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.