I’ve been particularly absent from the blog lately. I could say I’ve been busy with the book and general life stuff, which I have, but actually it’s been a matter of pride. My blogging is usually a time of solitude with Jesus, and there is no good excuse for short-changing time with Him and time to process life through His Word. See, things have been rough. Some of my children have not been adapting very well to our new school routine and my embarrassment at the fact has kept me from publicly writing about it. My shame has inhibited me from processing it through Jesus, which doesn’t alleviate the humiliation, but only perpetuates it. So, here I am, a little apprehensive about fingering the keyboard and revealing a deep heart issue. I genuinely don’t know what truth or big idea Jesus will conclude this post with but I know I will need to hear it. Thanks for joining me in this humbling process.
The worst day was a Monday a few weeks ago. We had already been in school for half a week (which went wonderfully, by the way) but it was the starting day for public school. One of my children (I’m not going to mention names…because it gets ugly) was throwing a massive fit about having to go to school. Everything was wrong. Clothes were wrong, socks were wrong, shoes were wrong, breakfast was wrong. I tried to help, but the anthem was, “You won’t even help me…You won’t even listen to me.” I broke. My temper flared and I was undone. After the socks and shoes I had graciously put on, and I had patiently tied, had been kicked off for the second time, my self-restraint was gone. Once everyone else was ready and it was time to go, the shoeless child was forced into the car, disheveled hair and all. After kicking and screaming the entire drive, when we arrived at school, the walk into the building was dramatic, laboring, and exhausting. When we made it to the office, I struggled to pry one child off while keeping another from escaping and running back into the parking lot. I was mortified. The walk down the hallway to the classrooms was coupled with mini-body slams against the wall in an effort to stop any progress towards the room. I smiled the whole time, as if to say, “No one else look, all is fine here! heh…heh…” Finally a school staff member removed the child suction-cupped to my leg and I made a run for it.
On the way home, I called Paul, tears rolling down my face. I was sad for my child, hurt by the words of my child, ashamed of my behavior, and embarrassed that my child was reflecting poorly of my parenting. I was questioning every decision I’ve ever made on behalf of my children. I was a mess. But even then, I did not appear nearly as melodramatic as after the next event. A cop stepped out in front of my car and waved me over. Ugh…a school zone. “Seriously, what’s the big idea? What is up with this day?” With 12 minutes left in the designated time slot for the reduced speed, I was caught going the full speed…and on the phone. I chunked my cell to the opposite side of the car and veered over. I got a ticket from a very unfriendly sheriff. This day was not getting any better.
I cried myself the rest of the way home. Poor Judah sat in his carseat, wondering what in the world was going on. After gaining composure, I thought, I can redeem this day. I will bake cookies. I will let my children know that I am sorry for the morning by having warm chocolate chip goodness for them when they arrive in the afternoon. So I set to finding a recipe and checking the pantry for all the supplies as Judah took his nap. I had everything except the baking powder. So I googled substitutions online and found something that might work. I was now racing against the clock to be done by the time Judah woke and we had to head back into the car for pick up. I mixed and pre-heated and dropped rounded spoonfuls. When I came back to check my act of goodwill, the oven-light revealed yet another failing of the day.
There was no part of this day that I had any control over…ahhh…and I think I just stumbled on the clear message of the day.
Control. I’ve got none of it.
So what do I do with my lack of control? The lack of control over my temper that morning? The lack of control over my children’s behavior? My lack of control over what other’s are thinking about me? My lack of control to pay attention to the flashing school zone lights? My lack of control when expressing my frustration and emotions over the phone? My lack of control over the chemical properties of baking soda and the reaction it has (or doesn’t have) when combined with lemon juice? Apparently, my instinct is to turn to shame and embarrassment, which all stems from pride. I assume I have the ability to be in control. Or maybe even, I assume that I have the right to be in control of these things. If I didn’t assume that control was mine to be had, than why would I feel a sense of failure that I was unable to achieve it?
Nothing is mine to control. Control is not mine to achieve. So when the wheels are spinning off and heads seems to be devilishly rotating while spewing green words of hurt at me, I don’t have to turn to shame. It’s life. I can’t control any of this, especially the redeeming part. I can’t muster up the best plan to redeem my day and somehow make it all better. Jesus is doing something in these moments. He’s still good and He is working all things out for my good and for the good of those around me. So, when I am having to let another adult rip my child off my body, its a necessary step in the process to overcome their separation anxiety. It’s good for them to not cling to me, and this season, while hard, is developing them into the young adults I long for them to be. That police officer probably got kudos for the number of tickets he wrote that day, I don’t know. But, somehow I have to believe that it was good for him, and probably good for me to become more aware of my oversight of school zones. The cookies…well, Jesus did redeem the cookies. My attempt to redeem the day resulted in imperfection, but He turned that into something worthwhile. They were flat, but chewy and good. My taste-tester, Judah, approved. And when I handed each of my kids a baggie of sweetness as they entered the car at pick-up, they were all smiles.
Jesus redeems more than just my failures. He redeems the little things in the little moments of my little day. The only purpose in Him having my cookies turn out okay was to love me. How often do we believe that He cares that much? How often do we experience His goodness on a day that seems like a waste?
Life After Rehab was not guaranteed to be easy. It was not promised to me that after rehabbing, we would receive an awarded ability to control. No, if anything we were promised to face challenges and learning experiences that would leave our lack of self-control laid bare and our depravity raw. I need Jesus. Even when I make cookies. I need Him and His presence to satisfy me and to assure me. This is rehab 101: God is bigger than me and I am powerless on my own. I thought I had learned that lesson last year, but it’s daily implications still impact me.
We have continued to struggle in the mornings. I have continued to try and control. Jesus is softening me, breaking me down so that my inability to control is fully revealed to me, and if needed for my sanctification, revealed to everyone around me. (I really hope I don’t require that.) Growth is labor-intensive. Figuring out how to walk a rehabilitated life while thrown into the mix requires the same intensity and intentionality as figuring out how to do it in a season of removal and distance. It requires a dependency on the Holy Spirit to listen and look at life in a different way. We are learning. If only I had spent the time processing this lesson earlier, I’d probably saved some shame, disappointment, and feelings of failure. But there is grace in this too.
I am thankful of His reminders. “You’re not in control.” “It doesn’t matter what they say, I know your heart.” “Stop trying to assume what others are thinking about you, and think on what I am teaching you.” “Slow down.” “Take deep breaths and rest in me.” “Enjoy me and my presence, and have a cookie to tangibly taste how good my plan of redemption is.” “Don’t forget to talk to me.”
You know, those cookies…those paper-thin cookies were my moment of communion with Him. Through that sugary manna-like treat, He reminded me of His presence, His goodness, His redemption. He gave me something physical to put in my mouth so I could remember the sweetness of His faithfulness. I think I’m on to my next big idea…chocolate chip communion wafers. 🙂