If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Try, try again.

Right? That’s how that old saying goes, and generally speaking, it’s not a bad rule of thumb to follow. Unfortunately, that has been exactly how I have treated my life, spiritual or otherwise, and it never seems to work.
Does this sound familiar?

Self: “I will get up at 5:00 to do my devotions, work out and shower before the kids get up, I have to go to work, etc.” Go to bed at a reasonable time, set the alarm, and feel great about the plan.

The alarm goes off, you sluggishly roll over and stare at it until you convince yourself that hitting snooze won’t hurt anything (after all, it’s only 9 more minutes) and then you will definitely, yes, definitely, get up.

And……an hour later, the baby is crying, the 3 year old is pattering into your room announcing the new day, “Psst! Momma! Are you awake?” and the almost-but-not-quite-two-year-old is alternately singing/screaming in his crib. Rise and shine, indeed.

Three hours later, you may just be getting around to your morning cup of coffee or you may be refereeing sharing the train table between the boys while trying to sweep up stray Cheerios or do the dishes (more likely the dishes will still need to be done by lunch time) and the phone starts ringing just as someone takes a header into a wall.

If you’re like me, that’s when you LOSE IT.

For crying out loud, all you want to do is finish clearing up from breakfast and maybe sit down and take one sip of coffee before the next crisis arises! Oh, and that devotion time? Yeah, haven’t gotten around to it yet. Now you’re thinking about during nap time. But aren’t you supposed to do it in front of the kids so they can “catch” you spending time with God? Oh, and working out? Well, I guess that’s going to be going up and down the basement steps lugging laundry.

By the time the husband comes home, you’ve put the 3 year old in time out at least 10 times, the 2 year old has spent the entire day screaming and whining and the baby refuses to be put down. You’ve snapped at the kids, muttered under your breath about how easy your husband has it (or a friend, or whomever) and you’ve had your fill. Dinner is late, bed time can’t come soon enough and you still have yet to do those blasted dishes.

Who’s with me? And the coup de grace is when you do finally get to sit down and rest, that’s when the guilt starts to seep in. It’s been there all day, but it really comes to the forefront when things are just getting quiet.

“Man, I really blew it today with the kids. I didn’t show them patience or love. They must think I’m a monster.”

“Wow, God, I really let You down today. I’m so sorry. I know I didn’t spend any time with You. I promise tomorrow I’ll do better.”

“Was I really that mean to my husband? I must be turning into a shrew. Well, I’ll make it up to him. Apologize. Make him his favorite dinner. Something.”

And, so, with a renewed vow to do better, you go to bed thinking that tomorrow will be different.

And it will be. And maybe for a little while, things are going better. You’re more committed to having a gentle and patient spirit with your children. You show more love to your husband. You become more disciplined about spending time with God.

But if you’re like me, this only lasts for a very short season. And the day depicted above happens again. And again. And again. And each time, we try a little bit harder to be better, do better, be different.

Can I be honest? I am so tired of trying harder. I am so tired of feeling inadequate in my roles as a wife, mother, friend, Christian….of feeling unworthy at the end of every day in some respect. Oh, I actually spent what I felt to be an adequate amount of time interacting purposefully with my children? Then I neglected God and that isn’t good. Oh, I spent the next day spending time with God? Well, yeah, but it was at the expense of my children (or my house, or my husband, etc.). Can anyone relate?

What God has been showing me over the last three years (roughly) is that with Him, I never have to try again. That I am free from the checklists that were keeping me in bondage to the world and its expectations and I can live, really live, out of the grace He gave me when I accepted Him. That who He has created me to be is enough. Never again do I need to look to my roles as a wife, mother, friends, etc. for my validation. Being Erin is enough to Him. And He will always be happy with me. Pleased with me. No matter if I lose my temper or don’t get to my quiet time for the day. He loves me that much.

This is where I’m coming from. Where I’m learning from. I’m learning to see myself with new eyes; as Christ sees me, and consequently, maybe just a little bit of how others see me, too. Do I have it all figured out? Absolutely not. But I’m loving the changes I am seeing in my life as a result. And funnily enough, the changes are happening without me trying. Isn’t God amazing?

What do you think? Am I crazy or does some of this resonate within your own heart? Please feel free to share.

Blessings,

Erin

ps. in the interest of full transparency, and lest you think that I always have half an hour or 45 minutes to blog every day, I would like to share that I was interrupted twice by the three year old who was supposed to be keeping still during his quiet time. Once was because, “Momma, I can’t sweep (sleep)!” and the second because, “Momma, I think Daddy’s home. I must go hide.” The other two are confined to cribs, so I do have that going for me. 😉

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