God uses crazy times, like the one I am in now, to teach me hard lessons. He usually lets me observe something around me, experience it personally, and then He comes in hard with the one liner that drives home the truth. If I really need to see it, there is also a closer of some sort that seals the deal. This was one of those weeks.
I am sharing in this in hopes of encouraging those of you who feel similar pressures as I do and find yourself caught up in the demands of the world at the expense of those who matter most. Finding balance is hard and we need to stick together.
So here is how this lesson went.
The Observation -
If you haven't heard, we hit a crisis point a week ago. Our 3 year old daughter, who we thought was recovering beautifully from heart surgery, ended up having a massive pleural effusion and was admitted to the hospital for what could be weeks. I seriously panicked. Our schedules are already completely full. We did not have time for this. As a response to my panic, I started in with what my friend Debbie calls the motion pictures in our head.
The Experience -
Motion pictures are those perfect scenarios we create in our minds that are not reality and only leave us frustrated in the end. In my motion picture I was picturing who my mom would be in this moment if she were still living and could help me out. I needed her to be the kind of mom who would drop everything and come to my aid. I have friends with moms like that and I have always jealously observed that type of relationship.
My Academy-Award-quality motion picture played out like this - I would pick up the phone and call my mom with the report of what had happened. She would say something like, "Give me 30 minutes to clear my calendar and I will get on the road." She would then arrive to my house with frozen casseroles in hand (like Paige's mom). Then, while she was meeting the needs of my children, she would also find the time to tend to my flower beds and decorate my house for Christmas (like Rebecca's mom). She would impart great wisdom to our souls and leave us all spiritually healthier for having been in her presence (like Keith's mom). I would be at the hospital in perfect peace knowing that my mom, who cherished her family above all else (and had crazy mom skills), had everything covered. It was a real Hallmark Channel original folks.
This time my longing (motion picture) turned to anger that she wasn't there and that role had been robbed from me. I told God what kind of mom I would be when my kids were older and needed me. I would be this mom I had observed who would again drop everything and serve their children in a moment's notice.
The Lesson -
Then with me crying while driving on 610, God went ahead and hit me with the truth- "How can you expect to be that kind of mom when your kids are older if you aren't a drop everything mom when they need you now?"
OUCH! (and a few other expletives)
It hurt, but it was true. I was responding to this crisis while trying to still figure out how I could fit everything else in. I was parenting my child, at their point of greatest need, from the demands of my to do list.
So I went home and sincerely prayed that God would show me how I was supposed to respond. In typical spiritual lesson fashion, His timing was perfect and He was about to bring in the closer.
I started Thursday with a 7 am report to my sports medicine job which would immediately be followed by a pediatric home health patient, a newborn shoot, piano lessons, AWANA at church, a soccer game, a late night switch at the hospital with my husband, and 2 more hours of editing beside a sleeping baby. Forget the fact that we are out of groceries and my big 3 had emotional needs that weren't being met. We had places to be and things to check off people!
The Closer -
As I was wrapping up item #1 on the list, my supervisor called me in and said, "I wanted to tell you that we are having some scheduling problems so we have decided that everyone with your status will now be required to work one Saturday a month."
Yep, in an instant it was clear that the job I loved, with coworkers I cherished, in a community I felt called to serve, was adding an item to my to do list in a non-negotiable time slot. Two weeks earlier I probably would have tried to figure out how to make it work, which is no doubt why God allowed it to be brought to my attention in that moment, as the closer.
I submitted my resignation to Methodist St. John on Friday. I had no choice if I was going to stop parenting from my to do list. I am still sad about it but also really hopeful for what God has next and how He is going to use this to bring about His (not my) purposes in my family.
I am still figuring this out and God is still teaching me, but I have a few observations from my journey thus far that I would love to share with the 10% of you who share in this struggle. :)
We can call this - Things to Consider When Trying To Avoid Parenting From Your To Do List 101:
1. To-do listing your kids is first a state of mind that then becomes a state of function.
There is no 3 step solution. It requires a paradigm shift to break the pattern.
2. Do you find your significance in your busyness?
This is a generational curse that I have observed in my family. We feel like the busier we are, the more significant we are. So we take on more and more until we are running ragged. I don't have any memories of my mom relationally but I sure can recite her resume to you for the number of times it was recited to me to describe her. That kind of measuring stick was passed down to me as a means of self-evaluation. I know, that's messed up. #WorkingOnThat
3. Do you have consistent moments to cherish the little things?
4. Love and hurry cannot coexist (John Ortberg- The Life You've Always Wanted ch. 5).
5. Changing this pattern may require giving up things that you enjoy in exchange for the priority of your family.
6. Ask yourself, does my to-do list own me?
7. Changing this pattern may require financial sacrifice.
8. Are your priorities motivated by your desire to please your peers?
Had I said yes to working Saturday mornings, I would have placed my desire to please my supervisor over the needs of my family. That's what we call "no bueno."
9. When you step out in faith to align your priorities with God's calling, He always takes care of you.
We have seen this with our adoptions, family moves, and many other moments where we made a decision that terrified us but we knew was right. It's the truth folks and as much as we would like confirmation on the front end, that first step of faith is critical.