Friday night comes around. For most, it is a celebration. The end of another work week. A chance to unwind. For me, it is just another night. Another day done. Only change for me would be that the next two days will not include schooling the kids or two nights of making lunch for my husband to take to work the next day. For the past several weekends, I keep forgetting that nothing is happening of notable exception. I let myself think of hopeful plans before reality kicks in. Then it hits me and I hate my mind for being ridiculous.
Christmas is coming and instead of being thrilled, I've actually just wanted it to be over. I had thought the Grinch in me had dissipated. I was wrong. I'm starting to be glad we are planning to do it at home with just us. Less stress of how I'm going to get through it.
So why? Why would I feel like this? Why am I going through these notions? Well, I'm finding it hard to keep the faith right now.
I wish I could say that I'm always "keeping the faith". That I always believe everything is going great. That I never worry. But that just isn't so. A friend asked me how I keep the faith. At the time I told him, that I remind myself that this isn't it for me. This life isn't all there is for me to look forward to. But as time went on from that conversation, I thought over it again and again. And again.
The truth is, I don't "keep the faith". I continually have to renew it. I have to choose my faith over the doubts and fears that constantly plague my mind. It is never as smooth-sailing as some make it look. I've heard pastors say that as Christians, we are to shine a hopeful light at all times because we don't know who is watching and we want to remind them that hope is out there. And they would be right. In our hardest times, we are to exude the ever flowing knowledge that God is greater than our troubles. However, I'm human. And I'm honest. So I'll admit it. Life isn't roses just because I chose to follow Christ. Because I believed in Him. I have trials and troubles just like anyone else. But I keep reminding myself that He is in control. That my worries are just that. Pitiful worries. This life isn't the end all. After all, read Romans 5:3-4. This is progressive towards something much greater.
The snowball starts
Things happen though.
Last month a chain reaction set off in me. It started just as my parents left and my husband came down with a dreaded virus. I was so thankful they didn't get sick! But I was also worried about my husband. One by one, the rest of us, save one, had symptoms of the illness. I was comforted by the fact that God allowed one of my kids to avoid getting sick while the youngest had a mild sore throat only. Through it all, I could see God's hand. That week, each day went by in a bit of a blur. I was so sick, I wanted to stay curled up in bed and cry. Sickness carries a secondary reaction in this broken body of mine. Every nerve and joint hurts when I get under the weather. But as I told my husband, Mom can't stay in bed. She has cooking. She has kids. Life goes on. I prayed daily. For healing. For strength. Just to do a little more. And before I knew it, Friday had arrived. My husband was finally better and able to get at least one shift in for the whole week. Talk about a tiny paycheck though! And I have a family of 6 to make sure is fed. But God got us through that trial too. Did I freak out? Better believe I did!
Next week comes along. We are back to school. We are back on track. I carefully plotted out meals and we skimmed through with the basics. My husband started driving to a new site. It is an hour one way. So gas bill was a little higher. But it was all going to be okay. Right? His paycheck came through. Only a third of what we had planned on. Turned out the medical insurance double billed to get us for a backdated start on his benefits. I started seething. Who were they to pull this crap without notice?? But no. Back to believing that God's got this. I slipped up in my faith, but the truth is there. It's all going to be okay!
Week three was now over. And guess what we find? Check 3 is also cut down to maybe a third of what he should have taken home. Again with the insurance. So I sit here thinking, why bother caring anymore? This is life and it will be whatever it will be. We just have to keep skating through one task after another.
Life keeps on going
I wish I could say that I took this like a rolling punch. But it was more like a doubled over one. I wish I could say I had no frustration ripping through me. But I did. I'm a planner. I have Christmas to prepare for. I had projects I wanted to work on and places to check out. We moved to this new town and I want to know more about it! I'm a problem solver. But I feel as though there are too many problems weighing me down lately. At the end of the day. I sit back and say, Nothing more I can do. Just gotta make the best no matter what happens.
But that doesn't keep my anger down completely. That doesn't give me 100% unfailing confidence that everything will continue without a hitch. That we will prevail.
Instead it has me doing some serious searching. Questioning what is wrong with me. There has to be something wrong with me. I'm the only one having a problem right now. Kids have their moments. After being shut up at home with just each other and me, they get tired of the Monday - Friday grind too. Thankfully, they cheer up during the weekend. Saturday means there is a chance we will go to the library or grocery store. Sunday means church. And that all adds up to an escape. Not so much for me. I seem to want more out of the weekend.
One past weekend didn't have either of those happening. And that dark cloud rolled over me that I just couldn't seem to shake. I didn't even want to try. I just kinda shut down. Answering questions directed at me and otherwise silently went through the daily tasks lined up. I came to a realization. I have an adventurous spirit. I like exploring. Seeing new places. Heck, I even have moments where I think I might enjoy meeting new people and making friends. Not so often these days, but occasionally. Turns out, that is what is wrong with me! I'm physically broken, but my mind hasn't slowed down to join it. And even when I'm physically active, I'm married to a guy that is a home body. He is so tired of driving all week, that even if we have money and/or time he doesn't want to leave home. And even if I'm dying to go out, I can't bring myself to ask that of him. Besides, 3/4 of my kids don't like being away from home for long. My boys would rather sit in the game room, playing or watching their dad play. The youngest gets tired of walking and starts whining about going home, which frustrates me to the point of being done with whatever I'm attempting to enjoy.
I had hoped that our Thanksgiving Day weekend trip to my in-laws would be a shining reprieve. But the night before our trip, my husband and daughters started showing symptoms of sickness. It blew up suddenly. We got up before the sun the next morning and almost didn't make the trip at all. Let's just say our trip wasn't as glowing as we had hoped. Not quite nightmare stage, but got pretty close. My husband had an asthma attack that scared me. I'd never seen that happen before. He is always so careful with his asthma. And we all came down with symptoms that required around the clock medications.
A choice has to be made
I really don't know how I'm supposed to rectify this character trait in me. But I know it brings me to a choice. The same choice has to be made, over and over again. I can choose to stay in the dark cloud or I can choose to find joy. I can find my faith again. Tell myself that everything is going to get better. That everything is alright. Sometimes it starts as one choice, but later I turn the other way. Sometimes it requires me to accept what I can't change quietly. Sometimes I have to stop myself from getting my hopes up again or having higher expectations on anyone or anything else in my life. Only one has never disappointed me - God. So yes, I have to keep the faith. More accurately, I have to keep renewing it. It doesn't come naturally to all of us. It is an effort that has to be taken. With or without a prior struggle. I remind myself that though I "will have troubles in this world", that I must "be of good cheer" for He has "overcome the world". 1 John 16:33