Watching her, in my teenage smugness, I thought, “I will never
be like that! She is a stay-at-home Mom, what in the world does she
have to be stressed about?” I am here to confess that I am there. I have, as in so many other things, become much like Mother in this as well. I try to tell myself that these things don’t have eternal significance. That people just want to feel welcome in my home and do not notice if I have dusted the top of my television cabinet. That this need to be “perfect” is nothing but pride and should be rooted out. There is some section of me, that thinks at least part of my motives are worthy. Those would be that I enjoy thinking about who my guests are and what would make them feel special. For some that may be fine china, for others it might be a particular CD playing in the background, or funny little theme (like airplanes on a runway Whit and Cole :)) as the centerpiece of our table. Whatever it may be, I take joy in trying to create an atmosphere that will, hopefully, make my guests feel special.
Is it bad to devote an entire day (or sometimes two if you count the grocery store trip and pre-cleaning the day before) to having company for dinner? Is it bad that I plop my children in front of movies and ignore their pleas to play with them because I am “stressed” and trying to make things perfect? Is it bad that I end up cursing this old house because no matter how hard I scrub it never actually looks or feels clean? Is it bad that I shy away from having people over (even though I know I would enjoy the fellowship immensely) because all I can think about is those days of hard labor and tight neck muscles beforehand?
While I have not had a lot of events at my house over the past few months, I have had a lot of events. To the point where I looked at Jeremiah last Thursday and said, “I think I’m about to have a nervous breakdown.” It was not the most opportune time for a breakdown, considering he had a HUGE orthopaedic test the next day that he’d been preparing for for months, but you know, you just can’t help when you start to have a meltdown. I must say that he deserves some major credit for walking away from his test preparation, taking me to bed (at 8:30 at night!) and listening to me cry and vent every little detail that had led to my collapse. I know they must have sounded stupid to him who stands in an OR every day with lives in his hands, but he didn’t make me feel that way. What he made me feel was that no matter what, no matter what it cost, we were going to find a way for me to alleviate some of the impending stresses that were hanging over my head. Here, I have to give a standing ovation to my SIL Ashley and my sister Taylor and John David. They took my children for some long periods of time and have given me some time to feel like a human again and to think.
What I’ve come to is this. Some people just live life stressed. No matter what the occasion, no matter what life is dealing them, you know when you bump into them that they will have a long breathless list to rattle off to you about all that is on their plate. I am that person more than I would like to confess, and the hard thing to admit to yourself is that it’s not about what’s happening in your life as much as it’s about a state of mind. I find that if I can broaden my lens and remember that I am exactly where I’ve always wanted to be, doing the job that I’ve always wanted to do, then the little things start to pale in comparison. If I can remember Who is in control (even though I usually feel like He is chuckling at my need for deep cleanliness–just loving watching me learn a lesson about letting things go), then I can turn life’s problems over to somebody who can do something about them. Jeremiah’s Aunt Jeanie gave me an illustration one time that I have gone back to a lot. She said, “Abby, when you feel like there’s a whole forest in front of you that you have to chop down, and you look down to find that all you have is one little ax, then just know that God is on the other end of the forest with a bull-dozier, plowing it down. All He asks you to do is take care of one tree at a time.”
I am going to try to focus on those things, and let the little things go. I am going to pray that Jesus will change my heart, and teach me to live a life of freedom and beauty instead of stress and darkness.