This post has been on my heart to write for a very long time. I've not completely felt it is the proper time to write it, but mostly I have put it off because I've not been sure how to approach it without sounding prideful. The best I can offer is just to say that in no way is it coming from a prideful place. I have not arrived; and in no way, shape, form, or fashion do I believe myself to have "gotten it." I am only sharing because I have felt like I should, but also because I am so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to view life this way as I feel like it is truly what helps me to survive the craziness that is my life :)
I often get asked by people "how" I do "it." Whatever "it" is. The more I've thought about that question over the years, the more I've realized it really comes down to submission and perspective.
The way I see it, we are created to glorify God. In whatever station of life we find ourselves in. My place in life is that of a wife and of a mother. These are the primary vehicles that God uses to bring about sanctification in my life. I think a lot of people's frustration in life comes from an internal struggle they've got going on in regards to what their life currently looks like. Whether it's a man that feels like he deserves more and is under-valued and under-appreciated, or whether it's a woman that is frustrated because she wants to do more with her life than just wipe bottoms and noses all day long.
The truth is that you are where you are in life for a reason. Now, you may be smack in the middle of where God wants you to be and what His plan is for you, or you may be suffering the consequences of poor decisions; but in both situations, if you are a believer, you can trust that the Lord has promised to be with you and work all things out for your good. You either believe that or you don't. And you can then choose to see God's hand in your situation and trust that He is working.
So for me, this comes down to my viewing my life and the daily processes of it (chores, homeschooling, mothering little ones, etc.) as my service to God. That sounds quite dry and stuffy, but I believe there is genuine joy and peace that can be found when one is living his or her life according to God's will. Even when His will may not currently look like what you'd prefer. In nutshell, when I am frustrated, or angry, or overwhelmed I choose to see it as what God is using at that very moment to fashion me more fully into the image of Jesus. It really does make things easier. Making peace with your life comes down to being willing to submit to what God is calling you to and choosing to be content with where He has you. I've just always been able to see the difficulties and frustrations in my life not as injustices done "to" me, but as God, in His mercy, using the difficult things to peel away selfishness.
Easier said than done. I know.
This year has been hard. I thrive on structure and routine. Grace, so far, apparently does not. So for the past 11 months every. single. day. has been a fly by the seat of your pants kind of day, and that is very, very hard for me. I have often joked that naptime is priority #1 around here, but when you have a baby that absolutely resists settling into a predictable naptime, that causes an internal crisis. So I've had a choice. Every day. I can get frustrated and angry (and many days I do!) or I can choose to see it as the Lord teaching me things. One, that I am not in control, and that* that* really is okay. That I need to be nice, even when my day doesn't go as I'd like it to. (And I think I may have had five of those "good days" in the past year!) That I can trust Him with my kids education (since I firmly believe we are supposed to be homeschooling) even when we're having a not quite ideal year. And maybe, that I shouldn't joke that naps are priority #1 when He should be :)
I've always had babies that napped well. Even though I've never had particularly good night sleepers, I've been okay with that as they've been excellent nappers. Over the years I've come to depend on naps. So maybe that's been the problem. Maybe that's why this year I'm getting to learn that it is God that strengthens and equips me and not my "quiet time." Grace has been a "you better nurse me to sleep and make sure I'm totally out of it before you lay me down" kind of baby. Which I'm not used to. We've trained our babies to lay down at a certain time, even fully awake, and be able to go to sleep easily without crying. It is highly irritating to lay a baby down time after time after time and have her repeatedly wake back up and cry. So for the past year, I've had literally hundreds of opportunities to practice patience, joy in the midst of thwarted plans, kindness when tired, gentleness when I'm ready for "me" time, and self control when I'm ready to lose it.
What all this has looked like for me recently is that every single time over the past months when I've gone to lay Grace down and she's woke up AGAIN I've had a choice; get frustrated and question God as to why He can't just make her sleep already (after all, I have all these other children that He's given me that I need to take care of) or I can view it through the lens of Him allowing her to be that way and trust that He is using that to get rid of more junk in me. Did he make her that way? I don't know. I don't think so. But I believe that He's using the difficult parts of my life to carve away (and it does feel like carving) more selfishness from me. And that perspective makes all the difference. It's all about submission to what He wants to do in me. I can fight it and be miserable and question His goodness, or I can trust Him. A long time ago I told God I would follow Him. He could have me and that I wanted Him to help me live my life worthy of Him. And that means I have to be willing to let Him work in me.
Grace is finally settling down. She has learned for the most part to fall asleep on her own, and she is beginning to settle into a routine-ish naptime. There's still a window there, between 10:30 and 1, and I never know when she'll suddenly start rubbing her eyes and I'll have to announce, "Okay, everybody eat your lunch NOW!! Grace is ready for her nap!" But it's becoming a little more predictable. Finally.
But God must have started phase 2. What I'm beginning to see is the intense phase. I have a title for it. It's called Learning to Live With A Hormonal Adolescent That Is Smart Enough To Point Out To You That You Are Guilty of the Same Things You Tell Her Not To Do. Alternately titled Getting Rid of Hypocrisy In Your Life. You think I'm joking. I'm not. Pray for me. Really hard. My Mom and I approached every day as a battle and it is a struggle for me to not replicate this between Anna and myself. This is the part where I choose to believe what God told me early on that my mothering is covered in His grace. (Which was a big enough deal for me to title my blog after.) But still. Pray for me.
I'm not perfect in walking out this perspective. I spent a good bit of time questioning Him early on. After all, this is the first year I've not had a day "off" every week. Couldn't He have at least given me an easy baby when I'm already getting used to being with my kids all day, every day? Doesn't He see that I've allowed Him to give us the children He desires and that I've sacrificed my life to homeschool them? Doesn't He remember that I didn't grow up with a good model of how to really love my children and every day is a battle for me? Doesn't He remember that He gave me this introvert personality, desperately in need of alone time and a quiet enviornment? Doesn't He see?
Of course He sees. I know that. He reminds me that He made my love language quality time and He has shown up every single second of every single day when I've looked for Him. Every. Single. Time. He has let me know that He is always, always with me. He's taught me how to feel His presence and hear His voice. I can trust Him because I know He's there. And that He loves me, and that He only has good plans and desires for me. That He is the giver of GOOD gifts.
This is not all cupcakes and roses. It's hard and it's not usually fun. For sure there is a peace in it, but it's not always pleasant. Again, it comes back to submission and perspective. All those days when I was questioning why He couldn't just make her sleep already, when I would start grumbling and complaining (at Him!) you know what He told me? Philippians 2:12-15.
"...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe."
It felt just like when I cut off my children when they're arguing. He wouldn't even let me talk :) Here I am, lying in bed, having been woken out of deep sleep by a growing wail coming from the closet. "God, no. Please. Just make her go back to sleep. I'm so tired. Why can't you just make her sleep well. I need you to....." And just like that, those verses would pop into my head. Repeatedly. Ugh :)
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ~Galatians 2:20
Crucifixion. Not pleasant. But necessary if we are to follow Christ. I want Him. He died for me. The least I can do for Him is to allow Him to work in me by using a fussy baby or a hormonal daughter. The least. I owe Him my life. And I love Him. Because He loved me.
That about sums it up.