There are days when the sun is shining, and I have a good day with the kids.
We've shared laughter, meals and tickles.
Then, just when you've let down you 'guard' - and you start to pride yourself on being a pretty decent mama - things start to unravel.
Someone is whining about the texture of their snack.
The baby is shrieking because she can't figure out how to lay down to nap.
The constellation of crumbs under the table is growing.
Every where I look I just see chaos and need.
I feel my eye starting to twitch.
Then, it just takes one little thing for me to crash like a house of cards.
Maybe like the futility of picking up that certain toy for the millionth time today.
I start to fume inside.
The child pees next to the potty instead of in it.
I choke-hold the air in front of me.
The phone rings right when I'm changing a diaper.
I feel utterly exasperated.
At this point I'm ripe to explode.
On the inside.
(I told my husband we'd be rich if we could patent a 'scream room' for mamas who are having a meltdown. You know, just a sound proof - padded - space that we could have our own temper tantrum in.
Because I refuse to yell at my family, but if they were inside my head...)
Now, I've written before how isolating that moment feels, when you've seen such a beast of anger lurking within your own heart (confession post found here)... but I want to further share.
I think many of us step under a burden of discouragement at this stage.
Because after some 'blow out' of my anger, I fall into a sullen silent stage. Moping around the house, smothering my heart with a heaping yoke of guilt and contempt.
I feel like I've seen many people fall into this rut... and lose all hope of climbing out.
Maybe because this dark under belly of parenting caught us by surprise.
We were told that there would be diapers and delights with having children.
We likely weren't told there would be deep discouragement and despair.
Because, if you ever want to feel like you're a pretty decent person, don't have kids.
(Actually, just keep yourself isolated from any and all things that put enough pressure on your heart to push out all the nasty bits lurking beneath the surface).
But, if you want to grow and learn what grace looks like.. have kids.
The path that shows our inner ugly bits in the brightest light, is also the path that leads us to humility.
To be honest, I was having one of these melt-down moments this week.
In the wake of this discouragement I happened to pull a book of our shelf and find this quote:
"It is of great importance to guard against discouragement on account of our faults. Discouragement is not a fruit of humility, but of pride, and nothing can be worse. It springs from a secret love of our own excellence. We are hurt at feeling what we are. If we become discouraged we are the more enfeebled, and from our reflections on our own imperfections, a chagrin arises that is often worse than the imperfection itself. Poor nature longs from self-love to behold itself perfect; it is vexed that it is not so, it is impatient, haughty, and out of temper with itself and with everybody else. Sad state; as though the work of God could be accomplished by our ill-humor. As though the peace of God could be attained by our interior restlessness"
(quoting Fenelon from Hannah Whitall Smith's "The God of All Comfort")
I'm learning to find every trial and tempest that pushes me to despair in myself.. as a gift to look past myself.
Introspection in a bottomless vortex.
Guilt is a terrible motivator.
For me, looking to grace, looking outside myself to the Giver of grace, lifts my heart from this terrible rut. When I see the God who reaches down to me in my brokenness (instead of waiting for me to be 'good enough' or 'perfect enough' to reach up to the heavens), I see hope.
When I am discouraged, I need to have the courage to behold Christ.
Every time I fail, to fall upon His grace afresh.
"..Where sin abounds, grace abounded all the more" Romans 5:20.
So, let's not resent those children for pointing out our darkest parts.
Let's not resent our imperfection and stroke the ego till it's purrs again.
Let us throw aside the burden of pride, and take on the light yoke of humility.
The harder path is the better path in the end.