Thursday, October 3, 2013

feelings are not dictators

I deal with a lot of emotions and feelings, being a woman and taking care of littles every day. Last week I shared an article on facebook along the same lines of many I've been sharing lately - motherhood is hard and full of imperfection, and that's ok. This one in particular was about loneliness in the long hard days of moms at home with littles. A friend commented, "Motherhood must suck." I responded, "Lol, not a chance! Somebody has to do the dirty work of raising Godly children and our next generation in general!" That is the truth from my heart. But as I spent most of the next morning overwhelmed, frustrated, and at the end of my rope, I thought, "If I really feel as I expressed in that comment, why do I have so many days like this?!" I left the boys playing in the living room just before lunch, to get things upstairs ready for nap after lunch {each in their own space, with a designated toy set, because, whew, we all needed that! :)} and I just cried out to God, venting my frustrations, wondering what to do with my feelings, and how in the world to care for the boys in love despite some negative feelings in my heart.

After I got the boys down, I was spending some more time talking to God as I finished cleaning up lunch, and was just still feeling lost. Then I spent a little time reading an article posted that day by Janet Lansbury, one I'd read before, on validating kids' emotions. [I enjoy a lot about Janet Lansbury and RIE, and about positive,respectful parenting, though we are working in our family to couple this together with Biblical discipline in different ways than RIE purports at times.] It was then I was reminded of these words I typed but didn't share a little while back:

I've been having a hard time really grasping hope again lately. Today, my raw heart gave way. After reading some more from Lysa TerKeurst's Unglued, I laid down on the couch at about 1:45, desperately wanting a 30 minute rest. But Jordan woke up before I could go to sleep. Before he'd been asleep an hour. Before his body was really ready to be done resting. I went to the bed he naps in at nannying and could tell right away: no more rest for either of us.

"But God?! You know he needs rest. You know I need rest. Why won't you just let him sleep so I can sleep?!" I rocked him a little in the bed, and then rubbed his back, helping him get at least a little more rest. Explaining to him the reason he was feeling as he does is because his body wants him to rest some more. Not a chance.

As I lay there rubbing his back, the Lord prompted me, "What do you really want?" And I thought, "to be joyful when he wakes up from nap, no matter what, and to enjoy playing with him." And that's what I really want. Not the emotional angry thoughts that followed - those were just my feelings.

So I looked at my feelings as my indicator, and suddenly, hurtfully, I saw: I'm bitter. I'm angry. I'm unglued. And I want it to be everyone else's fault but mine. It's Jordan's fault because I have spent most of his life willing him to give in to the rest his body so desperately needs. It's Jordan's fault because I have to give so much energy into helping shape his strong will that I have no energy left for me. It's the kids' fault because they just won't listen and learn (not even true!). It's Josh's fault because he has a lot of things [God is calling him] to do right now. I explode and shame myself, I explode and blame others, I stuff and build barriers, I stuff and collect retaliation rocks. I've been blaming and shaming others in my heart, building barriers, and the retaliation rocks fly.

 I need to learn to process emotions in a way that my feelings won't dictate a negative response. Because feelings are indicators, not dictators.

And that is exactly what I need to learn and teach right now. Emotions and feelings are not going away for any of us, but the crappy way we let them dictate us can go away. And learning to love not based on emotions and feelings can win. And learning to be kind when our feelings say otherwise is important. It's all totally feasible when we are faithful, when we put ourselves at the foot of the cross, and let Christ's light overpower our sin.


Add that to the list of awesome things God has brought to light since having a child, to change me in a more Christlike way.

Motherhood is tough, the lessons for us are tough, the lessons we have to teach are tough. But when we accept these challenges and allow God to change us, we can see, motherhood is a calling that is totally worth it. The other great thing is that, though there will always be tough days (let me know when you meet someone who never has tough days!), there are a lot of things we can do to lighten the load. Seeking God's presence first, having scripture in my heart/brain to lean on, prioritizing spouse time, prioritizing rest, opening our hearts to learn from the Lord and others who have gone before, and forgiving and seeking forgiveness (including/especially with the littles!) are all things that are totally feasible and amazingly helpful. I think I'll make a list of all these helpful things to look at and remind me when I'm in those trenches, to help me let that light in.

(Also, here's a good list I saw posted that day... I think it's good for moms or dads with sons or daughters!)

Lord, please remind me that you meet me where I'm at each day, and that each day does not have be filled with emotions and feelings dictating responses! Help me to recognize my feelings and responses, lay them at the cross, and continue imperfectly progressing each day toward the change in me You want to see. Amen.

1 comment :

  1. What a great reminder! I love my littles, but letting my negative emotions take over is a quick way to send the day on a downward spiral. Being a mom to littles is such a blessing, but it is also something the Lord is using greatly to show me my own sin and need to grow.