Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Turning around....

Today is a sad day for me. I think it's a good day, though.

Today as we were walking in to school, my son walked a few steps ahead of me. When we hit the door, he headed up the steps, and didn't look back. Even when I said goodbye.
There had been no fight. He wasn't mad. I just realized he was cold. And tired. Of me.

Julia skipped on to class with me, oblivious, and I was thankful.
But the contrast was painful. And I cannot be oblivious.

I think 9 is too early for this. But so is 16. So is 21, and 37 and 54.
Culturally, we tell ourselves this is normal... part of growing up and growing independent. I even let some of those phrases try to reassure me. But I realize that's a lie. Growing up and growing cold aren't the same.

Twice in the last week, he's told me that he's really bothered when I point out all the bad things he's done, and don't point out the good things.
In the few hours I have with him each day, correction is a constant.
If things are going well... I'm just thankful .
I don't balance needed discipline with intentional encouragement.
I'm 'too tired' to be creative or fun... or do much of anything besides just 'get by'.

And I tell myself and my family that I'm doing 'all of this' so I can quit and homeschool our kids next year. At one point I was questioning how much damage from my attitude and this schedule could really be done in just 6 months. And then I realized how appalling it was that I was even asking that question.

Today is the day that I realize everybody else is right.
I've been talking to people about boundaries, and having few, in the name of ministry and in the name of accomplishing goals for my 'family'.
I talk about prioritizing, and haven't - in the name of ministry and family.
All the choices I have in front of me are good.... to not choose one of them... will not "feel" good.
From a heart standpoint... none of the tasks needed or the people behind them are worthy of disappointment. And burnout seems crazy to consider! I'm surrounded by wonderful people!
But that's the point. It's not everyone else's fault.
It's mine.
My passion for ministry changed to a passion of pleasing people. Or avoiding displeasing people. And I don't even have a good attitude about it anymore.
My ministry ... isn't about Jesus.
He had boundaries. He said no to people he loved. He worked hard, long hours. He rested and related to people. And his priority was always His Father.

My family has become a checklist of goals I'm working towards... but not living among.
Saying yes to everyone really isn't ministry at all. And putting my family last really isn't being a mom at all.

How many people have learned this lesson?

Friends have warned me I'm doing too much. But I thought they were wrong. I thought I was pretty strong. I knew it was just for a time.
But I didn't think about the strength of my kids.
Sure... I can hold up this crazy schedule.
But I expected them to go along.
And they do, compliantly, without choice. But not without affect.

How foolish of me. I hate being wrong - but I hate even more being foolish and prideful.
That image of Eli walking up the stairs and not looking back is now burnt into my heart.

Thank you God, for letting it sting. For letting me sob over this. THANK YOU!
Please forgive me for putting You and those You gave me last.
Please give me strength to say no, kindly, to others. Please heal if that 'no' hurts them.
Please give me wisdom to say yes only to what you call me to.
Help me not expend energy in things you didn't plan for me to do. I've done way too much of that.
Help me watch more for what You desire for me to do. Help me turn my drivenness over to you. I believe it is from you, but not always reigned by you.

And please help me now to heal the messages I've sent to my son and to others.
You know how to communicate love. Help me watch You. Closely. Remind me that it's the most important endeavor- to learn from and to emulate You.

That, Father, .....Your love... helps us grow up, but not cold.


Linda L said...

Heather, your post really struck a chord with me. The struggle of doing things to attain a profitable goal is worthy, but as you stated it can have its drawbacks. It's so hard to find the balance, especially when we're doing it to accomplish a good thing. When it comes to our children, we have them for such a short time then they're gone. I know from experience how much it hurts our heart when we know we've let them down. But rest assured, our children are so much like our Father when it comes to forgiving us when we mess up. I'll be praying that God will show you in a truly neat way how much He loves you and that He will honor your intention. I haven't read your posts in a long time, but I think I'll keep you on my favorites from now on. Love you-

Timbra said...

thank you for how raw this is. . . and what a reminder. moms seem to just go go go, especially moms in ministry. we often forget our babies come first and we have a hard time saying no to others. thank you for the reminder as well as your desire to love your babies and our Father more deeply. i try to remember and live by the reminder that my first ministry is my child(ren) and that if in my life I can see her come to our Father and have a relationship with Him, that is enough, I do not need to "convert" hundreds of others and sacrifice her. . . . I'm sorry that a painful moment brought this to light, but I'm so proud to call you sister and friend and know that your heart is so tender towards your children and God that you would allow this to be a moment of change instead of hardening. you are such an encouragement to me. Lots of love

Cindy said...

