Thursday, October 10, 2013

worth sharing: a hard week in review

*despite the hard week, these two still make my heart beat fast and furious with love

last week most of my energy was spent frustrated, exhausted, angry, resentful, and just plain pooped.

Micah has hit a whole new level of insubordinate disobedience, rebellion, and anger. At some points last week i felt like i was being abused, all his emotional energy, frustration and anger was targeted at me. the yelling, hitting, screaming when not focused at his little sister, was spewed directly in my direction. It took all the energy i had not to explode right back at him during his outbursts. I admit i failed on more than one occasion. spankings were given, prayers were said, but day after day it all felt like one big ball of parental failure.

lunch with my mom and grandmother ended in me sitting with him outside the restaurant while they ate.

a bible study/playdate with a girlfriend was peppered by temper tantrums and tears.

by sunday i didn't even want to go to church. my energy - physical, emotional and spiritual felt zapped and drained. the well was dry, i felt empty to my toes. only in retrospect do i see that that is just the place God likes us. desperate, empty, pleading - no begging - for mercy, like the weakling in an unbalanced arm-wrestling match. that was me.

so despite wanting to stay in bed, buried in blankets we went.

and just like i should've expected both our kids were ridiculously crazy. nyla was trying to squirm out of my arms, only wanting to crawl on the ground, crying when i wouldn't let her roam free. micah wanted to stand "like his own" next to us but from experience he just wanted to find another miniature co-conspirator to his anarchy against sunday mornings. So in Curtis' arms he yelled and screamed to "get down" until he had no choice but to take him to the back. Eventually i was left there, in my seat, butt down on the chair while everyone else was standing and singing, and no doubt judging out lack of control with our mere two kids when many of them have oodles more, all well-behaved, singing along and honoring their mothers and fathers. (yeah, i know that's not what was actually happening, but it always feels like it doesn't it, when in fact, all the other parents of littles are probably in the same boat as us, thinking the same self-depricating thoughts as i) but either way, i was annoyed at my kids, annoyed at God for bringing us all the way to church to do this - discipline. crowd control. but definitely not worship. what was the point?

When we finally got both kids settled in their respective sunday school classes (the nursery for Nyla) we both breathed a sigh of relief. the sermon began by our friend jonathan, and it was good. on a passage i had never understood, so i read along and took notes.

not five minutes after it started i got a tap on my shoulder. Nyla was inconsolable in the nursery. i sighed. of course she was. as i was closing my bible to get up and get her, Curtis said, "you stay, i'll go get her." and so he did. and i stayed and listened.

the sermon was great, but it was something he said, almost unrelated to the passage but relevant to his application points at the end that hit me hardest. he said, "we've come to believe that we can't worship unless all our preverbal and preferential stars are aligned."

and then i was convicted. in that moment i knew my preferential stars were my kids. whether it be obeying, behaving, napping, being quiet, listening when i spoke, when they are none of those - even now and as i type and nyla cries - Jesus is calling me to worship despite all these seemingly out-of-my-control stars. when they aren't aligned but falling, and falling fast.

And then it was over. we got our two crazies and we went home, the sermon still swirling in my head.

Then a book i had ordered the week before came in the mail. It's called Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. this is what the first page said,  it was merely part of the intro by Annie Keary (1825-1879):

"I think i find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hinderances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one's work. Then one can feel that perhaps one's true work - one's work for God - consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one's day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted  to think, it is the most important part of the work day - the part one can best offer to God. After such a hinderance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it."

then mere hours later i read this in a book Curtis is reading that i just happened to pick up later in the day:

"How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still long enough to learn from them [...] the seed of God's word won't grow to fruitfulness without pruning for rest, quiet and calm." 
-from Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung

Since Micah was born i haven't been a reader like i was pre-children, but this week God knew not only that I needed to read, but also what i needed to read. Case-in-point, like these verses in Colossians during my (helter-skelter) bible study with my friend Katie yesterday morning (while surrounded by our four kids, all 2.5 and under - hence the helter-skelter part):

It said: "May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light [...] continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard..."
-Colossians 1: 11-12, 23

John Calvin said the human heart is "a thick forest of thorns," and i have found that to be true in me. over and over and over.

Elisabeth Elliot goes on to say:
"Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Savior and Helper delights in quieting us [...] The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances."

Amen and amen.

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure [...] The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance."
-Psalm 16:5-6

so maybe among the many thorns last week, a bud. i know it's not spring but it feels like somethings growing. and with growth, growing pains are inevitable, but definitely not a waste of time.

"It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted  to think, it is the most important part of the work day - the part one can best offer to God."

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