Friday, April 17, 2009

Surprised By Grace (again)

Everyone has those low times in life, when you're unhappy or overwhelmed or disappointed or just can't quite put your finger on it. It always takes me by surprise when it happens to me. And since I was just writing my thankfulness list I feel like a real bum for being bummed. There are a lot of other people that have it worse than me for sure. But that doesn't change the way it feels. So, please, insert your "stuff" as you read.

I am fried, spent, fed up. I am fighting with a toddler and ... I'm losing. Screaming, fits at home, fits in public, failure to have a normal sleep schedule, choosiness in diaper selection, refusal to buckle into her car seat, refusing to eat with utensils are the normal of my days these days.

I feel like I never get time away and rarely get help from my husband who has been gone every night this week (at least the kind of help I'm looking for). After admitting how bad things were, I got some advice from a friend and Godly woman and it hurt. Do you think I haven't tried that? I've tried everything.

It's just hard. It's not easy to admit when your almost 2 year old gets the best of you most days.

All of a sudden I found myself overcome with frustration and anger. I went for a whole night without saying a word to Mike. I thought ugly thoughts.

That very night, when I felt like I couldn't do another sleepless night or battle-filled day, Maren slept all night. I never realized what a huge difference that makes in her mood - and mine!

Still, I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. I thought just get the kids off to school, put the little girls in front of Sesame Street and go back to bed. Then I didn't feel like cleaning up, but I did. I ate breakfast. I read some Psalms over my cereal even though I didn't want to.

This is some of what I read:

Psalm 91:1-4

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God , in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will ocver you with his feathers,
and under his wigs you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 92:1-5

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love int he morning
and your faithfulness at night
to the music of the ten-stringer lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of you hands.
How great are your works, O Lord,
how profound your thoughts!

I didn't feel like taking a walk and battling Maren in the stroller, but I got my shoes on anyway.

I realized that while just keeping on with my daily activities I was receiving God's grace. Did I deserve anything good? No way! My prayers amounted to "Good grief Lord I can't take much more of this!" And out of his mercy, he helped me.

Our walk was good, both girls stayed in the stroller and I jogged. It was the first sunny and warm day of spring. I thought a lot about the words from the Psalms: trusting God, our dwelling place, giving thanks to the Lord. It hit me that I was not putting the Lord first in either battle: the one dealing with Maren OR the one trying to find joy. I was stumbling through in darkness. I can't find joy, peace or hope within myself or from any other source. That only comes from Christ.

We stopped at Mike's office so I could apologize for being a jerk. By the time we got home, I felt relief and peace.

As I headed off on a last minute Girl Scout mission (while my "unsupportive" husband took Maren with him on some errands) , I heard the song "Mighty to Save" on the radio. It's funny because I very rarely listen to Christian radio (Shhh - don't tell my Dad!). It gave me goosebumps. I love that song but I'm not sure I'm living like I believe it.

This has happened to me before when God works mightily in my heart and life and it leaves me shocked and speechless. In all honesty, I'm embarrassed to admit that at times I don't believe God can help me. Or maybe that he wouldn't want to. Those are lies of the deceiver.

"Under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield..."

I know there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that claim these truths: He is there for us, loves and cares deeply for us. Why am I surprised when He does it?

Psalm 107:10-16
Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
for they had rebelled against the words of God
and despised the counsel of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
he brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for me,
for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.


Steph VG said...

Michelle, I do this all. the. time. Not in battles with a 2yo (honestly, we're still just hoping for a chance to DO battle with a 2yo), but in what seems like everything else. Why ARE we so quick to assume that God can't or won't do the things He says He will? Why are we so quick to forget that He sent His Son to die so that He COULD act on our behalf, especially in our hearts? I can't remember who originally said it, but Matt (my husband) is always saying that God is more interested in our spiritual growth than we are. I'm amazed at my slow, unbelieving heart.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder of the Lord's "unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for me."

Laura said...

Wow. Thanks for being a transparent person. I too battle with an almost 2 yo, right now he doesn't sleep through the night, can climb out of ANY crib setup, bangs his head on the floor, opens the fridge and breaks eggs and makes a mess of the food (with in about 35 seconds). I can no longer take a shower unless I KNOW he is out or Bryan is home. All that to say - parenting sucks and their aren't answers (I don't care what people say to "try".) to many of our children's willful defiance. But like you I realize that I try to be a super-mom on my own, and the more I try the more I fail. The more I spank, yell, or just go into zombie mode. So often what makes the difference is not how well Jonas is doing, but how well I'm handling myself.
I have such a hard time remembering that God is using this little person to mold me as much if not more than he is using me to mold this little person....why is it that the "good" type of growth always seems so hard.
Thanks again for you honesty.