Monday, July 23, 2007

Setting my course: who ya gonna run to?

At the gloomiest part of the tunnel of my dark years, I felt somehow victimized. Poor me, stuck all day with the little ones (yes, those same ones God had so graciously given in answer to our prayers). Can’t even get out, can’t get anything done. My two little babies took all my time, generated huge messes and produced disproportionately large mountains of laundry. I felt I had no control: I had an unpredictable schedule because I worked odd shifts, different evenings and/or nights during the week. I found myself running ragged after the children’s needs and being frustrated that I never seemed to have time to get anything done that was on my own to-do list. It didn’t help that during this time, we were also experiencing financial difficulties, I wanted to quit my job but couldn’t, and I had few close friends in my stage of motherhood.

I hit an all-time mental-status low when Allie (now 13) was two and a half, and Neal (now 12) was one and a half – both of them in the “terrible twos.” In one of my few “honest” admissions of how difficult it was, here’s a snippet from my journal:

I am emotionally and physically drained from chronic whining, complaining, “no-saying,” stalling, demanding, and downright fit-throwing. I go just about as long as I can – which in this case has been weeks on end – and then BAM! I explode in a fury of tears in the privacy of my car after dropping the kids off at Mother’s Day Out (Boy, am I grateful for that institution! It has meant the saving of me and, at times, the safety of my children!!).

I’m trying to do everything right, handling a toddler. I try to remain calm. This is most difficult when the little person rolls out of bed and immediately gets mad because I try to give her a “good morning” hug! I try to insist on respect and a certain amount of self-control. I try to hear what she is saying behind that fit or whine.

I think I’ve just run out of energy…

After several paragraphs outlining the behaviors that vexed me (which I had tried to explain away, rationalize or overlook), I came to the end of myself. The journal entry closed with a desperate cry out to God:

Help me. I need You!

I’m sure God was saying, “Uh, like, IT'S ABOUT TIME!”

I’d been a Christian all my life, and I had trusted God with every other area of my life. Why was it so hard for me to give my role as a parent to Him? Perhaps I’d taken one too many psychology classes, but I don’t think I truly believed the doctrine of total depravity until I saw it working in a toddler’s fulminating temper tantrum. And I never saw my own sinfulness, my own pride, my own need of a Savior, as much as when I looked into the eyes of my own child.

For two-and-a-half years, I’d been trying to do it on my own. Oh, I’d been doing all the “right” things, even asking God to bless my efforts and all. I’d read all the books and instituted all the techniques – good things. But I thought I could brew my own little concoction of parenting wisdom by mixing in some Biblical principles with whatever else sounded good in a parenting magazine. For a while it worked.

But by mid-toddlerhood, I fully realized that raising a child was more than programming a blank slate – it was a spiritual endeavor. Our children were born sinful, and having a parenting goal of good behavior was not enough. We had to lead our kids toward a heart-saving knowledge of Christ.

I needed to get off the fence. I was either going to live my life – including raising my kids - trusting in myself (which wasn’t going so well) or trusting Him. I could not be passive: that road led only to self-pity. And I’d already demonstrated that I couldn’t mix the two.

I was confused and exhausted. I was finally ready to hear what He had to say.

I'm wondering: Are you ready to get off the fence and trust Him with your family?

No one can serve two masters.
Matthew 6:24
If you've been following along, here are the previous posts on this subject:
Marriage thoughts from the dark years (To a Young Mother)
Set your course
Setting my course: the beginning
Setting my course: the desire


Mary@notbefore7 said...

Amen to that. If only I had been blogging and found you 4 years ago...perhaps my first few years as a mom would have been "easier", but then I guess, that is a journey God needed me to take to also realize what I was still trying to control. Thanks again, for your honesty.

Rachel Anne said...

I'm loving this "series." It really has made me think about my own journey of parenting...the good, the bad and the ugly, and how God has somehow managed to keep on holding on to us through it all.

Anonymous said...

Hon, you hit the nail on the head. I have a three year old and a 19month old. Struggling with genetic depression made worse with pregnancy has me at the end of my rope.

"Are you ready to get off the fence and trust Him with your family?"
YES YES YES! What I am missing? How do I get off this ride????

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

This is such a struggle for me, too. It seems somehow easier to trust God with everything else - finances, job security, extended family issues. But parenting? Why is it so hard to surrender that to Him?

Thank you for such a transparent revelation of where you have been. It's so encouraging! And I also have been enjoying this series so much.

Elise @A Path Made Straight said...

How often I see my reflection in the puddle of my children's sin nature. They've learned so much of it from me.
Yes, I'm so ready to trust Him with this. It is too important to handle it myself, with my dirty hands and clumsy fingers.
What a relief.

Anonymous said...

I saw your link on a friend of mines blog, and I was so encouraged by your words. This is so completely my daily battle. I want to trust the kids and my parenting to God, but life gets in the way, you know? I feel so overwhelmed and lost sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This particular post blessed me immensely today. I needed to hear this very, VERY badly!! We have been away from Daddy for 7 weeks and have about 10 more days to go.... we leave in about 30 hours to begin the 10 day trek home from Canada to St. Louis. Pray for me that I will surrender to the Lord every.single.mile.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

Thanks for some Godly wisdom. I "try" so hard sometimes, when what I really need to do is pray and seek HIM.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Katherine, as usual, what can I say but "Thanks!" Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for reminding us that without God, we are nothing.

I would say "I needed this today," but in fact, I need to remember to relinquish control to God, EVERY DAY!

Anonymous said...

Great post!! I appreciate your honesty. Parenting has brought out the worst of me at times - other times I am amazed at the grace God gives me. I am most certainly going to lean hard on Him this go-around. From experience, I can't do it on my own strength - it just won't work

Christi said...

Katherine, what you wrote in this post directly speaks to me today. Especially your last statement: "I'm wondering: Are you ready to get off the fence and trust Him with your family?" My journey has been much, much like your journey; and I have recently reached the point you describe here. You will never know how timely this was for me.

Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share.

Grafted Branch said...

I like your thoughts expressed here. It seems that I've had to relearn the doctrine of total depravity countless times, and I expect I will be reminded of it countless more in the future.

I think the bigger danger lies in *not* seeing the truth of it afresh, often.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Wow, another fantastic post in this series. Again, I can relate so much to your struggles and conclusions. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I once again feel like I missed the boat. I recall asking someone If they would rather be on the Rollercoaster of Life or the Merry-Go-Round?

I believe that Merry-Go-Rounds begin with fun and a sense of excitement but after awhile it does get dry and SAFE!

Sign me up for the rollercoaster any day. It is scary but it is so much fun :)

Love your life--Be the happening mom that you are. The sink is just a speed bump. Just a speed bump.