When our children were little we were tired and exhausted at the end of long days and weeks that all seemed to bleed together. We were sleep deprived from late night feedings and the physicality of taking care of babies. From changing diapers and bathing little ones, to lugging around a heavy car seat and a bulky double stroller, no one would argue that it is a physically exhausting task. I even developed carpal tunnel in my left wrist from the way I held my daughter while feeding her. Of course there are decisions to be made that feel big, ( and are!!) decisions about how to make them eat there veggies, nap, share and conduct themselves on play dates. I am sure we would all agree that the hardest part about little ones, is how physically draining it can be. I have been thinking lately about a conversation with a good friend years ago who, at the time, had two teenagers. We asked him, ( with hope filling our eyes!) if it “got any easier”. In reflective hind site he said, “It doesn’t get any easier, it becomes a different kind of hard.”My boys at 6 and 7 can care for themselves physically and I do not feel the bone tiredness of caring for little ones anymore. The new exhaustion I feel is due to raising a teen and a tween now 13and 11. My girls are fabulous and the loves of my life! I love being with them and am honored to be their mom, but often my parenting experience feels like worry at it’s best and gut wrenching heart ache at it’s worst and I feel emotionally and spiritually exhausted. The heart experiences joy at all your babies firsts, first tooth, first smile and first words. But with the teen and the tween all the firsts seem a bit terrifying. The first day of middle school, first time riding the bus. and first dance, just to name a few and soon there will be a first date and a first kiss and even driving??? My heart can barely stand it!!!! A few sucker punches to my soul as of late, that only a teen can deliver right to the heart, have left my heart heavy and confused. It also made me painfully aware that life does not always wait for me to catch my breath, when my two little men, oblivious to it all, come through the door in need of snacks and attention. For a moment I put aside emotions and smile through the pain remembering that conversation with our old friend and think, “Physical tiredness would be easier than this!”My tween arrives home, looks at my face and says “Mommy you look sad.” She hugs me and I hug her tight, wanting to encapsulate her innocent nature and pure heart. I want to freeze her at this age and at this moment in time. I am reminded that God does not want us to be sad or to worry.
Today, I listened to my husband teach the word of God in our Sunday school class, and worshiped the Lord during service. I gave thanks for the truth of God and His presence in my life. I clung to every word on every page, I sang louder and prayed fervently. These things all lessen emotional pain for me and I feel like I can breath again. I am thankful that over the years I have committed so much scripture to memory and I begin to rattle it off to my self like Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz. “There’s no place like home there’s no place like home”. Except for me it is scripture. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I can do all things” (opening one eye to see if it is has come true or anything has changed). “If God is for me, who then shall be against me?” “Train a child up in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it… train a child up….”
Tired from a week long emotional wrestling match with my teen, I gather myself and decide not to take it personally but to focus on the true enemy and to fight back with the word of God in my hand and in my heart. The Bible tells me that the devil is “Roaming around like a lion seeking someone to devour and his goal is to kill steal and destroy.” So, exhausted and mad, I fight like Nehemiah. I build my house with one hand and fight off the enemy with the other. I will fight for the souls of my children. I scream “NO DEVIL!!! you can not have them. They are mine!!” They are God’s and I will let the Lord empty me of everything I have every day for these 5 people. When I am tired, emotionally or physically, I ask the Lord to find more in me, “Wring me out like a wet towel, like a tube of toothpaste, find me more so I can pour it out for ‘these’ “. At the end of the day God has entrusted me with these children for the short time we are here on earth and I will hold them up before Him, giving Him back what is His anyway. I am praying for physical, mental and emotional strength to get through the days and weeks, months and years. I need to steady myself, find the Lord as my “plum bob” if you will, hanging on to every thing I know to be true, so I can press on. I don’t have a choice. I get the joy of building and fighting and protecting, growing and pruning and guiding. The ultimate in multi tasking. A different kind of hard. Which is why I am holding fast to the word of God. Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, dwell on such things. Why? To encourage my heart, renew my strength, and then fight the good fight. I will continually ask God to fill me up again for yet another day, to fulfill this great calling. It is only by His grace that I can count it all joy!