Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Thoughts on Truth and Bad Days

So, to my surprise, I am not so embarrassed by my last post. Thanks, everyone! I feel kind of freed up now to not obsess over trying to think of unsad things to say. Unsad can be a word, right? And it's amazing how easy it is to think of unsad things when you are not trying to look for them without acknowledging the big sad elephant in the room. While everything I said in the post is still true, it is often a matter of perspective that tells us if we can or can't handle it. I feel less alone in it after the encouragement of friends, and that does a lot for anyone's point of view. I also took many of your words to heart. This is a major valley for me. And the idea that I have to keep things as normal as possible is really too much. But the idea of the decisions I make now, for the sake of ease or mercy to myself, becoming poor habits that remain is scary to me. Then again, perfectionism is crushing me. So maybe merely surviving this year of homeschooling does not mean that if I homeschool in the future, when things are slightly less askew, I won't be able to do a more fun and thorough job. Like Jennifer said, couldn't I just stop homeschooling today and still have Amabel test into third grade? Absolutely. And really, couldn't I just pick up a few bags of frozen chicken fingers to have on hand to spare us from the last minute, frantic necessity of the Happy Meal? It doesn't mean we will eat chicken fingers for dinner every night for the rest of our lives. (And why is this my logic but Chicken McNuggets don't scare me?!) I know this in "normal" life- crazy days happen! But I have begun to panic as the crazy days have far outnumbered the rest. 

Another friend who has had experience with pneumonia pointed out that I may be expecting too much from myself so soon after hospitalization. I'm not saying seven weeks is soon, but what I do think is that I was up until 3am dealing with some extended family issues several nights almost as soon as I got out of the hospital. And my husband is often gone from seven to eleven three or four days a week. So, maybe for those first six weeks, the ones when you're really supposed to take it easy and rest, I didn't take it so easy and didn't have a lot of rest, physically or emotionally. I had a ton of rest from meal prep for about two weeks and that was invaluable. And I had a wonderful first week home from the hospital with 'round the clock childcare. But I didn't really ease back into it after that; I pretty quickly went from operating on like 20% to trying to do 100%. It was dumb. And that's how you get people seven weeks out from pneumonia who still feel like ten hours of sleep is perfectly reasonable and making a grocery list is the most tiresome prospect in the world. 

I also don't want to sound ungrateful. Just like you can be grateful that you have two children and still be heartbroken when you lose your third pregnancy, you can be grateful for your husband's employment and still be heartbroken that the time and energy and resources that were put toward a plan for five years have not come to anything. You can be grateful for a pay cut that kept you from being laid off and still recognize that you were barely getting by before the pay cut.  You can be grateful for the many things people have done for you again and again and still feel a frustration that you are dependent and needy. Everyone dreads being that guy who always has problems and needs. But I'm that guy. It's not that I'm ungrateful for everyone's loving and practical response, I just don't want to be this guy. 

But I know the Lord has called me to this, at least for now. I know that. And I am doing the work of trying to be okay with that, of trying to trust in his kindness and love. It's never his sovereignty that I question, always his interest or concern. A lot of people take things like this and decide he is not sovereign so that he can be interested and concerned, as if he can't be both loving and intentional in their sufferings. But I think Scripture says he is both. So I am counting on both, even though I have a lot of days where I feel like he doesn't care. That's when it is good to have so much to be grateful for, and to see his hand in all of it. 

While I am talking about all of this, it makes sense to mention that a lot of people run the other way and make the Lord completely sovereign but minimally loving, in the sense of him being a personal God who cares about even the sparrows. They want to remind us of how far he is above us and how his mercy in our salvation is amazing love defined and we certainly don't deserve that nor anything more. But I don't think God has his arms crossed and is annoyed with our broken hearts wondering why we have feelings or desires (this is the feeling I have gotten from J. Piper in the past, for those who have asked what my problem is with him- not that I have read much from him, especially not in a long time). While we don't deserve salvation or happiness or whatever, I think God loves us and is happy to give those things- not always, not to our peril, but I think he made us unique and complicated and personal and he delights in meeting our individual needs even more than we love to give to our own children. 

If I am learning anything, it is that people who love the Lord are happy to give. Well, maybe I am learning other things too, but my point is that I love to give and how arrogant is it to think that I am the only one in the world who is excited to stumble upon a great gift for someone and buy it for them for no reason or pack up a bunch of hand me downs for my nephew to help out my sister or bake a batch of cookies for a friend who had a bad week and wrap it up with pretty ribbon? It's not just me. My friend Jessie sent me a surprise in the mail this week just because she saw it and thought of me (can't find a picture online, but it is an owl vase from Anthropologie- perfect!); this was not an isolated incident.  The amazing love that has been shown to us through the giving of fellow saints has really floored me. We have been given a home, a car, thousands of dollars through dozens of people, clothes, food, toys, and on and on just in the past six months. I mean, generosity looks different for everyone, but we all get that from the Lord, Christ living in us. He loves to give. Don't you think he is really excited right before we deliver our babies, like he just can't wait to see the look on our faces when we get the perfect present from him, when we hear that first cry and hold our tiny one, just what we always wanted and never even knew how much! Or when we move somewhere new and meet people who we have no idea will become some of our most treasured friends. Surely he is excited about these things. Surely he loves this part of our story just as we love the moment when Elinor realizes that Edward did not marry Lucy Steele after all and bursts into tears or when Guido and Joshua shout out "Buongiorno Princepessa!"over the loud speaker and Dora, sorting through the discarded clothes of murdered children, learns that her son is still alive. He knows our stories, he wrote our stories, so I can imagine that the God who filled the sky with angels the night he gave his son to his people and who "takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his mercy." (Ps. 147:11) is delighted to give us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4).

And in the meantime, those of us who are in the valley can comfort in that "When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all." Psalm 34: 17-19. And, ever my comfort, "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17. 

Peace be with you today- good, bad, or crazy! 


e.c. said...

Okay--wow! That was beautifully written, Abby...I am seriously in tears! I am so glad you are encouraged in this moment, and you have encouraged ME....I will keep on praying...

jennifer h said...


Thanks for sharing how you are processing the thoughts and feelings you are going through right now. I enjoyed your post, and I am glad you are more encouraged today than you were on Sunday.

Wright Family said...

Ditto to e.c.'s comment. I am in tears and so encouraged. Thank you for always being honest and sharing what God teaches you. Praying for unexpected times of encouragement today and lots or strength and energy while you teach/mommy.

Anonymous said...

I've never actually thought about God being excited to give me my desires, or any good thing...sometimes I think I tend to forget about his emotions toward his children! Thanks for the encouragement today :)

Jessie said...

Wow, how well spoken. I agree - with you and the comments about tears. He is kind and gracious and good and loving. Which is very very hopeful indeed!

courtney said...

Hey lady-
Glad to read your words today. I am so thankful to have a Father who continues to pursue and carry us even as we seem stuck in our own worries and troubles. Thanks for your encouraaging thoughts!!

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