Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Modeling Humility for the Children

Today was a long, hard day characterized by non-stop deep-cleaning of the bedrooms. We take better care of common areas than we do the bedrooms, so it was time to take a snow day and get busy. I rarely give my children snow days or cold weather days as the local school district does, so there was no guilt in this decision, but I definitely wanted it done in one day.

Thus, the non-stop pace. Being a very goal-oriented person and knowing my kids don't do well with too much time off, I put a lot of pressure on myself to finish by evening, working hard from 10 AM on, only stopping to eat a sandwich while standing up.

We got all the junk out from under the beds and off surfaces and processed all the paper, dust, and unneeded stuff.

Boy that's a good feeling, and it makes the bedrooms easier to dust and vacuum in a snap.

The master bedroom was the worst; that's where stuff is stashed when I don't have time to process clutter before guests arrive. I was so ashamed of that room, yet there was never a chunk of time to tackle it.

The kids did a share of the work, then had free time while I finished up--free time that led to more messes. I tried hard to curb my growing irritation, but near dinner a headache pounded, so off we went to the pharmacy for my Imitrex, as well as to Little Ceasar's.

If you're a mom, you know what it's like. Sometimes you just have to stop everything and deal with clutter to get your sanity back. And when you've knocked yourself out and the rooms look smashing and ultra-organized, you probably expect some praise or at least a thank-you.

My kids were very grateful and full of praise, knowing how hard I worked. They went to bed in very nice looking rooms, happily. I'd even made special places for their stuffed animals, which thrilled them.

But hubby? It wasn't good. 

The pharmacy didn't have my prescription ready so we returned with me still sporting a pounder, already having tried the over-the-counters.

Hubby got home and went into the bedroom to get something. He paused more than usual, surveyed the room, and only came out to say, "Where are my CD's?"

Oh, man. That didn't go over too well for me. That room looked superb, after looking like trash for weeks, and that's all he has to say? Did he even have a clue how much paperwork and clutter I went through to thoroughly clean in there?

Exhausted and head-achy and mad, I could only think of how much he's becoming like his father. Mean-spirited, never praising, never appreciating anything...or so it seems.

In front of the kids I told him he's becoming just as mean as his dad and why couldn't he at least say the room looks nice?

When I'm mad he says nothing, always waiting for a calm wife to address anything that was said. He's amazing that way and I love him for it. Because of it, we aren't fighters. The Lord works on me, and him, separately, and then we move on easily, understanding each other without many words. I always apologize humbly for carelessly thrown words or wrong attitudes, and he always sees where he might be wrong, without me having to explain anything further.

As soon as the belittling comment left my lips I was horribly ashamed, but too shaken and exhausted to do anything about it just then. I went off by myself to finish the vacuuming while they ate pizza. Then, because I was still mad about being overworked and under-appreciated, I let loose some anger on the kids for their messes during the day, which still lay unattended.

So, that was my day. Productive yet shameful, and too much pressure on myself.

They're all in bed now and I'm just sitting here, feeling oh-so-humbled, analyzing it all in the quiet of the night.

I don't know what I would do without this time alone in the quiet of the night to process my day, my feelings, my shortcomings and my sins. It's a time to pray and process Scripture and listen to the Holy Spirit, before writing out what He wants from me.

My husband's love language is quality time and mine is affirming words, though these days I do fine as long as people aren't hurtful with their words; I no longer need much affirming, as long as there isn't a lot of criticizing.

Despite understanding love languages, I'm not very good about spending time with him and he's not very good about being appreciative or affirming. Somehow, the marriage grows in grace nevertheless, with the commitment unwavering. We need to be educated in love languages to understand where a spouse is coming from, but we don't learn new tricks easily.

My husband's father was a critical man who never praised his wife for anything, no matter how hard she worked at home. My husband is an improved version of his father--not generally critical, but he does take my work for granted most of the time, which I'm used to and handle fine on typical days. As he gets older I see more of his father in him and I wonder how I'll handle it.

I'm afraid to ask if he sees my mother in me, but he's spent very little time with her, so I think I'm safe for now, even though I must admit my temper to myself and to God.

That's got to be a pretty universal thing among spouses, I would think...or maybe it's just me. You think you're seeing the worst of your father-in-law in your husband. Or a husband sees the worst of his mother-in-law in his wife. Probably true, but probably exaggerated in our minds as well.

Some time ago I realized I would never become the perfect, submissive wife. My kids would never see in me the biblical model of womanhood...or at least not consistently. So I began to pray about my weaknesses in front of them. I wanted them to understand that marriage is about continually praying you'll get better. Better at respecting your husband. Better at loving your wife. Better at forgiving. Better at being kind to an overtired, overworked spouse. Better at turning the other cheek. Better at praying for the marriage, for the spouse, for one's own humility before God.

At the end of the day, the message is the same from the Holy Spirit. I don't have to be the perfect wife or mother. I just need to be a humble wife and mother who leads her children to Jesus by going ahead of them, to His loving, redeeming arms, asking yet again for His forgiveness and blessing.

In the morning during devotions with the kids, I'll apologize and confess my impatience and harsh words, and ask that the Lord make me a submissive, loving wife, and a kindly, gentle mother.

We can't be good, so we better be humble. Once we realize we'll never be good, we grow in grace.

Do you have days like that? When you try to please everyone, only to end up making a fool of yourself?


Anonymous said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. You reacted to the stress. I'm not surprised! You have so much on your shoulders and you carry it with grace and humility most of the time. Thank you for being brave enough to write this. I am glad I'm not the only one who slips up sometimes, especially when I'm stressed or tired. I agree about apologising. It is so important to apologise to our family. How else do we model the fact that we're broken-but-saved and that grace changes us? You are a very special person and your husband is clearly a special person, too. Thank God for patient husbands :-)

Christine said...

Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone, too. Love you, Sandy!