Written by Audrey Beth Roland.
When I was in about the eighth grade, I remember telling an adult in our church how tired I felt between school requirements, sports practices after school and responsibilities at home. I told him (with all the lighthearted innocence of one who has no clue about life) that I didn’t think I could ever catch up on sleep, because I just had to get up early the next morning, too. And the next after that. As I look back at that conversation and remember my mood at the time, I realize I couldn’t have been that tired or I wouldn’t have been so happy about having the discussion.
I also recall about four years ago when I was sharing with my husband my reaction to some other young wives and moms despairing over how much they had to do with their one child and taking care of their home and how they didn’t think they could handle any more children because of it. I remember musing out loud to him that I didn’t understand it, because we had three children, and I really felt capable of handling all those responsibilities (homeschooling the oldest, keeping all three alive, maintaining a clean home, etc.). Disclaimer: I’m not at all saying that I fulfilled perfectly my responsibilities all the time, but it was a general observation.
Well, have you ever heard the expression “famous last words?” Because those were my famous last words! Fast forward a few more years to having five children with one more on the way, homeschooling three of them, still providing the same cooking and housekeeping skills, and you have one very tired momma!
I am a firm believer in keeping life simple…not adding too many things to our schedule, not spending my whole day chauffeuring, not bringing an abundance of things into our home. I tend towards minimalism (although believe me, having five kids does help me stay balanced), and our army lifestyle lends itself to that same mindset.
I think my minimalistic leanings have their roots in a long-standing tendency toward OCD (I use the term loosely and not in any sort of serious medical diagnosis). Or perhaps I should say in a long-standing tendency toward wanting to be in control?!
God has graciously shown me (largely through my husband’s gentle prodding at times and also my children’s exuberant “childrening” at many times) various ways I can and need to give up control of certain situations. However, in our home lives, there are still many things we are seemingly in control of; and as parents, it’s God’s design for us to be the leaders in our home. It’s wise for us to set up boundaries and practices that will help our family be successful in every area we can—school, social interaction, ministry, spiritual growth…the list goes on.
The last few months have been a definite challenge for me though, because I’m tired. I don’t really remember a time in my life when I’ve felt so tired and so busy in quite this way. In a way that leaves me going to bed night after night with not everything finished that I needed to accomplish. My list-crossing-off, control-oriented self just can’t be happy in this scenario. I don’t even have time for “ME” time (a.k.a. children’s nap time) that I guarded so jealously. And I can’t see the end in sight at this point.
I’ve learned some things about myself… I’m just as selfish as ever. I still hang on to my desire to be in control. And you know what? I cannot just pull myself up by the boot straps and get this mountain climbed. It won’t work. There are too many things outside of my control—so obviously outside of my control that it’s laughable to think that I might even try.
God has made me capable of handling what He has given me. (I realize even as I write this, that everyone’s life has its own ups and downs…its own challenges. You may be reading this thinking how much easier I have it than you, and you may be right! I’m sharing my own experience, but I think the conclusion can be universally applied, no matter what the individual situation is.)
BUT God hasn’t made me capable of handling by myself what He’s given me. Of course I can stumble along and make mistakes in my own strength, but I need God to give me a victorious path of trudging along through the nitty and gritty of life that may not end for years. I need to read my Bible more, pray more, draw closer to God and trust the Holy Spirit to give me patience with my kids and reverence for my husband. Only He can do that. It seems overwhelming, but some verses that lift the weight and give promise for the future are Matthew 11:29-30:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
It seems counterintuitive to say that taking a yoke gives rest, but it’s Jesus’s yoke. And that’s why I referred to this as a promise: because in my thinking, a yoke is not easy…a burden is not light. But Jesus’s is. And He wants mine to be as well. He invites me to take His easy yoke, His light burden. He invites me to learn of Him. He is meek and lowly in heart. I pray God will help me be meek and lowly in heart… so that I don’t have to be in control but can instead trust Him. Only then, will I find the rest I need, because I know that my physical rest is directly related to my spiritual rest.…”Ye shall find rest unto your souls.
This article was published in the Fall 2017 edition of The Beautiful Spirit. To contact Audrey Beth, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook.