When You Think it’s About Trying Just a Little Harder
You know those days?
When the dirty laundry is scattered all around the floor. And someone knocked the clean laundry off the couch so who knows what is what anymore? And the youngest doesn’t have clean underwear. And the oldest can’t find her favorite shirt. Or any shirt for that matter.
The dishes are piled up, there are no clean sippy cups, and you roll over in bed, determined to start the day with a good attitude, only to discover moldy, shriveled up grapes hiding behind a picture frame. Not that this very specific example happened in my house. Yesterday.
The kids have had too many sweets, are bouncing off the walls, and off each other.
You’re inexplicably missing three items from the grocery store – even though you know you checked the list twice before checking out. And now your plans for dinner are ruined.
The kids are fighting, and then admonishing you for not using your kind voice, and surely, surely you’re going to mess these little people up for life.
You have 40lbs of baby and not-so-baby weight to lose. But you grab another six cookies anyway.
Because why not? Because you feel like you can’t do anything right. You can’t find one area of your life that is currently under control. And if you do glimpse that illusion of mastery, every other area just falls further apart.
You look around and pronounce yourself a failure because my God, you should be able to do better than this.
I should be able to better than this.
I like to fix things.
I’m pretty good at it too.
But I’ve never been able to fix the chaos of motherhood.
Oh, there have been seasons (by that I mean an occasional two days in a row). The house is clean, I’m taking lots of deep breaths before opening my mouth, the kids are bursting forth with glorious attitudes and cuteness to boot. Dinner is on the table by six, the kids have been read to throughout the day, eaten fruit for snacks, gotten outside, and taken proper naps. I’ve had time to read a chapter of fiction, pray a bit, and send my husband an encouraging text.
And I rejoice in the systems. “See,” I tell myself. “If I just work hard enough, make enough lists, stay organized enough, always have a good attitude, never fail in any way, then I can do this. Perfection is possible.”
Of course I know this isn’t actually true and I’m willing to admit that I’ll occasionally fail or the system might get rattled a bit by a sickness. But all in all, I struggle not to believe that I and my systems can save us all.
And if there is weakness. If there is failure. Then it’s all mine and my system’s fault.
And I have fought this battle of me and my systems more than I ever care to admit. It started before motherhood began and it will likely last long past the stage of hidden, moldy, shriveled grapes. This battle of control. Of worth. Of trying to do it all on my own. Motherhood has just magnified it. Approximately 136,298 fold.
In her book Bittersweet, Niequist says a friend once told her that, “…God will keep sending that same kind of person or same kind of situation into your life over and over until you choose to do the work of understanding it and growing past it.”
Well, this is it folks. I like control and when it’s in my grasp I rejoice in myself and when it’s falling down all around me, I blame myself.
And I can devise plans and checklists and systems to root out this pride. Or I can lay it all down at the foot at the cross. Again and again and again until He has rooted it out of me.
And honestly, I don’t know that I ever will fully get it. This pride, this control, this fix-it-ness is ingrained deep, an addiction weaved into the fabric of my soul. I lay it down and and pick it up again. But with each surrender, I tend to pick up less. I let his kingdom take hold inside of me just a bit more. He transforms me. Slowly, painstakingly, exhaustingly, beautifully.
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