Four weeks.... I couldn't believe it. Four, long, weeks. That is how long it had been since we last partook in our regular homeschool schedule.... in a regular anything schedule. Two of those weeks were pre-scheduled for spring break but ALL of them were spent with someone in the household sick, of which I, as mother in charge, took care of.... until I became ill.
Four weeks. Reflecting and relieved to get back into our routine Monday morning, post-spring break and done with illness... or so I thought. My youngest son shot out of the gate with a fever ranging from 100.9-102.7, depending on whether he had just chucked back ibuprofen or not. I wasn't going to let that deter me. He could rest, my girls could help with the extra chores and do their lessons. I'm especially insistent because my oldest daughter has one year left and that will be spent in dual enrollment, she really needs the focus after missing so much school this year from illness (the last 4 weeks aren't all she has missed).... until she woke Tuesday morning as bad as her brother had been 2 days before.... and he still wasn't better either.
I felt weary. I felt crushed. Still trying to corral strength which left in the first round of my own illness and hasn't fully returned. Can I just have a mommy vacation and come back when everyone is well again?
Hubby came home for lunch and as I took the orders to fry up grill cheese and boil soup, nothing seemed to be going right. The morning had been a flop, I felt like I was pulled twenty different directions and I was just ready to scream. I tried to bite my tongue so he wouldn't regret his choice to see his family mid-day but it was growing harder. Returning him to work so I could have use of the car, I thought it would help to vent so I complained through half the ride to his office, until he, in his own way, reminded me I needed to 'chill'. My venting was turning into an explosion.
I was destructive and becoming more and more wreck-less. Really, can I pleeeeease run away? My youngest was with and after we dropped her father off we made our way to the grocery store for more soup and ginger ale and 5 minutes of no demands. In her kind, sweet way she gently spoke with wisdom beyond her 12 years,
"You know, I try not to complain anymore. Pastor at youth group was telling us that when we complain we are basically ignoring God and focusing more on ourselves."
She carefully glanced over at me as I pushed the cart out of the soda beverage isle, our Ginger Ale secure in the basket. I smiled and laughed lightly, "Boy, I needed to hear that. Did you say that for me?" I fully expected her to reply 'no', that she was merely sharing.... but in her humbled modesty she flashed a bashful smile and quietly said "yes", nodding her head, seeming to inwardly dare herself to boldly keep her eyes on me and not look away, though I could tell she wanted to.
I looked away, I couldn't hold the gaze through quiet conviction, my emotions were a mixture. This youngest daughter of mine is too tenderhearted to ever deliberately wound someone. She was simply being honest and seeking to gently restore me to Truth. I didn't have the heart to be upset. What was more.... I knew she was right.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you,
both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing,
that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
- Philippians 2:12-16
As I pondered her words, knowing in my heart scripture confirmed them, I realized the example I was setting. My mounting frustration that morning had threatened to teach my children that illness is a burden not just to self but to others. My lack of grace and loving actions did not reflect my desire to teach my children compassion. My Actions did nothing to point them to Christ. I was ashamed. My children were a gift and this season of illness and set-back was only a trial and an opportunity to show my love for them and teach them about tender care through my own actions. I knew, too, it wasn't too late to repent and try again.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and gave a deep-hearted thank you for her kind reminder. I then purposed within myself to spend the rest of our excursion focusing on the positive and NOT complaining! I meditated on the fact God allowed this season of illness and extra work. He desires I glorify Him in the trial and draw near to Him in my weakness. I don't want to be self focused.... I want to be God focused. I want to be counter-cultural in how I handle distress in order to be a light.... His light in this world.
When I returned home I sat down and texted my husband an apology. I shared our daughter's wisdom and he heartily agreed. I feel grateful and blessed that at a time when I felt I was pouring so much of myself into my children I was about to run dry.... one of them answered the Call to pour back into me with rivers of fresh water.
I pray, when your world seems to much and you are tempted to complain yourself into an explosive disaster, that you would pause, look up, and trust the hand of God on your heart and situation. Know, He will work ALL things out for the good of those who love him.... even if it seems like you are taking the long way around!!