Monday, March 13, 2017

I don't know how you do it

It has been 4 months since I went on an alone-date with my husband.
The desperation of our situation just started hitting us this past month- we NEED to get out.  We love our kids. We love being all together. But I love my husband most of all. This has been a wild-whirlwind 12 months of traveling and living in VERY close quarters together.

We went to the Museum of Life and Science and pretended we were on a date alone while the kids played
(aka our tiny chaperones)

Honestly, the most annoying thing people say (either casually or with shock and wonder) is "I don't know how you do it."

I am SO guilty of saying the same insensitive line- when I see a Mom with 4 kids under 4, when spouses deploy, a single parent, a friend working full time and going to school full time. I don't "get" it but if I'd shut my wondering mouth for 2 seconds, I could save that person from the hurt my casual curiosity shoots them down with- "I don't know how you do it."

We are all in seasons of life where we are right where we are at this very moment and so often, we can't change our immediate circumstances.

What if we shut our pretty little mouths when we don't fully understand someones situation and looked at them with compassion, because we all endure seasons of suffering. 

I think we too quickly assume suffering and grieving are only associated with death, illness, or loss. But I'd label this past year my sisters husband has been stationed overseas as a year of suffering and grieving for her.

Last year, that precious final year of living in our 200 year old farmhouse in Candia, NH, where my baby went to school for the first time ever was a year of suffering and grieving for me. Our neighbor decided to keep her preemie after a pregnancy-long undecided if she would give her baby to us. Watching that babe every morning for the first several weeks of her life, then handing her back to her hungover Momma with a cigarette between her lips. Running into our neighbors house through screams as a 42 year old woman lost her battle to cancer. She was my friend. I shared Jesus with that woman in some of the most raw times I could even imagine- including her final days. She asked if we would take her young son when death finally took her. Just a few short weeks before her death it was determined that he would go to his grandmother instead. It was a good thing. Such a good thing. But I still wept on the floor of the room I had spent the past 12 months cautiously imagining becoming his bedroom. In the midst of all of this, two other precious people I love died- one suddenly, too young, and one went out praising Jesus in his suffering. By the end of the school year, we were closing on our house, buying an RV and heading out for several months of traveling on tour for Bike Stunt Shows.  Which wrapped up in us relocating to a different region of the country. So that all happened in less than a year.

In the midst of that, we struggled financially. And when I say "struggled" I mean the panic of not being able to put gas in our cars or our debit card being declined when I needed to buy groceries. Because poverty doesn't "look" like us. We have been in this support raising phase for over 4 years (while doing ministry mostly full-time) and are still at only $1,000 monthly in support. Then God puts a vision on my heart for a short term trip overseas and I feel hurt and angry that He would put that there. Because He isn't providing for us much of the time, or so it feels. So what makes Him think we could raise $4,000 for a trip- when I'm already working two part time jobs, homeschooling my kid and preparing for the summer traveling for ministry and work. I doubt. I get angry with God. I am constantly needing to repent for my unbelieve and lack of trust in Him.

Does it paint a better picture now?

Maybe some skull and crossbones, splatters of red and flowing tears all over this pretty little picture you imagine life looking like. Life is beautiful, something to celebrate and bask in. But it is also like this darn North Carolina red clay, that no matter how many times you tell your kids to stay out, they get it all over everything. You scrub your best and all you get is more of a mess all over your bathroom sink and embedded in your blue shag carpet.

Writing this makes me feel so uncomfortable. It doesn't feel liberating, or like something I want to sing and dance about. I'm still a bit raw, if you can't tell. Because I'm in a different season, and thank you Jesus that I'm not grieving death, or the loss of a child that wasn't even mine.

Yesterday, I was desperate to date my husband on a last minute Sunday afternoon because I was about to burst with vulnerable things I needed to share with him- uninterrupted.

"We struggled financially" isn't so much a past tense suffering. It's a constant. And Lord help us, can we just get a "break" when we are doing all the things "right" to not be in this place. I'm still in a cyclical season of "Jesus take the wheel" but instead of Carrie Underwood's sweetness, it's laced with the feistiness of Miranda Lambert.

There were so many life lessons and growing pains I straight up hated last year, but one thing I pray I will retain from it all is this-
suffering comes in many forms. 

A Mom with young kids feeling a loss in her own identity, purpose and self-worth.
Seasons of dryness Spiritually and a lack of desire to even know the One who made you deeper.
Grieving a relationship that has been severed, and not through death.

Whisper to someone, "I don't know what to do."
Pray for God to bring a shoulder to cry on.
Pull over sometime when you're alone in the car and scream and cry and let the tears fall. Let the ache sooth over just a bit know that while God may feel silent, He is listening. Imagine His own tears washing over you as He weeps in your suffering.

Put on some worship music and let it wash over you.*

I don't have the right answer or a solution for you. Just this- it isn't finished. Don't quit. Don't give up, throw it all away, or run from the suffering. Trust that God WILL work this for His glory (Romans 8:28) Press on, friend.

*I currently have Lauren Daigle as my Pandora station & am studying Ephesians as we go through it at our Church.