encouragement that my diligence, tears and prayers will indeed pay off. (Hmmm - for as many tears as I shed the other night, the future ought to be absolutely glorious!!!)