It’s the middle of the night, as usual, and I am pondering where I am on this “journey to beautiful.” Life in the last year has been such a whirlwind of work, school, church, and family crises that somewhere along the way I’ve become lost in the madness of it all. My 12 year-old asked me the other day if I was still writing my “book.” I had to smile. Kids have such confidence in the abilities of their parents.
I love to write. I’m an English teacher. It’s what we do. It is how I breathe in and out. And normally, it is how I process. But somewhere along the way in the last year or so, I have become a little disillusioned with life not going according to plan. At some point, when I realized I couldn’t change how things were going, I stopped trying, changed gears, and switched over to survival mode.
In survival mode, you just go with the flow and do whatever it takes to keep life from careening off the road and having a head-on collision with whatever happens to be in the way.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Merely surviving is just trying to make it through one day in hopes that the next will be a little better.
It’s washing a load off the top of the ever-growing mountain of laundry so it doesn’t get so tall it topples over into the hallway where nobody will be able to walk around it.
It’s hand-washing three bowls and spoons out of the pile in the sink so your kids can have cereal for breakfast.
It’s telling everyone to give you what they want to wear tomorrow so you can wash it tonight, dry it in the morning, and throw it on before everyone walks out the door.
It’s stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work and picking up the fifth rotisserie chicken the family has had this month and trying to remember if you already have a bag of frozen green beans or if you should buy one.
It’s rummaging through the fridge or cabinet to try to find something for lunch boxes so the kids don’t have just a sandwich, because you didn’t have time (or money) to grocery shop this weekend and re-stock snacks. Or… it’s stopping at the gas-station and picking up the only Lunchable they have because you have nothing to give the kids for lunch at all.
It’s pouring cereal for supper because you are dead tired and still haven’t shopped, feeling a little guilty about it, but knowing that your family won’t die of malnutrition if they occasionally have cereal for supper.
It’s picking up the shirt you’ve worn twice this week and wearing it again because it doesn’t stink and still looks relatively clean; and who’ll know, since you have to wear the same exact shirt to work everyday anyway? (Gotta love uniforms.)
It’s barely noticing your husband as he walks through the door because you haven’t had time to tend to your marriage.
It’s falling asleep grading papers, and waking up half-way through the night, realizing the kids’ lights are all still on because they waited for you to come tuck them in, and you never did. It’s a silent prayer over each one as you turn out the light, and tears on your pillow, because that breaks your heart.
It’s getting the report card with a C on it from your tearful A/B child, and learning there was an assignment you didn’t know about because, in the middle of the chaos, you forgot to read the folder. It’s realizing your kids are suffering from your lack of control over life’s circumstances.
It’s standing in the middle of your house on a Saturday, not even knowing where to start because the house is so out of control – and going shopping instead.
It’s shutting things out, looking straight ahead through a tunnel, and pretending not to see the clutter all around because you have kids to feed, papers to grade, uniforms to wash, and a fifth-grader with a science project due.
It’s tucking in a child while your eyes fight to stay open, and saying no when they ask you to read to them, because your body just won’t cooperate tonight.
It’s waking up late, knowing your alarm clock went off, and not remembering hearing it or hitting snooze four times.
It’s flipping over your verse-a-day calendar and reading a verse so that, in between the madness, you don’t forget God. It’s falling into bed exhausted at midnight or thereabouts, remembering you haven’t “really” prayed in eons, whispering a quick prayer of protection for your family, and falling asleep in the middle of it.
It’s wondering how long you can keep this up, but not having time to finish the thought.
It’s having life balanced so precariously that, if one thing goes wrong, everything is going to fall down around you like a house of cards. It’s knowing that someday, that will likely happen.
It’s begging God, in a brief moment of clarity, to help you to order your days so that He is first and everything else can fall into its proper place. It’s managing to do that for awhile and then going back to life as usual. It’s doing this again. And again. And again.
It’s being thankful that your salvation doesn’t depend on your sanity or your ability to hold it all together. It’s knowing that, in the midst of the chaos, God is still there, holding you up, providing for your needs, and caring for your children in a way that you can’t. It’s trusting Him that, although you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s there because He says it is.
In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world. John 16:33
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.” Psalm 18:32-36
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7