I recently wrote on Facebook (excerpt below) about how I felt like my whole life is SO overwhelming that I feel like it's all stress and sacrifice, and being robbed of joy. Many commented they often feel the same. Well, this past week through bible study Walking Toward Eternity: Making Choices for Today, I had a Holy Spirit moment of revelation.
My original post:
I've never felt so discouraged. So much of my efforts, regardless of offering up my struggles and sorrows, regardless of changing things up, do not seem to be worthwhile. Having a large family is feeling more and more like a burden rather than a blessing. I do not wish my children away, as i love them all dearly. But I'm tired of the same disasters that engulf our home and dampen my joy.
Hours spent cleaning, money and time repairing/replacing, despite decluttering. Our life is consumed with chores. I can't balance home and homeschool (which is not an option to change). School is generally going okay for the first time in years. The house disasters and attitudes are the bigger concern. We have an awesome chore system, they'd just rather play and destroy. I could really use some advice and encouragement from the experienced mom's who've survived large families with kids ranging from teens to toddlers.
I'm sure you've all had people say "How do you do it? " Sometimes i reply happily "With God's grace, the help of a large family, and vitamins. " On bad days I reply, "I just do what has to be done to survive, like everyone else. " I often remind myself i wouldn't trade my cross for anyone else's, I'm so blessed. I lay it at Jesus' feet and trust "If i do my best, God will take care of the rest. " Motivational signs like that are all over my house. Yet, so many days I feel crushed by the weight of the moment and it's hard to think positively and sacrificially. Again, just wanting to find the joy and rest. Thanks everyone for your kind words. I wish you all the grace to find joy in your days. Cookies and coffee helped too!
SACRIFICES and RESENTMENT:
I finally realized that I myself was resentful towards God for all the "offering up/sacrifice" moments. I robbed myself of that joy. I wasn't "doing small things with great love. (St Teresa of Calcutta)" as I had thought I was doing. I was simply saying, Hey, I guess my life just is going to be hard, so deal with it. Could be worse. God will drag you through it. Just find the grace to get through it. << That's an attitude of giving up, just surviving.
The secular world will have to believe that you can be a good person and do good things, without a god or fear of punishment. Well, yes you can. However, God is explicit that all those good deeds and intentions will serve no purpose but your own. It's not pointless, but it IS selfish at the root. How much of my frustration in a day is because things are not going MY way? What do I try to get done simply for my own desire? Philippians 2:3-4 says,
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."Who cares if the house is clean or work gets done if my family is miserable in the process!? Yes, "love endures and bears all things" - BUT "it does not seek it's own interests. It is not irritable or resentful!"
COMPASSION VS TOLERANCE:
The world will have us believe that we need to "tolerate" people who do not live as we wish they would. I am not inclined to "tolerate" my family or anyone for that matter. However, Christ taught us to have "compassion" for each other. That subtle difference is LOVE. I need to integrate more compassion in my interactions with my children. C.S. Lewis said,
Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They are the most important work.
I WILL find great joy in my crazy life. But i will find it by doing everything with great love and seeking the joy in the moments.
* I plan to do this by encouraging my children to pair with siblings and look for each others strengths and weaknesses to develop a better chore partnership. No more individual chores. We already do this with our homeschooling and it works great. Building relationships with siblings. Someone also noted, adding music to chore time (15-30 min a day) can improve the atmosphere for chores.
* My kids ask for more of my time, so I will focus on integrating them into my daily doings. My husband is going to step up to mend relationships with our kids by getting them involved with his activities, diving into theirs, and spending quality time with them. We also try to save Sundays as a day for the Lord and Family. We schedule in time for each other!
WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST:
Here we are sure to find joy. Everyone can be a part of the Body of Christ. Each person has his or her talents, strengths, gifts, and grace to do something well and fruitful. In order for this Body to grow and be Love to the world (at home or elsewhere), each person needs to be encouraged to do their part.
* Am I encouraging my children each day to give their best to their tasks and relationships? Am I so overwhelmed with a task list or calendar, I forget to tend to those who are not finding joy or acting with Love? Am I slow to anger, and quick to love?
"..Everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20Here it is so clearly in Romans 12:1-2,4-6
"I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mine, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since w have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them."
HAVE GREAT JOY!
I can have joy. It is a conscience effort of putting Love into action, where joy can be found. If I focus on my tasks, my anxieties, and let stress consume me - there is no room for joy. Philippians 4:4-9
"Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and minds in Christ Jesus.* And when we are not feeling joyful, we will be immediately attentive to changing our priorities if necessary. Do we have to do the dishes right now? Can we stop and pray? Should we run away together to a park or library to refresh? Is it simply a pizza night? This is what some call "Living in the Moment." Only took me this long to connect that phrase with my spiritual life.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and hear and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."
Dear God, Creator of all things,
I ask that you send your grace upon all of us
blessed, burdened, broken, barren and bereaved.
Help us be drawn to seek your grace through the sacraments, prayer, adoration and sacrifice.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, wrap your mantle around us
so we may feel your comfort and say yes to following the path ahead.
Bless us with supportive spouses that share in our joys, sorrows, trials and faith in you, God.
Thank you for your abundant grace, freeing mercy and unconditional love.
Without you, this life with all it's challenges would be for nothing.
Our Family Prayer
SING IT! Musical Inspiration
When I Let it Go (Sierra)
Trading My Sorrows [for the Joy of the Lord] (Darrel Evans)
The Joy of the Lord is my Strength (Rend Collective) Nehemiah 8:11
Do Something [If not me, than who?] (Matthew West)
For the kids - I've got the joy, joy, joy song
THE OLD WOMAN WITH SO MANY CHILDREN - Which are you?
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
There was an old woman Who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children, And loved them all, too.
She said, "Thank you Lord Jesus, For sending them bread."
Then kissed them all gladly and sent them to bed.
I hope you found this insight helpful. If you already had this figured out, hey, please share more ideas with us!