Friday, August 21, 2015

...of being still

Quinn has been back at work for a month. The first week I started out "well". By that I mean that I did a lot with the kids and the kitchen was mostly clean, the laundry was mostly taken care of and I cooked most dinners. As the weeks have gone on, though, it has become glaringly apparent that, because I have been working from my own strength, I have been slowly depleted and brought to the bottom of my barrel.

Today was hard. Yesterday was Chic-fil-A and mowing the lawn with a hand mower and going to bed with a sinus headache. This morning was a play date with a close friend, whom I love. But our boys also reeeeealllly love each other and when they get together we end up spending most of the morning yelling corrections at them in the other room or upstairs at the top of our lungs and then trying desperately to return to some encouraging and affirming conversation with each other about what God is teaching us. It's filling and draining at the same time - if that's possible.

Anyway, all of those things added up to my body kind of lashing out at me. For the sake of stress and weight gain and an accurate visit with the rheumatologist last week, I have abandoned my Auto Immune Protocol diet completely. I think it was helping, but it was also causing stress which didn't quite cancel out the diet, but sure made me a hot mess a lot of the time. So in anticipation of lab work and x-rays at the doctor, I threw almost all of the diet completely out of the window. And let me tell you I am NOT. GOOD. It took a little while, but now, after consuming a #1 with no pickles and a Dr. Pepper at my very friendly neighborhood Chic-fil-a, I could easily lay in bed all the next day overcome with pain from approximately seven joints in my body and a brain fog and depression that could lay up the happiest of people.

And then there's the screaming. My kids are screamers. Not sure where I went wrong, but their frustration comes out as screaming. The baby just screams. The big kids usually scream each others' names. But someone always seems to  be screaming. I always seem to be mediating negotiations over magnet tiles and explaining over tears that just because someone pretended to do something like rip your dress does not mean that it actually happened and you don't need to act as if it did.

Oh, and then the guilt. To get through the pain, the depression, the screaming and fighting, I have been retreating to my bed and often calling up my favorite babysitter: Netflix. After about 1.5 hours of just laying there trying to pray or distract myself while my kids' brains are filled with sometimes not the most educational of television shows, the guilt wins out. I pull myself up by my boot straps and we suffer together through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening until Daddy comes home and none of us is a very good welcoming committee.

Today, when I got to guilt part of the cycle, I lost it. I left the kids with their sitter, took my yoga mat outside, lay down in the sun, let the bugs crawl all over me, and I cried. I could see Abram and Selah at the kitchen table eating oranges and watching "Angelina Ballerina" and not even noticing that I was gone. I talked to God and asked a lot of questions. Why hadn't he just healed me? What am I supposed to do? Start taking $35,000 a year medication or restart literally the strictest diet known to man? Why did it all matter? How was I supposed to get through all of this without losing it and running away or locking myself in a closet and never coming out or throwing all the toys away (which actually probably wouldn't be so very bad...)?

Then, I felt like he told me to stop talking. I was reminded of His words "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10) and "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." (Ex. 14:14) And, right then, there was breeze that hit me that hadn't been there before. I could hear the birds and the wind and I saw the millions of tiny ants in the grass going crazy. I needed my heart to be calm and quiet in the moment for His Spirit to help me to realize that it wasn't just that moment. That was exactly how I had been (and always have been) functioning. Constantly moving and going and asking and talking and figuring and planning and plotting and visiting and cooking and writing and sewing and shopping and driving and making lists and even really good, Godly things like praying and reading and journaling. But I have a very, very hard time being still and silent. He wants me to read, so that when I am quiet, the Spirit can bring up those words in the right moment and speak exactly what I need to hear. Because those words are living and active! Sometimes it's hard to know what to read in the Bible on any given day. I always want what I read to apply directly to my life that day. But when I just spend everyday reading His Word, wherever I may be and then allowing time to pray and then just be quiet and listen, He can bring up exactly the right truth or command or promise for my day or moment.

I am wearing myself out by trying to be strong. But I know that the truth He has given me to cling to specifically during this joint aching, toddler screaming, Netflix-guilt stage of my life is: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9) I think I may have already even quoted that specific verse in one of my five blog posts of 2015, but it has got to be my anthem this year - and forever. But if I only ever write it or read it and I never just listen to it, then I will never get it. And so the command and promise that came to my mind today is one that, ironically, is technically a response to being worried and anxious about food! "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." (Matt 6:33)

After this quiet moment with God in the sunny yard, I came inside and the rest of the afternoon I was in awe at the gentleness and patience that I had with the kids. This is a not bragging on myself. I do not normally have that. I was a high school teacher. I think the thing I've said most in my life is "Are you kidding me?!" But this afternoon was calmer and quieter and gentler. There was still pain and there was still screaming, but there was also a tangible sense of God's grace and power resting on me through those things that just made me more in awe of how true and good and living His Word really is. And how worthy He is to be sought through that Word and truly listened to every. single. day.

Now for your viewing pleasure: a glimpse at a normalish afternoon in our house. I knew I was recording and Selah was (obviously) at least somewhat aware of the camera, but it is mostly unadulterated Smith family banality. And I may have been a little more calm that afternoon due to that lovely little cup of coffee I was enjoying.

Khallas (Enough).