Monday, April 13, 2015

Rest

It is no secret that this time of year is stressful for our family.  When soccer season is in full force, on practice days, D is gone from 7:45 to 6:30 or 7.  On game days, he is gone from 7:45 to sometimes as late as 10 or 10:30.  The early weeks of the season also see D putting in extra hours as he organizes paperwork and tasks like pumping up balls and handing out uniforms.  He also has to do his regular teaching job.  It puts a lot on his plate.  The season also means a lot of alone time for me.  The days involve not much down time or quiet, a lot of chaos as I do supper and homework and bath and bed for all four kids by myself.

To be clear, this is one of D's passions.  He loves coaching and soccer in ways I don't quite understand.  We both see it as a ministry opportunity.  It's  about soccer but it's a lot more about modeling for teenagers what it means to become men and what it means to be in a family.  It's a way to help kids learn life lessons about faith, reputation, responsibility, and relationships.  We are not complaining because we chose this.  But it does stretch us thin.

For whatever reason, these last few weeks have left me feeling that tautness, where I just am weary, where I feel like I am playing "whack a mole" with a to do list that is constantly lengthening.  The house seems messy, the laundry seems overwhelming, our finances seem out of control, the kids seem to be terrors, and I seem to be crabby.

It's just a vicious cycle.  The more I feel like things are out of control, the more I try to reign them in.  It's feeling like you've been handed a gigantic bouquet of helium balloons, all with loose strings.  You know that in order to keep them all earthbound you need to to pull them in, to tightly grasp those strings but the more you try to adjust and reposition, the more likely it seems that one or two will slip right through your fingers.  So you pull a few more strings and find yourself feeling more in control but then notice that those on the opposite side are starting to work their way out.  It's this constant battle of pulling things near and watching them starting to escape, of worrying about the red one and then the blue one and then worrying not just about the balloon but about a whole bunch of other things that you never even noticed when you were first given the balloons.  One of them suddenly seems lopsided.  Perhaps it's deflating?  One of them seems larger than the others.  It must be too full and ready to burst.  And that string on the yellow one has a knot, right near the middle.

For me, stress tends to become a ever increasing situation.  The more stressed I find myself, the more I worry and analyze and plan and seek to control, and the more tightly wound I become.   The more tightly wound I am, the less I like myself.  I am no fun to be around.  I am irritable, short tempered, harsh, and quick to yell.  The more tightly wound I become, the more the relationships around me get tangled up in the knot I have created.  Bickering, disrespect, pettiness-these all increase which then in turn adds more stress and irritation for me.

I have felt a bit trapped lately, knowing that my own attitudes and heart issues are what is fueling the discord and drama in our house.  It is so much easier to know what is wrong than rectify the wrong.  I know that my heart is not at rest and that much of that is about my own refusal to rest and abide.

I often pray Matthew 11:28 for my husband at this time of the year.  He often seems to need prayers connected to being weary.  And so I pray, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  for him.  But I found myself praying those words for myself the other night.   As I looked up the whole passage, I took the time to read the remaining verses, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Rest from weariness is somehow connected to tapping into Jesus' gentleness, a quality that has been quite lacking in my heart lately.  

As I dug in a bit more today, trying to get my heart situated, I read as someone shared how the difference between the words 'rest' and 'resist' is simply the letter 'I.'  Isn't that the truth?  I cannot find rest because I resist and it's mostly because I get in the way.  It reminds me of another saying I heard this week.  "Let go lest you be dragged."  Dragged is certainly an apt description of my last few weeks.  

Rest is such an enigma.  You cannot try harder and rest.  Physically, the harder you try to make yourself tired, the more likely it seems that you will stay awake.  Spiritually and emotionally, the same is true.  Trying harder will not produce a calmer spirit.  Resting is an action and yet it is not.  It is quiet reflection alongside some healthy deep sighs, letting go of some control in order to regain a gentle spirit.  Because turning a heart towards Jesus is less about willing the heart and more about the longing of a heart.



2 comments:

Kathy C. said...

Just remember that you don't have to do everything every day. Yeah, it's good to read to your kids, do certain activities with them, but try to let go of the need to do them all everyday. That's a hard thing for those of us who were teachers. And remember that "good enough" is okay on hectic days. It doesn't hurt anyone in the long run :) When mine were all young and it got crazy, I'd put on a 30 minute donut man or Veggie Tale movie and we'd all grab our pillows and have a "rest time" to let things settle down. Sometimes if the twins are out of control now, I set the timer for 15 minutes and everyone does an exercise--jumprope, excercise trampoline, treadmill. Me too.

Dardi said...

I have appreciated hearing from you regarding Kemeri's hand surgery. And this...yep. We are in a strange season of trying to re-learn resting and enjoying the normal busyness around us. Joe was in a doctoral program for the last 4 years, which is baffling as we try to understand exactly how we managed all the "balloons". Hope you find rest as you wait for the change in seasons.