10 November 2016

Die, Self

I think I’ve entered the most physically and mentally demanding season of motherhood that I have yet experienced. My youngest just turned one. One year olds are pretty high on the cuteness chart and VERY high on the daily needs and attention-demanding chart. Productivity plummets big time for me when I have a one year old. Mental processes also decline (please see this post, which is very true for me again in this season, five years after I wrote it).

On top of the one year old, I have a high-energy and spunkified three year old. And two big kids who have many of their own needs. And an apartment and a husband and I don’t live in my home country and my husband travels a lot and blah blah blah. Basically everyone needs a piece of Mama and what else is new.

This is the case for so so many Mamas out there and I know I’m not special and I’m not complaining at all. This is the season I’m in and most of the time, I’m fine with it. I know that I have to make some mental adjustments when I have a one year old, so I’ve done that and we’re good.

However, sometimes I do find myself EXTREMELY challenged. I few years ago I made a conscious effort to strike the phrase “I’m so frazzled” (which seemed to accurately describe how I was/am often feeling)  from my vocabulary and replace it with “I’m challenged”. A challenge is a chance to persevere, an opportunity to grow. “Frazzled” makes me feel that I am a victim to my circumstances and that I do not have the ability to rise above. I am not a victim and I DO have the ability to rise above.

Aaaaanyway…

A few weeks ago Mike was traveling. I was solo parenting and it was the evening clean-up-dinner-get-four-kids-in-bed-one-by-one time. The house was a disaster zone, the baby was fussy, Lil’ A was slow to obey and the big kids needed help with various un-ending things. And by dinner time, this Mama is usually pretty wiped from the day. But I still had a couple hours of very hands-on time left with my kiddos before I could take a breather. I felt there was just not enough of me to go around.

At times like these I often have thoughts like this float through my head…

This is just too hard and I can’t do this!”

“Why does Mike leave me with four kids alone?” (BTW, I always send him off with my heart-felt blessing. Traveling in this way is part of who he is and what God has called him to do and I delight in seeing him do that! Oh the irony of my evil thoughts after he’s gone…)

“WHAT IN THE #@*% AM I DOING LIVING HERE?!”

You get the idea.

But this night, it was different.

You see, I’ve been reading a book called “The Switch on Our Brain” as well as Beth Moore’s “Living Beyond Yourself” (as you heard about recently) and also “Unoffendable”. And the main points are lining up for me (I hear you, God!!) Those points are that…

We have the power to overcome our negative thoughts through decision-making and THEREFORE the power to change our daily thought patterns.

We have this power…

1. If we are followers of Jesus who have the Holy Spirit

and

2. Because of the way our remarkable God created our brains in all their biological and chemical and other sciency things amazingness…

I don’t know if you’re tracking.  I don’t know if I’m tracking!?

What I’m saying is that we are NOT slaves to sin (in this case… a bad ‘tude, like we’re always yelling at our kids about. Hypocrite much? Ack.)

Not being a slave to sin is not new news to me (or maybe to you)… but for me, it’s application in this very particular part of my life IS new. I am not stuck forever in damaging thought patterns of resentment and pity parties. I am not chained to negative responses even when circumstances seem to  deem them appropriate. (According to the world and my sinful nature). I have a choice to make.

------

As humans, our ‘default’ setting is to have the negative response (“I should not have to work this hard!”), the sinful thought  (This is not fair, no one is helping me and the kids aren’t listening!!”), the selfish ambition (“I deserve a break right now because I’ve worked so hard today!”).

I very often find my thoughts pulled in this direction because the enemy is at work in the world and I’m a sinful human.

BUT

Greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Glory!

God has the power to overcome the pull toward sin and the pull toward self-serving thoughts. And God IS IN ME.

-----

So… that evening, when I felt frustrated with my children and my circumstances… a brand new phrase slipped through my lips…

Die, self”

… I whispered outloud to myself  as I picked up yet another dirty sock from the floor that somehow got covered with sand, AGAIN.

I said it because of this:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  (Luke 9:23)

and

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:34)

Sometimes those verses sound so fancy and spiritual and stuff. But in that moment God showed me how to actually do that in my circumstances.

 

“Die, self” to remind myself that as a follower of Jesus, that I myself am not my main concern. My needs can wait.

Die, self” to remind myself that it is my flesh that wants me to get frustrated with my children. I don’t want to follow that pull of the enemy.

“Die, self” because the Holy Spirit in me can bring me an extra dose of patience and joy if I just give Him a chance. Boy do I need that extra dose in those times.

AND IT WORKED.

So I kept doing it.

Most days, I tell myself to die at one point or another. Sound weird? Yeah, I suppose. But who am I, anyway? Do I have a right at 6pm sharp to lay on the couch and watch a movie or catch up on Facebook just because I’ve already been working all day? And more importantly… does that ‘right’ I have to rest after I’ve already been working so hard mean that my children deserve to have their Mama raise her voice at them when they haven’t done anything wrong and make them feel bad as they climb into bed at night? Yuck. I don’t want to do that.

*

Who am I anyway? That a half an hour standing in the grocery line is a such a waste of precious time to me and should so negatively affect my attitude?

It’s an opportunity for me to die. I want to grow, so I choose joy.

*

Who am I anyway? That someone cutting me off on the road should give me anger toward this country I call home?

It’s an opportunity for me to die. I want to grow, so I choose love.

*

Who am I anyway? That my child forgot to empty their lunchbox AGAIN and I’m going to be so offended by that?

It’s an opportunity for me to die. I want to grow, so I choose grace.

*

Who am I anyway, that one of my children wants to tell me a very long story when all I want to do is get up and finish all these day-end tasks that lie ahead of me and that’s so much more important than listening to my excited daughter?

It’s an opportunity for me to die. I want to grow (and not scar my daughter), so I choose patience.

*

The straight forward way to deal with all these things is this:

It is to forget myself.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am so terrible at this. This is actual fighting against the flesh. Many times I don’t want to forget myself. Many times I get angry and impatient and have no joy in my responses. But sometimes I do choose to die. (It is a choice). And that’s progress. And I honestly do feel a difference in my mothering. And the more I do it, the more it will become habit, because that’s how God created our brains to work.  That is so satisfying. Praise be to God who makes mental changes like this possible!

Also, it’s important to note, that if you know me, you know I am not a pushover (Ha! that makes me laugh just thinking about it!) You also know that I do know how to properly care for myself. I am not running myself into the ground taking care of everyone with no boundaries and letting everyone take advantage of me. Nope, that’s not me AT ALL. And that shouldn’t be you either.

But still, I want to forget myself. I want to die.

I want to put my hands to this cyclical and high-demand work of a mother that God has given me without having every task and word drip with resentment if things didn’t go just my way. I want God to grow me and use me to mold and shape my children into little humans who also are able to deny themselves and serve others patiently and with joy. I want to forget myself as Jesus forgot Himself. Jesus died so that I would have this VERY ability to deny myself and LIVE BY THE SPIRIT. Wow, what a remarkable gift.

Die, self. Because I want to truly live.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...