True Confessions

I have never read True Confessions or anything like it, but I have a confession to make. Last Saturday morning, I threw a temper tantrum. If I thought for a second I could have gotten away with it, I would have thrown myself down and kicked my legs and pounded on the floor. Since I couldn’t do that, I wrinkled up my face and hissed out my frustrations. I fumed and fussed and let it all out.

And what was I so upset about? Well, my balloon had burst.

Not literally, of course. You see, I had some expectations that I now realize were unrealistic, and when everything didn’t work as I had planned, I felt like a balloon recklessly whizzing around as the air sprays out.

Before we moved, I had it all planned out in my head that we would get here and as we unpacked, everything would be organized and put into its place. I expected that fewer belongings and a new living space and all my plans for organization would result in a tidy, neat home. Of course, I did not factor in the children unpacking some of their own things and ignoring my organization plans. I did not factor in that we’d have to live a normal life with playing and eating and wearing clothes and having day-to-day chores to do all while we’re unpacking and organizing. I did not factor in that all of our personalities would stay the same, and none of us seem to be super organized or neat, by nature.

So when reality crashed into my expectations last Saturday morning, my balloon was pricked and went whooshing all over the apartment, spewing blame and frustration all over its path.

And though I did have some valid complaints, I now realize that I elevated my expectations and plans to god-like status. My expectations for organization and neatness got out of balance; and, in that moment, became more important that my relationship with my children and husband. In my moments of frustration, I foolishly regretted the way I had spent some of my time since our move — time I spent playing games with the children, loving on them, taking them to the park, baking with them, helping them adjust to their world being turned upside-down. Really, I know that spending my time doing those things was far more important than unpacking and organizing. It just took me a while to take those thoughts of frustration captive to the truth.

My temper tantrum is what happens when my plans get unbalanced. When I expect myself to fit into some standard that God never planned for me. When I compare myself to other moms, other wives, magazine articles, Martha Stewart . . . whatever. Of course I’m going to get frustrated and want to scream! I’m attempting something completely unrealistic, unfair, impossible . . . ridiculous!

And though I’d love to tell you that I’m mastering this tendency to compare myself to an ideal, I must confess that I did it again yesterday. This is a lesson I will probably learn again and again and again. I’m sort of slow that way.

Some days, I will get all the laundry folded and the dishes washed and dinner in the crock pot hours in advance and still have time to play twenty rounds of Don’t Break The Ice. Some days, I will have the snack ready when the children get home from school, and they’ll quickly and cheerfully do their chores and finish their homework. Some days, all my charts and lists and plans will pull together and the schedule will click and life will be perfect. Aaaaaah. And it will feel good and like all is well in the world. But other days, the children will throw clothes on the floor and write on the walls and dump all the toys on the floor, and the car will break down, and I’ll dump an entire carton of eggs in the hall, and tired children will throw temper tantrums. Other days, people who don’t know me at all may jump to conclusions about me, and I might feel inferior and like I don’t measure up. My child may scream at the top of his lungs in a store or fail a test or burp in class. And on those days, I will be tempted to scream and fuss and feel like a total failure. But I don’t think that’s what God wants for us.

God doesn’t expect perfection from me. He wants me to love Him and other people. And maybe, just maybe, He doesn’t always want my life to go according to the charts and schedules. Maybe the interruptions are Divine Interruptions. And maybe the relationships I can build are more important than the tasks to be done. And maybe the expectations I have for myself are only those I’ve made for myself and not at all what my Father expects from me. And maybe the point is that I learn to love God and other people, and -more importantly- act like I love God and other people, in the middle of all my plans and schedules and charts and lists falling apart.

I heard recently that D.L. Moody would pray every day before he got out of bed, before he even moved from his waking spot. And in that prayer, he would give God all of himself — Lord, I give you my eyes, please help me to see what You want me to see today. And Lord, I give you my ears, please help me to hear from You today. And I give you my mouth, please fill it with Your words and help me to speak only what You want me to say. And on he would go, giving all of himself to the Lord each day. I think I need to do more of this. Purposefully giving myself to God and becoming more aware of His plans for me each day. Sacrificing my own expectations and plans. Trading them for His perfect purpose for my day.

Now, excuse me while I go ignore some dirty dishes and cuddle with an adorable 3 year old.

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9 Comments

Filed under Christianity, faith, Family, motherhood

9 responses to “True Confessions

  1. thequeenmommy

    AMAZING! I can completely relate to this. I am right there with you – needing to die to myself daily. Thank you for writing this – it is a necessary reminder of PURPOSE as a wife & mom!

  2. I had a similar “tantrum” almost 3 years ago. We purchased a house with an unfinished basement. We commited to finishing it when we had the time and treasures. My husband has the talent. He does a majority of the work. All I do is paint. Anyway, in my mind, the basement was done in 18-months and everything was put away, a place for everything and everything in its place.

