If it wasn’t for our weekly Isaiah class… I would have been worse for wear. This year has been disorienting, difficult. We were stripped of all artificial crutches and were faced with our limitations.
First things first.
I have nothing to prove. And yet, as I say I struggle with self worth, I realize there is a deep-seated need to be useful, efficient, hardworking, for the sake of hard work, to keep busy, to not be idle.
The tension in my reality is that I am needed where I am, I am plenty busy, over-worked, stretched thin between overlapping responsibilities, as a mother in a pandemic. I try to understand where this need for having a career comes from. Self-sufficiency. Self-reliance. Financial security. Especially as we now share the responsibility of parenting for two children. As I stock the pond with learning things I didn’t have time for during the full-time job, discovering what really makes me thrive, what works fulfills me, and it doesn’t feel like work because I’m fully invested in it… I have thins nagging feeling that if I enjoy what I do it’s not work. If I’m too efficient it’s not work, if money comes sporadically in larger chunks is not work. And yet, for half of our married work we’ve reaped benefits of our investments in building a business, in having paid off debt, in owning outright own home. God is a generous father yet I keep questioning him and his ability to provide and his methods. I don’t know if pride makes us not accept any kind of handouts. Though my parents have blessed us beyond expectations with a warm timely meal.
My favorite love language, my easy to speak love language is words of affirmation. Though I was not showered with praises or encouragement, it seems everything I was gifted in this way was trustworthy and high-quality. Much like a good gift giver who give only the very best, it’s not about volume or leftovers, but it’s all about quality gifts. I get that. I would never water down my words of encouragement. I would look for opportunities and be specific. Speak the truth. Always. And I realize why I savor so much my time reading the Bible. I receive God’s words of affirmation through it.
Feeling depleted this Fall, not having time set aside to read the Word, I saw where I got unplugged. So I decided to set time aside to spend with the Lord, reading the Bible. Uninterrupted. It’s not impossible. Our kids are 4 and 7. They can be pretty self-sufficient if necessary. If we don’t work on setting some boundaries, explaining the reasoning and setting, I won’t get the time I need.
The Thursday Isaiah class has been, on some days, incessantly interrupted, for no urgent reason, just because the girls got used to having me at their disposal. I have asked specifically and explained why I need this time to focus, often being a reader as well. It confronted me with the reality of not having any time at all, not even when it’s an obvious and limited window of time. It left me crying hot tears, frustrated, depleted. So on many occasions afterwards I let the room and asked to not be interrupted. Under no circumstances. It worked.
I think most parents struggle with guilt if they aren’t available, especially since they are in the line of sight, or earshot. I have given everything I had, trying to be flexible, to adapt, to serve, to leave myself out of sanity, but outside sanity is a scary place that no kids should push their parents out to, for everyone’s sake.
My first love has been poems. I used to make them rhyme as a teenager. Pretty lame. But I still liked to doodle and play with words. I’ m not the best prose writer. I take pleasure in journaling, and letting my thoughts form into words so I could better process and understand myself.
We’ve had such a good season these past few weeks. We are pushed and stretched still. Kids still have needs. We’re still in a pandemic. But I rediscovered how to see the fun in the mundane. Their grumpy outbursts make me laugh instead of taking them personally. The atmosphere is much lighter. We’ve become overly sensitive and empathetic with each other’s emotions Conrad and I. And that was difficult as we both parent side by side. I’ve reintroduced the rational decision making and processing, despite my gut reaction. Though intuition plays a huge role in my decisions. There are times when we have to shelve intuition and use my god given wisdom accumulated from books and experience and logic.
It’s the end of the year. And looking back I can count on one hand my support groups, my lifeline, the people that helped me stay sane. Our bubble. Brian and our Isaiah class has forced me to listen to God’s words of affirmation. For this I am so grateful. Not to mention the stage to read my poems. Then insightful blogposts, sent out into ether, didn’t heal my soul as much as one poem read to open hearts and listening ears.
Conrad and I have made time the past couple of months to talk to each other. After putting the girls to bed. To listen to each other. To validate each other. To encourage and reflect an outside perspective.
For his companionship I am so grateful. For God’s gift of community even across words and borders… so grateful. I put on the altar. My whole being. I don’t know what I’m doing. But God does. May he speak loud and clear and may I hear well.