Hang in there friend. It is hard as our kids get older and want more independence. It is also harder since we both have sons that need so much social training, so it seems like we are always training/correcting them. You are a GOOD mommy.

neecie said...

I was browsing blogs and low and behold I realized this was you. I know I will enjoy your blog. Didn't realize you guys were in OK. Didn't know if you still kept in touch with Dr. Devine. I will keep reading. Denise Finley-UMC

Brenda said...

I had some thoughts when I read this. Hopefully I don't delete all of them this time! LOL

Growing older is just a part of the life process. Growing up is optional! Everyone gets older, but growing up is our ability to implement "change" in our lives. And that is what we want for our children. They have to be able to experience that for themsleves. Sure, we could change it for them, but what would they learn? They would learn how to control the actions of others and later in life find it hard to think for themselves because moms like us love them so much that we don't like for them to struggle.

How many times a day do we as adults need correcting? How hard are we on ourselves? Does God give us correction? Sure! All the time. Does God point out the good things? Yep! But how often do we see it? When things are going downhill for us, how often do we stop and look at how God praised us for the day? Most of the time, we don't. Until we MAKE ourselves do it. Not always, but that's what I see myself doing.

I recall when I had to go to work for over a year and miss out on the things I love. LIKE CHURCH! I said "I'm doing this for my family" but realized my attitude started to diminish and I was resenting it. I didn't like my job, I didn't like my kids, and I didn't like who I was becoming.

Boundaries helped bring me back to reality. God inteneded for us to use boundaries. He gives us boundaries and expects us to have them for ourselves. However can we have balance in our lives? If we don't have balance, and we don't have boundries, then we find time for what we call "necessary" things and we find less time to spend time with our Father. (not saying you do that...but a pattern I found in myself)
Boundaries can give a person integrity!

Many years ago I went from being the girl who did it doing NOTHING at all. It was all or nothing! And all those thoughts you put about all those task you do.....are the same thoughts I had. When i finally died to the fact that I didn't have to do it all, I started to take on responsibility again and feeling better about it. But I still say NO. I say NO to lots of things. I only volunteer for the things that I really really love to do AND what I have time for.

You are a 110% woman and you give all of yourself in everything you do. Work, family, kids, friends, church, teaching, leading, loving, life...etc! How can you split your time up so that you have time for God, Family, You, and your friends and still be content with who you are? Setting boundaries will help you in that. Being a grown up is so hard! We have to make decisions to say NO to things we really want to say YES to so that we can say YES to what is most important to us in the end.

Don't hate being wrong! Love being wrong! We learn from experineces like this. And that image may be burned in your heart forever, but what you do with that is what Eli will remember. You could sit back and not change....and he will remember. You could set boundaries for yourself and show him what it's like to love yourself enough that you will sacrifice for him. Wait! I think we have a pretty good visual burned into our hearts of someone doing that for us! ;o)

I love you!
I love your heart!
And I love to see you grow! We're never too old to grow up!

Hannah said...

Wow. thanks for sharing Heather. I'm not a mom so I don't fully understand that aspect of your heart felt words, but I definately understand all the things we have going on and not being able to say no and then not having enough time for your Father and wanting to please people so that too affects your choices and it's a huge mess. You are right on in giving it to God. He alone can take that mess and make it into a beautiful, complete picture.
I love you so much! The way you let God change you in the trials that life brings us, and how you let his glory shine through's an inspiration to me.
I love your heart. I'll be praying for you.