Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ever Feel Like You're Drowning?

If you met me at a social gathering or party, you would most likely think I'm a pretty happy, contented person...and I am.  I'd like to think that most of my friends and family think I'm a fun person to be around...and I usually am.  What people don't always know or see in me is the internal struggles.  I don't think that's all too strange.  I am pretty sure that we all have internal struggles whether or not they are ever revealed to another.  I remember hearing a good friend tell me that she was a "crier" and I was totally shocked; in all the years that we'd been friends, I had never seen her cry.  I heard a quote today on the radio, and although I missed the reference, the quote impacted me immediately and deeply:  "If you could see where your enemy weeps, he would no longer be your enemy."  Wow...tears even now as I type those words!  I guess this speaks volumes to me because deep down, we human beings are so alike.  We have feelings, needs, dreams, fears, challenges, insecurities, and struggles.  No matter how a person may come across in your presence, there is a place where he weeps.  

Now, I know that not every person reacts to life in the same way, but we all struggle in some capacity...don't we?  One of my deepest struggles is directly related to one of my deepest desires.  I don't think that is all too strange either.  I am choosing to reveal a part of me to anyone who reads this because I hope that it gives freedom and strength to someone else.  I think we strengthen others when we allow ourselves to be be seen.  One of my deepest desires is to be a wonderful mom--not just a good mom, but a wonderful mom.  I have desired to be a wonderful mom for as long as I can even remember.  It's not that I have no other aspirations; I do!  But, this one stands so far above and in front of all the rest and it has all of my life!  I truly cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't dream of motherhood; I have always had a desire to raise children--to love, nurture, and teach them.  Well, what person who wants to be a doctor, lawyer, or teacher hopes to be just average?  We want to be really good at what we choose to do!  And, being a mom is not just something that I have chosen to do.  It's a part of who I am.  I don't clock out at the end of the day!  Heck, even if I tried to, someone would have a bad dream or throw up at midnight and that notion would be out the window!  I am a mom and I want to be an absolutely wonderful mom to my children.  I'm sure most moms reading this are saying, "Me too!".  

So what is the struggle?  What's the problem?  The struggle for me is that I continually feel the burden and heaviness of the realization that I am not a wonderful mom.  At best, I am a good mom...sometimes.  I am not sharing this for pity or sympathy.  I am simply sharing this because it's my internal struggle--probably one of my deepest internal struggles.  I don't go to bed nightly crying about my failures, but at times, I am unable to shake them off.  I am my own worst critic.  I am a deep thinker and a very deep feeler.  I've often wondered what specific purpose God had in mind when He made me so sensitive and emotional.  I hope I understand that in time.  Every now and then, I get a glimpse, but the rest of the time it just feels like a thorn in my side.  I take so much to heart:  I weigh every word, examine every expression.  I take it all to God, but oh so often I take it right back from Him.  

One of the biggest battles for me to overcome is that I judge my own success as a mom on how I see my kids behaving and how I think other people perceive me as a mom.  I know, I know...we should not do this!  I fully know how wrong this is on so many levels, but this is my battle!  It happens inside of me without my conscious knowledge sometimes.  I find my emotions stirring so strongly in a negative direction and wonder what happened.  When I take time to reflect, I might recall a brief comment made by someone about my child's words or actions...or my discipline...or lack thereof.  I feel criticized.  I judge myself and determine that I'm guilty of being a poor, average, or (on a good day) good mom....but certainly not a wonderful mom.  And those negative traits that my children have, all too often I feel that they are solely my fault.

When I am thinking rationally, when my emotions are in tact, I fully understand that they are children and that they are walking out this life with very young eyes, hearts, and minds.  They're learning things for the first time.  I realize this and am okay with this.  I just wish I could silence all of my enemies.  What I mean is that I wish others' words and opinions about me and my children didn't carry so much weight with me!  People will always have opinions about my children, my parenting, and how we run our home.  I don't want another person's perception of my children or my parenting to cause me undue stress.  When a family member mutters under her breath that my son has had to be corrected 100 times, I want to consider the source rather than to feel hurt.  I want to take it lightly rather than to feel criticized.  I also want to learn from situations that which God wants me to learn.  I don't want to draw my own conclusions.

I had a meaningful conversation recently with a mom who I adore and respect wholeheartedly.  Her children are older than mine so she has experiences and wisdom from which I can glean.  She referenced the days when her children were toddlers and said, "I so often felt like I was drowning."  When she said those words, I had such peace on the inside of me.  Strange, huh?  Here's why:  I have told my husband those exact words several times over the past year, especially while home schooling my two sons.  I have cried out to God in the middle of the day or in the midnight hour, "God, I feel like I am drowning!"  I look around at so many friends, family members, and acquaintances who all seem to be doing so much better than me at this job of being a wonderful mom.  Some of them just take everything in stride and never let ya see them sweat.  Some have the most gentle, kind, thoughtful, well-mannered kids.  Some are so creative and resourceful and full of wisdom that it takes my breath away.  Then there's me.  I am trying, and yet...sometimes I feel like I'm drowning.  I feel like I mess up so often that it's all I can do to keep my head above water, just enough, as my friend said, "to reach for Jesus."  Well, to hear someone who I respect so immensely, who is a fantastic mom, say that she felt as I so often feel...brought peace to my soul.

At least I can see Him!  I know who to grab for!  I'm thankful that I can see Him.  And, I may never be or feel like a wonderful mom, but I will never stop trying.  Neither will I ever cease reaching for the only one who can lift me up out of every pit, out of every raging sea.  Sometimes He doesn't lift us up as fast as we wish He would.  Sometimes, for reasons that I often do not understand, He allows us to deeply feel wounds and to experience regret or criticism.  He often allows our failures and weaknesses to be magnified.  If we always felt confident and sure, then we may never reach for Him.  If we think we can do this thing on our own, then we might miss out on His plan and His help.  I don't want to miss out on His help for me as a mom or on His plan for my children's lives.  So, if I must feel weak, then in weakness I'll seek Him.  If I must struggle, then in struggle I'll look for Him.  If I must sometimes feel like I'm drowning, then in drowning I'll reach for His hand.  And in His time, He will pull me up!