Letting God Take Control
- Monday, July 16, 2007
Sit down. Take a deep breath. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever other caffeinated beverage you enjoy drinking. You're going to feel better after reading this article--if not from the information you glean, certainly from the charge you'll get from the caffeine! You know, homeschooling and childrearing is hard work. Admit it! It's not a sign of weakness or discontentment to admit you're struggling today. A good indicator of a hard worker is someone who needs rest. It's a sign of being real--a sign of being human.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, or you may be discouraged because of physical limitations and how little you seem to be accomplishing. Whatever your case may be, I'd like to share with you some lessons I learned as a result of a difficult time I went through recently that I hope will give you a new perspective on the challenges you're facing.
The last eighteen months have been hard. I'm tired. And I'm tired of feeling tired. Know what I mean? In September of 2005, we found out we were pregnant with baby number five. At the time, that didn't sound too difficult. We already had four active kids, so what was one more? And even though I knew when the baby arrived it would be a time of little sleep and more work, the baby was nine long months away. What I didn't anticipate was the nine months of difficult pregnancy--nine very, very long months. Sickness, tiredness, sinus infections, the flu, gestational diabetes, doctor appointments, swollen feet, sore back and all the other joys of pregnancy took me by storm. Homeschooling was a chore, church activities were exhausting, sporting events took an extra measure of effort, and the kids watched more videos than I would ever have preferred.
It was humbling for me. I pride myself on being organized and efficient. I work hard to maintain disciplined children and a clean home. I look forward to tutoring and grading and all the other work that comes with homeschooling. I love to cook and entertain people. At around month eight of this pregnancy I realized I wasn't doing a good job at anything other than sleeping (and even that was interrupted three times a night for bathroom breaks). In tears I moaned to my husband that I knew I was doing a lousy job of running the household. He gave me a kind answer and tried to encourage me, but we all know when we're not doing what we should be, and it doesn't feel good. I started to feel like this wouldn't get better--and I knew I couldn't cut it.
When our newest arrival was two months old, I started to realize something very important. I needed to cut myself some slack! That person I was when I was pregnant was not the real me. With great joy I can tell you that I'm feeling great and my home management skills are back in full swing. More important, however, is the fact that the Lord has worked on me through this last year and a half, and I'm not the same person I was before I was pregnant. My heart attitude was in great need of change, and I'm eager to share some important thoughts with you. I believe that if we look at our trials and difficulties from the right viewpoint, we will begin to see the many lessons God has for us. The lessons each of us may learn in our own individual times of difficulty will be as varied as the trials themselves. Here are a few of the things God taught me.
I learned compassion. When you're feeling good and moving along smoothly it is so easy to be critical of those who are struggling. Scripture tells us that we go through some trials simply so we can be an encouragement to anyone else who is having a hard time. I don't know about you, but I have never liked that teaching. I would like to think that I could soften toward other people without having to be reminded of my own frailties, but unfortunately, that pride thing sneaks back in so easily. Mothers who would say they just couldn't get out of bed because of morning sickness made me roll my eyes. I would shake my head in disapproval when someone would say they left videos on all day just so they wouldn't be bothered when they felt so lousy. You can be sure that I have learned the value of being able to throw up without four children standing in the bathroom trying to make me feel better! I understand the tremendous guilt when you wake up in the morning, sit up on the side of your bed, say good morning to your children, and slowly lay back down. I will pray for each and every mother who is pregnant, sick or hurting in a way I wouldn't have done a year ago. Yes, I learned compassion.
I learned the value of sitting still. I can drive my husband, friends and family crazy with my tendency to always be doing something "productive." If we're watching a movie, then I must be folding or ironing laundry. If I finish today's to-do list, then I should start on tomorrow's list so I can get ahead. If I have a friend come over it seems logical to clean a bathroom while we visit so I can kill two birds with one stone. (I'm ashamed to admit I actually did this one time.) I over-commit to outside activities in order to please those around me and prove that I can do it all. When I was lying in bed for most of the day just trying to smile at the kids as they walked in, I made an interesting discovery. All of my children, but especially the two and four year olds, were happy! They were so excited that they could curl up next to me and I wasn't in a hurry to go somewhere, do something, or call someone. I read more books and listened to more stories than I had in years. We sang songs, played "This Little Piggy" way too many times, and took naps together. At a time when I thought I was letting my children down, they were pleased to be able to find me at any time of the day.
