It’s the only word I can come up with to describe the last few weeks, months even. And just when I think that I’m warming up to the intensity, life keeps happening. It keeps getting more, well, intense.
With four mobile children ages 6 and under (one entering her tantrum time, and one hopefully exiting his), a newly potty-trained 2 (soon to be 3) year old little man, finishing up home schooling for the year, and the regular rig-a-ma-roll of cooking, cleaning, shopping, chauffeuring, and working, I’ve barely had time to breathe.
Note: I’m not complaining. I function best under pressure. In fact, I even added more to our plate: getting the house ready to put on the market (we’ll see!), starting a new exercise and diet routine (2 weeks, 8 lbs. and 12 inches lost), and continuing to form a non-profit organization aimed at adoption education, support and reform. To top it all off, my dear husband has been working out of town Monday through Friday, giving me some extra weekday duties and no evening relief!
No, I’m not complaining. I’m celebrating. Life is good. We’re definitely not bored. Our house is filled with laughter…or crying…or both. My days are spent with my four favorite little people in the universe. My evenings are spent catching up on the phone with my favorite guy in the world before I conquer the rest of my to-do list. I remember days that used to seem super long. These days go by too quickly. No, I’m not complaining…this week. But if you talked to me before my last heart check, I was oozing with discontent. My apologies to all those friends who endured my grumbling.
Until recently, this intense season left me panicky, complaining, and dismal. What’s a girl to do with all this responsibility, no help, and pure, utter exhaustion? Well, this girl tried to do it in her own strength…over and over and over and over again. Day in and day out. And what met me in the morning was a worse attitude than the day before. I dreaded the day, and “suffered” through them as if my life was terrible. Truth is, it isn’t. Not one little bit. But by breakfast, I probably visibly appeared burdened. Yeah, I was a little, black rain cloud.
But intensity does that to you…it skews your perspective. It makes you think that you absolutely cannot handle another responsibility, another moment, another activity. In reality, and in ultimate truth, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength…ay, there’s the rub. In who? Not in me…but in Christ.
You’d think I would have this idea down. You’d think I’d know to take life one day at a time, in His strength. But that truth is still sinking from my head, to my heart, hopefully to become my habit. It wasn’t until about 10 minutes into a grueling (for me!) exercise dvd last week that I realized how much we want to quit when things get hard. Doing 3 minutes of intense strength training on the same muscle group not only affects my body, but it affects my mind. You can’t do this. You aren’t strong enough for this. You’re gonna collapse. Just give up. But everything in me knows that if I stick with it, results happen…and it’s not that long of a time in the grand scheme of things.
So it is the same with life. When we’re faced with intense challenges, they are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually draining. Our mind plays some pretty powerful tricks on us, tricks that seemingly erase truth that we were convinced were rooted in our hearts. You can’t do this. Poor you. Other moms at least get a break.. You’re never gonna make it. Just give up. Self-pity sets the stage for lies to creep in and transform our mind. But there’s a huge problem with this…self-pity, lies, exhaustion, life circumstances, intensity in general are not the controlling factors in transforming us. Rather, Romans 12: 2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
I’ve been justifying my heart attitude saying that I still was making time for God. I was still in the Word. I was still leaning on Him. Therefore, this was what holiness and goodness and joy looked like in this season. But I’m gonna be honest. It was all in vain. I was looking for Him to take away my burden rather than allowing him to transform me by renewing my mind. I wasn’t giving him my mind. I was holding on to it. I was offering up my time, my attention, but not my agenda…not my complaining. I couldn’t imagine succumbing to the thought that I could endure my to-do list with joy and strength. No, that couldn’t be the answer. The moment I let my agenda go, so went the grumbling, the self-defeating thoughts, and dreading waking up the next morning.
The character trait we’ve been learning around the Stack house is patience. The operational definition of patience is something that I should have picked up on much sooner than I did…it might have ended my mind grumbling a little earlier. We’re learning that patience means “accepting a difficult decision without giving a deadline to remove it.”
So while I thought I was being patient outwardly with my kids, my husband’s work schedule, my own work…really, inwardly I was loudly reminding God (o.k., screaming at Him!) that if He didn’t do something to my work load I was going to explode.
I am thankful for His mercy. I am thankful that He takes us through some intense times so that He can drive home a truth that we think we have a handle on. I am thankful that I can walk my kids through my weaknesses, and I am hopeful that they don’t struggle with fundamental truths to the extent I do at my age.
I am thankful for intensity. It’s exhausting, but it always produces results.