Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pain, Prayer, and the Power of a Smile

You’ve heard it said before…it’s the woman who sets the tone in the home.  That’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it?  And yet, I’m learning that it’s a great opportunity to practice spiritual discipline.

So, it’s been a crazy week.  We thought I may have had to have my gall bladder removed…random, huh?  I’ve had this incredible pain in my right side and it has been getting worse all week.  The doctors thought it was the gall bladder and sent me to ultrasound to confirm.  Before I went, we talked through the surgical procedure and who would be performing this “very simple” process of taking out an organ.  We enlisted a few close friends and prayed.  The good news: it’s not my gall bladder!  I’m so thankful that I get to keep all the organs I was born with!  The bad news: I’m still in considerable pain, and it’s really wearing me out.

Mondays are usually my best day of the week…I know, I know.  I’m a strange specimen of human that actually enjoys Mondays.  This week was no different, other than by night time, the pain was increasing.  Tuesday morning was rough.  I woke up to the cries of a toddler and a baby simultaneously, which is never fun.  Our morning routine of making sure everyone is changed, fed, washed up, and dressed usually takes about 1 ½ hours.  Tuesday morning, it took close to 3.  By 10 a.m., we were finally done with breakfast!  I was crabby, tired, and having one of those “why me God?” attitudes.  We had a great visit with some friends we hadn’t seen for awhile, but after they left, it was business as usual.  I was physically miserable, and I didn’t do a great job at masking that feeling.  It seemed that my feelings seeped into my boys through osmosis, manifesting themselves by way of bad attitudes.  I watched as the bickering started to grow.  I cringed as the impatience and intolerance towards each other seemed to dominate every interaction between the three of them.  I lacked energy to know how to deal with this slow motion avalanche of yuk that was going on.  I begrudgingly made dinner and cleaned up the kitchen.  The evening was filled with bad attitudes, and even my husband was exasperated trying to keep everyone in check.  It was an awful night. 

After the kids went to bed, I asked my husband, “why is it that every time I feel absolutely miserable does the rest of the family decide to lose control?”  Before he could even answer, it was as if God was directly speaking to my heart…it was because I was leading them down a road of discontent, unhappiness, intolerance, and impatience.  And though my husband leads our family, I really do set the tone for how we operate our home.  And little eyes are always watching. 

Yikes!  I have really been messing up this one!  Today, I sat my boys down and explained to them that God’s Word applies to us no matter how we feel and that mommy has been making some mistakes.  I asked them to forgive me, which of course they did because kids are amazing!

We don’t have a choice to opt out of giving Him glory with our entire being.  We don’t have the excuse that we don’t feel well or are tired so we can’t love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  There’s no opt out clause or loophole in His commandments to love Him first and others second.  I certainly am not the only one who walks through life with physical ailments and limitations.  Arguably, everyone has hurdles that they must overcome on a daily basis.  I am beginning to see Jesus’ life in a new light.  He was fully man, with physical limitations. 

In His typical gentle way, the Lord showed me just how my reactions should look by highlighting a subtle point in a well known story.  There is an account in the Bible when Jesus was ministering all day, and at the end of the day, he hopped on a boat in order to retreat to the mountains, by himself, and pray.  He was probably exhausted after a day of ministry in the hot sun.  During the boat ride, he was probably already relaxing his mind just thinking that soon he would be alone, resting with his father.  But, as soon as he hit land, there was a crowd of people that gathered to be with him.  A crowd of hungry people.  He could have been crabby and tired.  He could have told them “just a minute, I have something that I planned on doing.  I’ll get to you when I get to you.”  But he knew what his calling was…he knew what His father wanted him to do.  And that knowledge plus the great love for his father gave him the strength to overcome his physical limitations at that moment.  He fed five thousand people that day and taught them.  I like to think that Jesus never rushed through the fellowship part of teaching people either.  I think that he said what he needed to say, and that he touched, hugged, and locked eyes with everyone he could.  That takes time, energy, and an immense amount of love and insight. 

Today, I tried to be a little more like Jesus.  I woke up in more pain than yesterday. I’m even more tired.  But, I fed my hungry troops and I sat and listened to their dreams last night.  We read together and I taught them.  I smiled at them and looked them in the eye as much as I could.  When one needed to be picked up, I stopped what I was doing and picked them up.  I made sure I told each one today just how special they were to me.  What a difference my attitude made!  Though it seemed like I was putting on an Oscar winning performance, every word I said was true and every hug I gave was authentic. 

A smile from a mommy to a child means more than many words.  A random hug from a wife to a husband warms his heart.  God’s perfect order dictates that we cast our cares on Him, because He cares for us all.  If we honor this idea, our cares are properly placed on the shoulders of someone able and willing to handle it, and not on our families who do not know how to heal our bodies and bring peace to our spirits.  While we need to be honest with each other, and while many teachable moments are born in walking out a hardship in an intentional way, we must also have the insight and the love in our hearts to overlook our pain and problems to feed and serve our families. 

Today, I’m thankful for many things:  that I get to keep all my organs, that I’m blessed with a family to love and serve, that I have great friends that I can trust and pray with, and that God cares so immensely for us that if we listen, His still, small voice can break through our ordinary day to make a lasting impact on our hearts and ultimately, the hearts of our children.


  1. thanks, this is good. Sometimes I am in a bad mood in the mornings and I know it affects the rest of my family. But I need to choose to rely on God's strength and not my emotions or physical state. (that will be my mantra, lol)

  2. and I totally agree with you about Mondays, I think it's because we get back on our schedule and routine after the weekend.

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only Monday lover!! I love your mantra...mine is that I will be a joyful mother of children!