Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adjust Your Expectations...You are Stronger Than You Think!

Last week I had a new experience of being a stay-at-home mom of 4 youngsters for 4 days while Daddy went on his first business trip.  Approaching the week, I think that my husband may have been more concerned than I was.  Of course, he was concerned about our overall safety, etc., but there was more to it:  he was worried that the stress would be too much for me.  In his defense, this is entirely my fault!  I have come to depend on him immensely; I depend on the support of an outstanding father to my children all the time.  He is immersed in their lives, adoring of them, and a constant help to me.  The day-to-day stress of raising 4 children--home schooling also--can be quite a lot to handle at times.  When the stress feels overwhelming, I know that I can depend on my husband to help relieve some of it for me.  And he is glad to do so.  I have many friends who could echo this about their husbands and it really is a blessing!  Having said that, I too often release the cares of my day onto my husband, rather than onto the Lord.  Not that it's wrong to share my feelings and experiences of the day, but when I dump them on my husband first (rather than in the lap of God), I am placing a burden on my husband.  This burden, I believe, is not altogether wrong, but has the propensity to cause undue concern.  So, the fact that my husband was probably more worried about how I'd do for 4 days without his help, is due to how I handle my role as a mom and....my expectations of how I handle this job!

I had a conversation with a good friend on the third night sans Daddy.  She asked how things had been going.  I had recently been asking myself that question.  You see, on a day-to-day basis, I sometimes feel as though I may not make it to bedtime with my head screwed on.  However, while preparing for my husband's business trip, I kept telling myself, "We will be just fine!  I can do this!"  So, my answer to her question was, "You know, it's been really fine!"  "The kids have been behaving better than normal; they've played together nicely most of the time."  "We've really been okay and I feel fine about the whole thing."  As we talked, I told her it was as if God had allowed everything to go more smoothly since I'd been without Ron's help.  She agreed that this could be, but she posed another thought, "Maybe you adjusted your expectations of yourself and so you've felt better about your time."  Light bulb!  I responded, "You know, you might be right!"  "I kept telling myself we'd get through these days, and we're doing just fine!" 

You know, our expectations of ourselves can be very complex.  We think certain ways, therefore we talk certain ways...which leads us to think certain ways...and respond in certain ways.  You see the pattern?  You are what you eat, well maybe, but you really are what you speakAs one pastor said, we frame our world with our words!  I am not taking any credit for this idea; it's been the topic of motivational speaking and Bible teaching forever.  And there is truth to it!  It's really not new to me, but this recent experience put it into new perspective.  I have certain daily expectations of myself based on what I am thinking (or saying to myself).  I react accordingly.  I've had days that were really okay, overall, but I allowed just a few negative incidents to overshadow the entire day.  By the time my husband walks through the door, I unload it all!  (....as if I hardly survived it!)  I know, how ridiculous!  Then, I find myself irritated when he worries about me surviving 4 days with the kids without him!  Well, this is my fault!  You see, we also train other people to react to us based on what we expect of ourselves.  Examine your relationships and you'll see that this is true!  Sometimes, I feel disappointed that my in-laws don't offer to watch my kids more often (as they do for my husband's sisters).  Ron reminds me that they probably assume I really don't need much help; you know, the squeaky wheel gets the oil!  And, in this example, I present myself to his family as one who handles being a stay-at-home mom of 4 with little struggle.  But, as I explained earlier, my husband has seen all of the emotions-on-edge. 

This certainly could be a subject of intense study, and I'm not necessarily trying to dissect it all.  But, as my friend and I talked (and the light bulb went off) I realized I could probably adjust my expectations for every day...and every situation.  If I approached every day with the expectation of, "I can handle this~of course I can handle this~it's not too much," then how different might my attitude be at the end of the day!  So, we got through my husband's time away without a hitch!  We really did!

Then Sunday came, and you will not believe what the visiting Pastor at our church talked about.  Ready for this?  You can handle the pressure because you were made by Almighty God to handle it!  I'm not making this up!  He reminded us that we should not shy away from pressure (when the going gets tough) because we need it to perfect us!  I am not going to re-preach his message, but I am literally shaking with excitement as I recall his words.  Engineers test products for pressure-capacity (or something like that) and we are engineered by God in Heaven to handle what pressure comes our way too!  When it seems like it's too much, that's good because we lean on the One who knows we'll get through!  We've heard the cliche,"What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."  Well, there is truth in those words!  There is biblical truth, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)  I believe that part of that way out is speaking about ourselves what God says about us, despite what we feel, "Let the weak say 'I am strong'."

So, needless to say, I have been so encouraged and strengthened in these past few days.  As much as my children and I missed my husband (and as glad as I am that he's safely home), I am so thankful that he left us for a few days!  I could do it again!  Even more amazing, I can do today!  I can accomplish everything that I am supposed to do in this life because I am created in such a way that I am able to handle it!  I can handle the pressure!  All I have to do is adjust my expectations!  All you have to do is adjust your expectations--you are stronger than you think!

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