a culture of scarcity.
Around 4:45 a.m. my son wakes me up. "I had an accident," he says moping. I get out of bed, clean him up, realize the accident was caught in time and one trip to the bathroom will fix things. No need to change sheets or have him sleep in my bed this morning.
I'm so thankful.
But after I put him back to bed, my daughter wakes up. She's sleeping in the living room these days for a few reasons: 1. Her bassinet fits there and when she grows out of it, her playpen will fit there too. 2. I don't hear every peep and can sleep through the night unlike the first few weeks of her life when she "slept" in our room. 3. She doesn't have her own room.
It's funny [or rather, scary] how quickly my I'm-so-thankful thought disappears.
So I feed her early. Five a.m. isn't that much different than 5:30 a.m. but it throws off our schedule quite a bit throughout the day. Today she isn't asleep at the same time the 1-year-old I watch is asleep. I can't exercise in peace. Instead I exercise in pieces. Kettlebell swings. STOP. Fix the pacifier so she doesn't keep crying. Kettlebell swings. STOP. Fix the pacifier again. Repeat and repeat again.
I find myself frustrated. Frustrated that my son woke up, frustrated that I had to wake up early. Frustrated that I fed her early. Frustrated that I then did not wake up when I needed to in order to help Andrew get to work. Frustrated that we have no extra money to finish our upstairs so we can give each child his/her own room. Frustrated because I think, "Something's gotta give." And then I think, "I've thought that for too long. I keep thinking something's gonna give, but nothing does!" And the list could go on and on. Then I think of what I've just read. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. One of the first things that smacked me in the face was the idea that we live in a scarcity culture. We live in a culture that says we never have enough, we never sleep enough, we never are enough, our jobs are never good enough, our paycheck never big enough, our family never pretty enough, etc. And I thought about my house. How I wake up every morning annoyed at how it's not big enough for our two kids.
So today I started thinking: What if my house is enough? What if I started to really believe that? What projects do we actually need to do to get my brain thinking that way? Do I need to do any? I have little index cards of poverty statistics around my kitchen to give me perspective because I had a few breakdowns last year when we kept thinking we'd be able to fix up our kitchen but then weren't able to. (Our 1940s, wood-paneled kitchen has very little counter top space and the counter tops themselves are too low to the ground to install a dishwasher. Even if we had the $600 to buy a dishwasher, which we don't, we couldn't use it anyway.) Maybe I need some more anti-scarcity index cards around my house to help me see my daily problems in a new light. The reality is, stuff doesn't change who we are. It may change how we operate, but it cannot touch our insides. If I had a dishwasher, I'd have more time to _____________. Ideally, play with my children or write more. But I know myself: if I had a dishwasher, I'd have more time to do other chores.
So today I say:
My house is enough.
My job is enough.
My children are fabulous.
My husband is wonderful.
I am a good wife and a good mom, whether:
I have a two-bedroom house or a three-bedroom one
I have a job that I use the skills I'm soon-to-be paying my student loans for OR NOT
I can budget well this month OR NOT
I have suppers planned out well this week OR NOT
I have to run 10 times to the grocery store this week because I can't get my brain to sharpen up OR NOT.
I have to be honest, I'm not sure I believe my house is enough right now. But I'm going to work on figuring out how I can do so, or what things I absolutely need to change in order to fully believe it. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Whack whack. Don't talk back.
In my anger with my son who often does things that annoy me, I often whack the rock like Moses did. In trying to understand what the "incident at Meribah" really means, I realize how many inicidents of Meribah I inflict on my own life.
The Israelites, once again, complain, and once again it's about water. God tells Moses to speak to the rock and water will come out. Instead of speaking to it (or about it, as some interpreters suggest), he hits it and tells the people, "Listen, rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" Because of Moses' dealings with this situation, he was not permitted to enter the promised land. What did he do wrong? Well, first he disobeyed by enacting the wrong verb. Instead of speaking, he hit. Secondly, he did not differentiate to the people (who began to blur the lines between their perception of Moses and of God) that the water was coming out of the rock because of God's authority, not because of Moses'. "Must we bring you water ... ." Numbers 20:12 says that Moses' sin was not honoring God as holy.
Moses was called to perform a miracle and then explain [speak] that miracle to the Israelites, attributing the power of it to God. Why? Because as their leader, he was to lead them into a relationship with God. Just as our leadership positions in life are meant for that same purpose. Instead, he was so frustrated with the Israelites and he angrily gave them what they asked. ["Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy, I'm hungry!" "Fine, here's your dern peanut butter and jelly sandwich!"] It seems that his perception of the people he was leading was wrong. Likewise the people's perception of Moses was wrong. Moses saw the people as babbling, complaining, annoying, needy, which justifiably they were. But he did not see them as more than that. He could not see himself in them. He stood on a pedestal created by his perceptions and by theirs. The people saw Moses as a god-like figure that could not relate to them. He glowed, he saw the burning bush, he could go 40 days without eating! The gap was too wide. So when the people made Moses angry, he filtered not his emotions and made no attempt to bridge that gap.
The question is, how often do I do the same thing? Cademon can push buttons on me that I didn't know existed. I can get so frustrated at him for simple things that instead of explaining who God is in those teachable moments, I simply give him what he needs so he'll leave me alone. I whack the stick against the rock and don't care if he understands from where (or from whom) the water is coming. The need is being satisfied but I'm not explaining how. The result? I am unable to enter the rest that is promised me because of a lack of unbelief. Sure, it takes more energy to explain to Cade who God is and why He is so great. Sure, it takes more time to explain how God supplies our needs and how the authority I have is limited because I am not God. But in the end, as in most cases of parenting, investing more up front proves a better return on the investment. In the end, I find rest when Cade is able to connect what I've been teaching him at home in other environments. In the end, Cade will understand that I cannot give him everything, that my power and authority are finite, and that ultimately, it's his relationship with God that matters most. Whacking a stick is often what I want to do in those moments, but if I give into that temptation, I cannot enter true rest.