I learned to let other people help. Ugh. I hate this lesson. I like to be the one who's helping. It's that pride thing again. If I help someone then they "owe" me. Learning to ask and receive help, especially when I knew there was no way for me to repay it, was so humbling. Ladies from our church brought meals, my mom did my laundry and ironing, I had a housekeeper come and clean, and my poor husband had to fix dinner almost every night. The guilt piled up to the point that I wanted to sit and cry. I'm sure the Lord received my prayers with a small smile, knowing that when I set my pride aside I would accept help with an attitude of gratefulness instead of feeling like I owed everyone. At that point the people who were giving so generously to me were able to enjoy their blessing from the Lord, and I was able to quit feeling sorry for myself and pray for the opportunity to help someone else down the road.
I learned that I'm not in control--no matter how hard I try. Wow. You'd think I'd have learned that lesson a long time ago. Let's face it. We all try to hold on to the reins. I thought I had this pregnancy and delivery thing down to a science. What I learned was that my plans are just that--mine. God's plan will not be swayed by me no matter how hard I try. This delivery was my first c-section and I was very disappointed. I sat in my doctor's office with tears running down my face, certain that she was wrong in her diagnosis of the problems of delivering this baby. There could have been serious complications had I not followed the advice of my doctor. Learning that God has placed people like doctors in our lives to protect us was vital for me. Your problem may not be a tough delivery, but I'm sure that at least one time this week your plans were turned upside down by something unexpected. It could be as simple as a washer breaking down or as big as a medical emergency. Whatever it was, you found yourself sputtering and spinning in a circle, trying to figure out who took the reins out of your hands and ran the horse in another direction. Proverbs 16:9 tells us that plans are in the hearts of men, but the Lord determines our steps. I had to realize that God knows where I'm going, and although His plan may not be easy, it is divine and intended for my good.
I learned how much my children were capable of. The fruit of years of training made this time in my life so much easier. My older boys kept the house running smoothly and took care of the younger kids when I couldn't. Thinking of this still chokes me up. I don't want to take advantage of my kids or make them grow up too fast, but seeing their maturity manifest in learning to step up to the plate when it was necessary was so rewarding. As I started to feel better and take back more of the responsibility, I also enjoyed the genuine gratefulness from my family. They had a taste of everything it takes to keep our home running, and we all learned it works a whole lot better when we are a compete team.
Finally, I learned that the process of "schooling" is much more involved than just paper and pencils. I needed to sit back and realize that schooling in book subjects is only a small part of rearing my children. Running the house like a well-run machine is not what it takes to be successful. Life provides the best lessons, and if we stand in the way of those lessons with too much "business," then we miss so much. The kids got to see that my husband and I were just as excited for baby number five as we were about each of the others. When I look back at the conversations I had with my kids, I am excited that they grasped the value of home and family, as well as the importance of my boys being sympathetic to their own wives someday. My daughter learned that although it can be hard, motherhood is worth all of the pain. You can't learn that in a book. Through this time we have grown so much closer as a family. You can't find that in any book, either.
I don't know where you are or what you're going through. There are so many different struggles we can face. Illness, depression, difficult relationships, loneliness, and more can all challenge us. It doesn't matter what the situation: God loves you. He knows your weaknesses and strengths. If you truly want to serve Him and you're going through a tough time, He will provide the grace you need to get through it. He becomes the strength that you don't have. He provides compassion and tenderness that you didn't think were available. He will work in and through you in a way He couldn't when you were racing around being Superwoman. Let God take control, work hard at what you are called to do, and understand that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Tori is proud to be married to Major J Rollins who is currently serving with the Army in AfghanistanJ and Tori have five children and have homeschooled from the beginning.Tori enjoys music, playing the piano, scrapbooking and a good cup of coffee while visiting with a friend.
This article was originally published in the May/June '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine, a national publication dedicated to encouraging and equipping Christian homeschoolers. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com
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