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The Silence

September 6, 2013

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It’s been a hard past couple of weeks.  I’ve been exhausted and a bit quiet.  It happens sometimes.  It’s ok.  It’s just not fun.  There’s a few drafts of posts floating around on my computer, but I doubt they will reach the light of day because they are bit “woe is me” whiny.  Those posts are no fun to read.

In general, the transition to the school year is a hard one for me.  As a teacher, the stressful part was the two weeks before I went back to work–those days anticipating the year when there were a lot of unknowns.  I knew the end of the summer was upon me, which was sad, but I was always a bit excited to see who and what the new year would bring.  That tension wore me out and made me a bit on edge.

As a mom, that tension is different.  The anticipation of the unknown is still there, but now, it’s a bit more acute.  It’s one thing to worry for yourself, it’s another to worry for the kids.  However, once the school year as started, the transition isn’t over.  It takes me a while to find my groove.  How do I want to spend my days?  What is my routine for when I am by myself?  I crave time by myself…I need time by myself.   However, as I posted before, I also need a routine, things to do to stay busy, and outlets with other people.  The first few weeks of school are rough as I try to establish what the routine will be for the coming year.  The first days I’m by myself, I am giddy with freedom.  Then, I have to reassess what’s important and how I will spend my time.

This year, I had exactly two days by myself before I was no longer by myself.  My daughter broke  her arm at the playground at school and required surgery and pin to fix it.  All of sudden, my work to establish my routine was set aside for dr’s appts and days with a hurting child at home.  This is just my third day by myself and I find myself more exhausted than when the school year started.  It wasn’t supposed to work that way.  I haven’t discovered a routine and in my occasional down time, I want to just curl up in a ball and recover.

It’s hard work seeing your child in so much pain that I can’t make go away.  It’s exhausting watching my children try to adjust to school years.   Madeleine is more tired than normal as her body does the wondrous work of healing itself.  In response to her fatigue, she worries and loses confidence.  She “can’t” do things.   She can’t go to school, she can’t set the table, she can’t have on a long cast for three more weeks, she can’t switch classes at school like they do, she just can’t.  Can’t is now a banned word in our house.  John is doing fabulously in first grade–such a relief!  He comes home from school telling my he had an “awesome” day or a “rockstar” day.  However, he can’t hold it together after-school.  He’s spent so much energy sitting still in that desk all day long that he has to wiggle and move and do his own thing, which works out fine until I ask him to set the table or to please not jump on top of his little brother.  We’re adjusting, but it’s safe to say, we’re an exhausted house.

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All summer, I had intentions of getting back to my quiet time.  With our total lack of routine, travel, and frequent guests (all of which we loved!), I’d fit in a day or two and then the schedule would change and it wouldn’t happen.  This past week, in all it’s hardness, I turned to escaping—nothing bad or dangerous, just obsessively watching Grey’s Anatomy or reading my murder mysteries.  I needed an out for a bit.  Funny how neither of those nourished me.  They just fed my need for escaping more.  As a result, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do much but get my children to and from school and their doctor and dentists appointments and soccer practices, keep everyone well fed and lunches packed, and do laundry.  After that, my energy was gone.

Once, twice, I got to my quiet and each time, I left feeling refreshed.  Now, as I often preach (mostly to myself….always to myself….), Christianity is not a self-help program.  My relationship with God isn’t so that I felt better.  God isn’t a magician who waves his wand and fixes all that is wrong.  God is.  Grounding myself in what was important took the reflection off of my own pity party and exhaustion.  It let me breathe.  It let me notice the morning, the lizard, the blue sky, my little boy playing with a truck.   It let me know my struggles are not unique, nor am I the center of the universe.

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I am in the Prophets in my chronological Bible, of which I am now over two months behind in my reading.  When I returned to my reading, I found myself reading Amos, Micah, Jonah, and Isaiah.  As I have said before, this is some of my favorite parts of the Bible.  It convicts me.  Amos lets me know how to follow God through what Judah, Israel, and their neighboring countries have not done.  In addition to worshiping other idols (and blatant idol worship–not as we talk about idol worship today), the people were condemned for the following:  1) Treating people unjustly (Amos 1:3-8),  2) Not keeping their word (Amos 1:9-10),  3)Showing no mercy and being unrelenting in their anger (Amos 1:11-12), 4)  Seeking power and land through brutality  (Amos 1:13-15). 5)  Lack of respect for the leaders and the dead  (Amos 2:1-3), 6)  Refusal to obey, leading to being led astray from God’s work-rejection of God (Amos 2:4-5), 7)  Corrupting God’s name and taking advantage of the weak/lesser  (Amos 2:6-8).

Funny how in my time of pity, I have no issue with being called out for doing so many of the things listed in Amos.  Granted, I haven’t sought power and land through brutality, but I have not shown mercy sometimes when I should have and have been unrelenting in my anger more than once.  I struggle with lack of respect for leaders.   I have been led astray from God’s work.  I am a sinner and have fallen short, as always.  Yet this comforts me.  It makes me human.  It makes me recognize my need for God and the vastness of God’s love and mercy for all of us–that humans are still in existence.

One day in the past couple of weeks, I was complaining to Curtis about someone or something that happened.  I listened to myself a bit and knew how ugly I sounded.  I sighed deeply and said how much easier it would just be if I could just be perfect.  Then others wouldn’t bother me so much and I could let go of grudges.  But I’m not perfect.  Never will be.  Nor am I supposed to be perfect.  That’s what the prophets tell me.  Yet God will not destroy me.  God still loves me.

I am not that far away from God’s love.  I need to just look away from myself for a moment to see it.

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 In Philip Yancey’s book, Reaching for the Invisible God, he shared a quote from When Faith by Rabbi Bunam

As a Jewish Rabbi put it, “A man should carry two stones in his pocket.  On one should be inscribed, ‘I am but dust and ashes.’  On the other, ‘For my sake was the world created.’  And he should use each stone as he needs it.”

Yep.  Contrary to what makes sense, I need to know I am but dust and ashes when exhaustion, despair, and then acedia set in.  Knowing that makes all the difference, for all three are rooted a bit in self-centeredness and self-pity.  I need to turn my face outwards, away from myself.DSC_0121

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