I walked out on my family today. Sure, it was just for 10 minutes so I could talk a walk around the block and regain some sanity, but in a way, I felt like I was quitting. I could say it’s been a rough week, but I’m not sure that it has. Some really neat things happened this week — conversations that I wouldn’t have expected, deeper friendship, openness to meeting new people, a greater glimpse of God at work in me, my family, this community. Despite a week where the high temperature reached 97-99 four days in a row, I’d call it a great week.
So, what gives? Why did I flip out today? I thought the walk would have helped, and it did somewhat. It prevented me from further yelling at my daughter because she wouldn’t give me a moment’s peace, not even to go to the bathroom. But even after the walk, I still ended up a ball of blubbering tears because Corban wouldn’t take his afternoon nap and I had no idea what to make for supper. I felt like a big, fat, motherhood failure with a capital F. I ran to our bedroom, locked the door and curled up on the bed, seeking just a minute or two of solitude and maybe a wink or two of sleep. My heart cried out to God, the only One to whom I can be 100 percent transparent without fear of judgment.
When it was over, this assault on my mind, I felt like I’d been held by my heavenly Father for a few minutes. Why should this surprise me? Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Rest. For my body. For my soul. Both have been lacking, but the absence of the rest I’ve needed for my soul threw my entire world out of perspective today. I was spiritually tired and willing to believe any thought that entered my mind.
Those same verses, paraphrased in The Message, illustrate for me a better way to live my life.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
“The unforced rhythms of grace” — what a concept. I thought of that as Isabelle helped me with the dishes. She doesn’t do everything the way I want her to. Sometimes she messes up. Do I get angry at her for that? Or do I calmly explain and show her a better way? I know what God would do with me.
So much of how each day with the children goes depends on my attitude, I’m learning. If I start the day pessimistic, worried, anxious, tired or stressed, then chances are, the kids are going to pick up on that. It really is true, that old saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
We took another walk tonight, me and the children. All the way around the “moo-cow” block as we sometimes call it. Isabelle didn’t dawdle as much. The weather didn’t bother me as much. She listened to my calm suggestions to stay on the grass and away from the fence, to not run too far ahead of me. We missed, by minutes, getting hit by a baseball that went foul from the park. It hit a parked car where we’d walk just a little bit before. We were gone for 45 minutes or so, and it was lovely.
Attitude, certainly, is everything. And mine can only be right when I take time for spiritual rest.
Gentle. Humble. Easy. Light. These are the things Jesus promises about walking and working with Him. When life is any other way, I fear it’s because I’m trying to do life without Him.
“Apart from me, you can do nothing,” Jesus also said.
I don’t want my life to be nothing. Or hard. Or heavy.
Come to Him, I must.