Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A work in progress, very slooow progress.

I believe I owe the sweet, sweet people who read this blog an apology. Apparently my dramatic late-night ruminations have led some of my loved ones to fear I may be on the verge of driving the ol'minivan off a cliff. The simple truth is that I am just overwhelmed by the responsibilities in my life right now. I doubt there is a mother, a woman even, in America that doesn't feel this way from time to time. Right now, I need to be meticulously organized just to keep my head above water. Me, for whom organization is the great white whale of my existence. And so things are slipping. Lots of things. And I have fallen into a bout of self-hatred induced melancholia. It's not a new place for me. Nor is it a particularly useful one.

It's hard at these times not to wish I was someone different. Someone who doesn't frantically try to locate school forms the morning (or the morning after) they are due. Someone who always remembers doctor's appointments and to wash the orange shirt for "orange day." Someone who actually knows where the hair bow is that matches Clara's apple dress. Someone who's husband never has to say "I'm out of clean socks. Again."

Our verse for September in preschool and in 3-year-old-choir happens to be the same one: Psalms 139:14 "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Lately I have been thinking of that verse a lot. The whole verse actually reads:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I praise my God for my husband. I praise my God for my children. For my friends, for the weather, for watermelons and rainclouds and strong coffee. I look for reasons to praise Him every single day. But I feel certain I have never offered Him a single acclamation for the wonderful way he made me. Because - probably like a lot of people - I spend a lot of energy wishing He had made me differently.

But He didn't. This has been my personality, these have been my shortcomings, for as long as I can remember. For some reason (and I really would like to discuss this with Him) He designed me - knitted me together - to be this flighty, emotional, undisciplined mess. Well, OK, the mess part may have been my addition but I was undisciplined and disorganized at age 5. I'm sure of it.

Which leads me to believe that God can use me for His glory just the way he created me. That, in fact, I should be offering praises for being fearfully and wonderfully made. Praises that he can take not-nearly-enough-me right where I am and use me despite of, or maybe even because of, my flaws. Because God, he's not just in the habit of molding pots. He also the maker of the clay. Lumpy and ugly and hard to handle, but with a potential only he can see.

Hmmm... It's an amazing thought.

And now, I wish I could end this post with a divine revelation on how exactly God is going to do this in my life. But honestly, I got nothin'. I'm still tired and overwhelmed and I don't see that changing in the near future. And, I'm still a bit down because of it. So for now, I'm just going to keep doing what I am doing: Trying to get organized. Praying that God will help me keep these balls in the air or maybe just give me permission to drop one.

But I do feel like I have learned something. That I may have taken a step away from my old home in the land of comparison and self loathing and towards a place of hope. And I believe that those small steps are really what this journey is all about.

So fear not friends I won't be slitting my wrists with that tardy permission slip any time soon. Besides, I couldn't...I have no idea where it is.


Leslie said...

Great summation! I can completely relate today. Pray for me and I'll pray for you.

Wendy said...

We talked in Sunday School one time about how easy it is to pray for everyone else but so hard to pray for yourself. It's like it would make you egotistical or something. But you are one of God's creations and if you can lift others up in prayer, why not yourself, too? Take care!

Lori said...

Okay, that last line made me laugh out loud. You are brilliant at finding the humor in even the most humorless situations. That is most certainly a God-given gift!

I am with you. I can easily praise God for my children, my husband, my friends, my plants that somehow manage to grow in spite of my inattention etc... But me?? That's harder.

Recently though, I have had this revelation that when Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was to "love your neighbor as yourself" he was reminding us that we really are supposed to love ourselves! If we are own worst critics, if we are unforgiving of ourselves and hold impossible standards for our own behavior, how good are we going to be at loving anyone else? I have really been trying to work on that... but I share your struggle.

Karen said...

you, my friend, are a creative, intuitive, spontaneous person. Right now you exhibit this in your family relationships because that's where most of your time is spent. These amazing qualities are wonderful gifts to offer your family & our world (and often do not come hand in hand with great admin skills.) trust me, this I know for sure. I used to think I'd get better at that type of mom stuff, but now I know the truth. I am doing my best - and it is just not as good as other people's in this one area.

Kathryn said...

What a perfect post. You are helping people simply by being you. And in that way you are doing God's work.
Thank you for this wonderful reminder. I think we all need to hear it once in a while. I know I do.
Hang in there!

*pab said...

perhaps He is trying to teach you how to give yourself permission to let a ball drop, and permission to be okay with it...

Chrissy said...

I love this post. Perfect timing.

Kyla said...

Well, I didn't think you'd be driving the minivan off a cliff anytime soon...you just sounded weary and in need of a spot of encouragement is all.

The tardy slip line was perfection. Just like you, Joy.

Epiphany Alone said...

omgoodness, how interesting this post this week. I met with my pastor about feeling completely overwhelmed. He basically said I should come to church to receive for a while, and allow that to be a place in my life where my presence is enough. I said "I have to demonstrate that I am worthy to be here", and you know it gets back to that same struggle of self love.
Last week's sermon's take away point was that we are loved deeply and passionately by our Maker. I laughed at that because, of course we are - just as we love our children and so often we delight in their imperfections because that's what makes them them. How silly of me that I didn't see before that our heavenly father might also laugh delightedly to see me trying to study flash cards at Lauren's soccer practice while keeping Lindsay from knocking down the other toddlers. I wonder if He thinks, Oh that Heather...when will she learn?

nutmeg said...

I wasn't worried... Life is too good.

painted maypole said...

wonderfully made, indeed. it is hard to see ourselves that way, and yet easy to see it in relation to others, such as how I can see it in you - not even having met you! ;)

it's a great place to return to, even if it's the only solid rock you have. what better rock, really?

Beck said...

Well, you're like me - I never know where anything is, I forget to sign hand-outs from school and my kids don't wear matching socks. But I'm also enthusiastic and loving and fun and honestly interested in their meandering stories and I'll bet that you're exactly the same way. Which is to say, a really good mom.

Laurel Wreath said...

I relate to this post to well, could have written it myself. Enjoyed reading this.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of the FlyLady? She has helped me (when I have actually done what she recommends).www.flylady.com or www.flylady.net. I am not a BO(born organizer) as the Flylady calls them, but a SHE (side-tracked home executive). Her routines help me make sense of the chaos in my life. (CHAOS-Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome);D There are many of us out here, Joy. We feel your pain and are right there with you, sister. A thought from my therapist. If I can't find it in my self to love ME enough to take care of me, then take care of my children's mother and my husband's wife. I find it easier to do for myself that way. I am sure that you are a good mom and wife. Your family will remember the time you spent actively involved with them and that matters more than a drawer full of clean socks and recovered papers, anyday.
Laura- Paige Biagi's aunt