Saturday, December 22, 2012

Roses in December


“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.”      ― Madeleine L'Engle

Things need to change. I feel this about once every 3 months I find. But at least once a year I feel as if life needs a complete re-hall. I start to stumble, I start to lose focus, the world gets fuzzy and motivation is lost. It is at these cross-roads that I find I have several choices.

I can settle into the indifference - not really caring if the house gets clean or if my clothes match. It starts to feel like a lot of work just to get the kids a cup of milk when they ask, I get annoyed at noise, even happy noise. I stop calling friends to hang out because the prospect of keeping up a conversation exhausts me and I have very little positive things to say anyhow. I stop exercising because I have no energy to spare, I start over-eating because I get bored. Oh so bored. But with no motivation I find I can't fill the boredom and so I just sit.

Sometimes my response is anger. Frustration at myself for somehow not being able to live up to my own expectations. Guilt over feeling like I cannot keep my house together like so many other moms seem to do so effortlessly. My temper flares when the big kids leave the doors open again and the baby starts piling miscellaneous items into the toilet. I seek solitude at every opportunity, yearning for a reprieve from the constant badgering of life. Counting the minutes until my husband comes home just so I can go to the bathroom alone, even once!

Sometimes I find myself running away. This could mean leaving the house at every opportunity, walking around target, the mall, the park, the grocery store. Staying as far away from my prison of a house as I can. Because that is where reality lives. If I am home I am on the computer, getting away virtually, reading or watching TV. Ignoring real life as best I can by simply not looking at it.

You see, when I wander into these stages I am full aware of it. I am ashamed to admit that it is a grown-up temper tantrum of sorts. But it is also useful in a way. You see, God and I have always had something of an interesting relationship. I usually have an on-going conversation in my head with Him about life, choices, relationships and human reactions that goes on all day long. I am not always nice to him in my questions or statements and often times the conversation is more of an argument then anything else. He is not always gentle with me either. In fact He often is not. He pushes, prods, makes life frustrating, uncomfortable and sometimes downright scary as we argue. But in the end, He always wins, and I rest again in knowing he was right in the first place. And I am reminded again that if I had simply gone with that in the first place I could have avoided so much personal heartache. But then, there is joy in the journey. There is value in pain, anger and frustration.  Truly what I think it boils down to, is that all of the above mentioned situations are my own immature reactions to change.

Now don't get me wrong. I actually love change. It does not scare me. I relish it in fact. However, change takes lots of work. And I am very tired. All of the time.

But you see, I get stuck in the above mentioned categories. Sometimes jumping from one to the other, but never seeming to be able to get out of them. No matter how much I yell, plead or passionately ask of God to get me through...  I find that at the end of it all I usually make a cup of tea, sit and make a list. Lists are good things. Did you know lists are blessed by God? So are hot baths and the rearranging of furniture. Even if it is just one thing.

So I have been in an angry, confused and indifferent slump lately. And I am ready to do the work to get out of it. Things in life have gotten so routine, I have been filling my world with useless busywork and I will admit, I have absolutely nothing to show for it but exhaustion and a feeling of restlessness that results in boredom and snarkyness. The world is going faster then I can follow at the moment. We are already mere days until Christmas.

My Taylor has been saying, almost every night as I tuck her into bed: "I am so excited for Christmas Mama! Not just for presents, but for the 'real' meaning of Christmas." I nod, mumble a quick "me too baby" and hastily kiss heads goodnight so I can get to "my free time" faster.

But perhaps that is my whole problem lately. I have been stressed about presents. I feel like I have spent way to much money. My husband has had a lot of extra work lately and kids are out of school so I have been surrounded by only children pretty much most of the time. Children that talk. A LOT. At the same time. Without noticing if the other one stopped first. Asking questions. Getting mad at one another with a: "I was talking to Mama first!" And then I am attempting to keep their peace and the littlest one is taking advantage of a distracted mother and pulling all the groceries out of the refrigerator again and tossing them into the trashcan or leaving them in various places around the living room (do you find mustard under your couch cushions?). And I have to go somewhere or do something and no one has shoes on, and they don't want to wear jackets (is it bad to just let my kids deal with being cold when they refuse jackets? It is not REALLY below freezing outside, we have like 2-3 more degrees until it is ACTUALLY freezing, and the summer dress they chose to put on this morning will keep them warm enough...right?) and then the monkey has a poopy diaper and she is FAST and keeps hiding behind the couch when I try to change her and I can't. quite. fit. And I know it is normal to be overwhelmed as a mom of three. I know it is normal to get frustrated, to have no time, to be tired. But goodness I am tired!

And then at the end of the day, Taylor - my beloved child, reminds me that all that doesn't matter. Not really anyway. That she is excited for the REAL reason behind Christmas.

And I take a moment, and I realize...I did something right!

Oh it feels like a long time since I have done something right! I do things wrong A LOT. I am a clumsy person, bad at spelling, I can't seem to keep my house clean and  I lose my temper sometimes. But look! My baby girl is excited to celebrate a child born in a manger. A child that takes away all those bad things. That makes our hearts as pure as snow. A savior that thinks the homemade ornament is as pretty as I do. That comforts my baby girls when they are lonely or afraid. He calms my nerves when the world threatens to squeeze the joy out. He provides things like coffee and hot baths. He laughs when my babies play pretend, He sighs with me when they tell one another "I like you!" and is always there at the end of the day when I need a moment to close my eyes. I like that.

Things need to change. I have started to stumble, I am losing focus, the world is fuzzy and motivation is lost. It is at this cross-roads that I find I have several choices. I can continue taking things day by day. Looking with dread into what feels like an abyss of endless stressful days in front of me.

Or I can stop. I can finish my cup of coffee. I can make a list and I can say Thank you. No more. No less.

Sure, I have been going through some hard times lately. But that doesn't really matter. Just, Thank You.

Yes my house is a mess. Thank You.

Yes, I am not happy with the state of my body currently. Thank You.

Sure my kids are frustrating at times, or a lot of the time. Thank You.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

I am at peace. Whether my blood pressure shows it or not. I am at peace.

Because you see, there was a baby. A baby was born! He came for me, for my babies. He came to take away the stress, not cause it. He came so I can rest. He is the reason my Taylor is excited for Christmas. So...Thank you.

I feel in very many ways, my dear friend J.M. Barrie said it best:

“God gave us memory, so that we might always have roses in December.” 
So let us remember...

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