Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Thing Called Rest? What is That?

I am sitting at the end of my very long dining room table that hubby and I bought from IKEA about 4 years ago. I am looking at all the little dents and scratches etched from little toddlers spoons from the last few years. The table was only 300 bucks or so. It is just a block table to be used for eating, crafting, sewing and art. I love our humble table. Presently it is the only thing tidy in the house. The breakfast mess has been cleared off and my 10 year old is loading the dishwasher. There are toys all over the living room floor. The twins have been crying on and off all morning because they woke up before the roosters crowed. Sounds chaotic huh?

Now, I could be doing laundry because the smelly mountain is calling my name. And I really need to get a couple of the kids going on their Math. However, it has been a stressful morning and I am going to take a writing. Sometimes my mind gets really cluttered. That means, "Time to pen some thoughts!" And when I do so, I only share what is going on with me in hopes that maybe someone can relate. So, anyone? Anyone? Do ever wonder what that foreign word "rest" means? I have been silently mulling over it this week.

Personally, I often have trouble entering true rest because of an internal pressure called, "shoulds and ought tos". Why is it I get into my head these standards that I think I should meet up to? Here are a few of my present pressures . They like to scream at me! And I am still in the process of learning how to silence them.

1.I should be able to be everything for my children all day every day. And if I am not, I am falling off the job of what it means to be a "good" mother.

2. My house should be more organized and dust free. The laundry should aways stay caught up.

3. I should be able to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, eat salads for lunch every day and never eat chocolate again.

4. I should be out in the neighborhood and the community helping others and making more friends. After all, we are called to be the salt of the earth, right?

5. Everyone of my children should be involved in sports, clubs and activities to make them more "rounded".

6. I should invite people over to my house more often for dinner.

7. And the list goes on and on.

Now tell me that I am not the only one. I can only imagine the multitudes of women, wives, and moms who wrestle with their own internal pressures to be this and to do that. And if we do not meet up to the "list" then we think ourselves failures. So the cycle goes on and on . We become work horses of endless striving and urgency. How exhausting!!

On the other hand I have been pondering this: If I gave myself over to half of the list above, in reality I would be cheating. Yes, cheating. In life we either cheat someone or something. If I am a slave to my house, to having a lot of friends, to an over emphasis on appearance, to even being a minister outside of my home, then someone is cheated. And who is that? My family. However, if I daily choose my family, who is really the most important in the first place, I am cheating other people and tasks. The reality is that something or someone is going to be short changed. I am reminded even now, that my first calling is to relationship with God and my family members and that means making sacrifices! There is no human way to do it all even if we try.

To everything in one's life there is a season. For me, I have been in a 20 year season of having and raising children. Twenty years seems long. However, I look back and those years have been a vapor. And if the Lord chooses to give me at least 18 more years, that is when the twins will probably be on their own. Think of it, I will be 63 years old. If the next 18 years zooms by like the last 20, I want to soak in every moment because I can never get them back once they are gone.

So as I age and mature, I am still learning as a child of God to let go of certain things. Sometimes we have to let go of certain relationships that can be very difficult and painful. And most importantly, we are constantly being challenged to let go of certain mind sets.

Several years ago, our family was blessed in a very special way. We were expecting our ninth baby. We were moving out of our home during my first trimester. Because of the fatigue and morning sickness, it was difficult to accomplish anything, especially packing boxes. My laundry room was so cluttered with dirty clothes that I could not even walk through. One day I was feeling so defeated by everything around me, I threw myself down in the middle of all the dirty laundry and began to loudly cry out to God for help. A couple of weeks later, two precious Chinese woman flew over from Taiwan to help us. For two weeks they worked diligently packing boxes, cooking meals, doing laundry and caring for the other children. Every time I would try to help, those sweet ladies would look at me and say, "Ange, go take a rest! Go take a rest!"

I am reminded that God never puts half the pressure on us that we put upon ourselves. And sometimes people put pressure on us that God never intends. We have to learn to draw the line sometimes and say, "NO!" And if it costs a friendship, then maybe the person was never a real friend to begin with.

So can we learn to rest? WE can gain a new perspective that:

1.We can learn to see our lives in seasons. Our lives will be different 10 years from now. This insulates us from thinking that certain goals and dreams have to be met within this year or even next year. God wants to give us many things, but not all at once.

2. Find "down times" that work for you and your family. We can get so bogged down by tasks at times that we can easily fall into looking at our children as interruptions instead of priorities. Put down what you are doing and join in with what the kids are doing. Sit under the stars on a blanket, play Lego's, sit at the table and color, sit up later to talk with your teenagers.

3. Guard against overcommitment. When we are going in too many directions, we as moms often feel like we are spread too thin. Keep enough space in your schedule so you can truly enjoy moments instead of being stressed out by too many activities. A life too cluttered by business makes for a grouchy mom. I want to be a cheerful mom!

When we can practice resting, we truly can find our individual nitch of what it means to live peacefully. Our hearts will be more settled and we find more harmony in our relationships and day to day responsibilities. So, I sit here now and think about how I can "take a rest". I desire to savor every moment and to live this day in abundance for tomorrow is never promised.

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Take a moment to listen today
To what your children are trying to say...
Listen to their problems
Listen for their needs...
Tolerate their chatter
Amplify their laughter
Find out whats the matter
Find out what they're after
But tell them that you love them
Every single night...
Listen today, whatever you do
And they will come back to listen to you.


Pam said...

Yes, rest. Oh heavenly quiet, o lovely peace. We long for it, we thrive with it, we wash out without it.
To get filled with the Spirit of the living God, to be heard by him; healed and counseled; understood.
Then we have something to give out. Why can't we see this? An empty pot cannot pour out. A thirsty plant cannot bloom.
I've been letting go too. Reading a book called Breathe has ministered to me. It has helped me see the priorities God has for me. Him, husband, family first.

Dana said...

Very beautifully written. Thank you for the reminder!

. said...

You kind of hit home with the way you put that the past years have flown by. So true! With our son moved out and on his own, I have pondered that thought myself, much. You worded it in a way that actually got me to thinking. Very well put! I think I have said it before Ange, children are a gift from God! Your years of being a wonderful and loving mother have obviously led the way to more gifts from God in the presence of your wonderful twins! Keep up the great writing and I love the pics from the last post as well!! Take care and enjoy some rest. I think you well deserve it. Thank God for the help you have from John.

Angie said...

I am blessed. Blessed because I have trained my children to be helpful, and considerate around our home.

Blessed I have a wonderful husband who is so in tune with my physical and spiritual well being that before I get to a point of breakdown he steps in and gets things done.

Rest is not an easy thing to find when you have alot of pressures, but I am grateful it is there for me when I need it.