    We bought our house in spring 2003. The basement is still only partially finished. There are boxes still to be unpacked. Every once in awhile I need something out of one of those boxes and I get cranky…

    You see when we have treasures, my husband is traveling and earning a ton of overtime, so he doesn’t have time. When he has time and work has been slow, we don’t have treasures. Everything would be just perfect if I could clone my husband. Wait ~ let’s not do that! 🙂

  3. One of the main reasons I keep coming back to your blog is the honesty and real transparency you exhibit. Thank you for that, it is so refreshing.

    I too can relate to wanting things my way. This morning my plans were to get to work and follow my normal pattern. Instead I spent 45 minutes on the side of the freeway dealing with the state patrol and a tow truck, and I had to humble myself to explain to my co-workers that it was due to lack of gas. My time, money, and emotional/mental resources have now been taxed in a way I didn’t plan. This morning in my quiet time I asked God what he wanted me to do today and he said “learn to just be in my presence and rest”. So, when I was stuck waiting with no place to go I have to admit there was a fight between my agenda, and what God might be wanting me to learn today. He hadn’t left me with many options to fight him today. 🙂

  4. 🙂 Sherie, I’ve been there. Figuratively and literally.

    When I was stuck on the side of the road without any gas, I had been sick much of the morning and looked horrible, my husband was out of town and couldn’t help, and I was on my way to pick up my girls and another girl from school. When I called my husband to tell him what had happened, he kindly said, “If you want, I can be in charge of making sure we have gas in the cars from now on.” And I said, “That would be the problem. I thought you already were doing that.” ha ha ha ha I’m laughing now, but I wasn’t laughing then.

    I think God has much to teach us and, often, opportunities for sharing Him in the interruptions of life.

  5. And Julie, I can certainly empathize with unfinished living spaces. But I won’t get into that now. 🙂

  6. Actually, Julie, I will say this. At one point, I made an intentional decision to stop complaining and nagging about it because I’d rather have a happy marriage and good relationship with my husband than a finished room. And I knew my husband wasn’t avoiding the responsibility out of maliciousness or in order to hurt me. He was overwhelmed with normal life, same as I was.

  7. Linda

    Jennifer, I’ve been reading your blog since you sent me your updated info and I just had to respond to this message. On many levels we are so alike, but also so different. I’ve always been one to set high expectations (too high my husband would say) and then get disappointed when everyone else didn’t cooperate with me. And definitely, I’m one to get so involved in my plan that I totally ignore everyone else. I’m trying to be more flexible these days. I’m also reading a great book given to me for my birthday by Michele W. that she and I believe every woman in America should read: Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. I am learning to be content with what my Blessed God puts before me each day – the interruptions, the relationships, the messes, the pain. And I’m learning not to complain in the midst of them. It’s really a wonderful book filled with biblical truths about how we should live every moment of our lives. In your spare time 🙂 you should read it.
    We too are on a decluttering and organizing jaunt at our house; getting to and getting rid of things we should have taken care of 2 1/2 years ago when we moved in. Fortunately, my whole family is involved in the process and is all for it. It was actually “Clean Sweep” Sarah’s idea, so that helps. We are spending 15 minutes per day working on a specific small area with an overall goal to get through the house in 10 weeks. I’m amazed at what we can do in that short amount of time. And doing it together really helps us talk about ….this is the place for all the dog’s stuff or this is where you should put coats you don’t wear every day, etc… (of course it’s easy to do after 2 years, I’m thinking it could be tough after you’ve just moved in to know what the best place is for everything). Anyway, I’ve even given it a code name to make it seem fun – CCC and OO (also known as C cubed and O squared) which stands for Clutter Clearing Campaign and Operation Organization. So don’t get discouraged, get everyone on board, and spend just a little time every day working together to make your new home into that efficient, organized space that you want it to be (without letting it rule your life).
    I’m loving your blog and had no idea you were such a talented writer. I’ve been very touched by many of your messages and have even been brought to tears. Thank you for being a blessing to me through your words and encouragement!

  8. I can relate too! I throw tantrums regularly, being the volatile sort of temperament that I am. (Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses. *wink*) Seriously, when I don’t start my day out with God, I spend most of the day without seeking Him, just trying to do everything without His help. I love the prayer from D.L. Moody. To pray, and so purposefully too!, before you even get out of bed, and devote your whole being to God’s service — that has to be the best way to start your day!

  9. Linda, thank you for the comments. I’m glad you decided to chime in. 🙂 And that book sounds wonderful. Right now, I’m reading a fun book and working on a Bible study book. I also have two more books on-deck that a friend just sent me (thanks, Vickie!). But I do still have money on a Barnes & Noble gift card, so I may have to order that book.

    Lisa, isn’t that the greatest prayer? It makes me want to read a biography of Moody.

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