This day has been painful. Well, this morning, rather. It’s 11:07am.
The events are not new. No new tragedy, an average night’s sleep, little boys who stayed in bed til a very lovely hour (they do spoil me with their wake time). Cute wrestling toddlers and a 35 year old husband and daddy all tangled and giggling next to me. Idyllic, no? Yet I have to work hard at my morning attitude, it does not come natural, or easy, or sometimes at all. I’m an ogre in the morning without loads of effort. But the point is, nothing was exceedingly difficult that would make my struggle to mother or love these people so painful today. Literally, at times excruciating.
I do a lot of lightheartedness about this road of motherhood, but this is a real day. In real time. I’m at our local community center where child care costs me a whopping 1.50 per kid for 2 hours max. Free wifi and a fireplace surrounded by fiercely competitive senior citizens, playing bridge. It’s a prime atmosphere for writing, reflection, and many awkward days of tears streaming down my face across the room. They stare curiously and I sit alone in my hurt and disappointment. But it’s a great place to be alone. With me. With my thoughts, my heart, and often, my yuck.
So what is so painful Paige? What is it that has you here today?
You see, today I was me. Today, I fell victim to the destructive nature I have inside me. You see, before I became Momma, I was a very controlled, mostly patient, relatively fun person. But above all, oh so capable. I love learning new skills. I’m fantastic at rise to the challenge occasions and pulling things off that might seem daunting to others. Capable and always in control. That’s been me.
Then I had two little boys under two.
And my incapable self took a big dump on all my control and abilities.
Today I’m seeing what happens to a person who has spent their life leaning on their own understanding. Utilizing their own fortitude and abilities above all else, to solve their problems. I would hear people talk about their problem being that they are relying on their own strength and not God’s, and I would nod and go, “totally.” Sometimes internally rolling my eyes at the religious speak, and sometimes nodding and really thinking I meant it.
I would have the moments of introspection where I thought, “what the heck does that really mean?” And times I had glimmers of insight. Brief moments where I felt these thoughts in the back corners of mind. Where the statement struck a cord for a bit, though I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it. See, I thought it meant simply verbally giving God control, or asking him to give me strength or help in a situation. And it does. It definitely does. But what I need today, what’s happening in my life today, it’s more than that.
And today, here are my thoughts.
This transfer of strength. It’s a shift of control and power and “capable-ness”; to sheer and utter loss. No ability to control my temper. No power to just overcome my frustration by the strength of my will. No skill set to fall back on in order to create success. I’m absolutely incapable of pulling myself together…myself.
Our culture will tell us that ultimately the only thing in this world that is reliable and trustworthy is ourselves. And we must look out for and care for ourselves above all. I am the source of my own strength.
And today is a case study in proving this philosophy to be a lie.
Day after day, I try. I use my strength, my creativity, my efforts, my abilities and I cannot do it. I fail miserably. Not just a little bit. But yelling and snotting and crying and begging for it to end, kind of failure.
And I don’t get it. Why is this person who has always been able to accomplish what she wants, so very incapable? And not for lacking of valiant effort. Hard core effort and determination.
This is what it is. This is what it means to come to the end of your self. To be relying on your own strength.
It means running out of it. My strength has died, it is powerless.
And what has followed is humiliation. Literally typing that word makes me sweat. I am a person that above all, hates to look stupid or have people think I might not be able to do something. Whoa. This is a hard landing place, including a painful trip down, for someone like me. For anyone.
The word humiliation means to feel foolish. And it sounds horrible.
Yet try as I may to avoid it, I’m seeing that humiliation is an unavoidable process for a person with finite strength. We will be confronted over and over with our own weakness. Our own failings.
My choice is in my response. Two options: shame or humility. Shame is a handcuff. It’s a restraint. It hinders my ability to move forward. To get up off the floor and blow my nose and make lunch for my kids. It holds me tight and follows me around and says, “not a chance.”
“You are a bad mom.”
“You will never change.”
“If people knew…”
Shame will not let you move forward.
But humility will. Humility is release. It’s freedom. It allows for forward movement. Humility, a right view of one’s self, says, “Now. There is hope.”
Humility is not thinking less of ourselves than we should, we are made in God’s image and He loves us; but not higher than we ought, He has saved us from the penalty of our choices and sins, and He is our Creator.
I’m struggling today as a mom. I’ve been humiliated, made foolish in my own attempts. And I see glimmers of humility. I see more and more clearly that my own understanding and my own strength is not enough. It simply isn’t. I cannot do it alone.
And so, today I’m asking for God to strengthen me, for His spirit to lead me where I can’t go on my own. I absolutely can’t fight my sinful self and it’s desire for destruction without leaning in to his power. He has given me His very Spirit. It literally lives in me.
I’m going to beg Him to love my kids through me. To be patience in me. To control what I cannot control myself.
He has promised us this and today I’m going to make every effort to believe Him. Not in a magic pill way, but in an, I can’t survive the day, way.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9