Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know all that lies beneath the surface, all the worries, the fears, the anxieties. It comes out as frustration and impatience, but really, it is all about fear and worry--that I am not doing enough or doing the right things, or raising my kids right or teaching them the things that really matter. I worry about our money and how we spend it. I worry about our kids and their problems and choices, and what I can do to help and teach them better. I worry about my health and my stress level. I worry when Papa Rooster and I aren't on the same page. I feel lonely sometimes, even in the midst of a large and noisy family, even in a church filled with good friends. Sometimes I just want someone to hold me and let me cry on their shoulder. It's hard always being the grown-up.
But you have called me your child and told me to call you Father. You have instructed me to give all my cares and anxieties to you. You want me to find strength in you, not in myself. You have said not to worry about tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own.
Yet you also have given us a whole book of instructions teaching us to be wise and not foolish, the Proverbs, which strongly recommend thought for the future, responsibility and hard work...so I know it is not wrong to have these concerns. It is my attitude of worry, rather than trust, that is wrong.
I have to do my part: mothering, housekeeping, budgeting, taking care of myself, teaching my kids and communicating with my husband. But I don't have to bear the whole weight of responsibility for how well or how badly it all turns out. In fact, I have no control over outcomes. I act as though I do, quick to blame myself for anything that goes wrong, thinking I should have managed things better, and quick to self-congratulate when things go well. But I don't have to live as if it all depends on me--Heaven forbid! In my weakness, you are strong. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In repentance and rest is my salvation, in quietness and trust is my strength.
I was catching up with a friend last week, sharing some current worries, and she said comfortingly that those are really hard things to walk through. I laughed and told her that actually, these things feel relatively inconsequential compared to the stress I've carried for the past few years, which is finally lifting a bit in several areas, and I'm actually feeling emotionally lighter than I have in a long time. Suddenly, the tears began to flow, and my friend pulled me in and hugged me tight as I sobbed. I wasn't sure why I was crying, but it felt like such a relief just to say out loud that things had been really hard.
I do tell God, daily, how weak and helpless I feel. I do pray fervently for his intervention in my life and circumstances. I do have friends to share my struggles with. I think I mostly put my trust in God, and I often experience His joy and peace even in the midst of difficulty and struggle. I can be my bubbly, cheerful self and it's not an act. But it is also true that it takes energy to hold myself together when I just want to fall apart. It is stressful when I can't be completely open about struggles with one of our teens or in my marriage. It takes energy to be the anchor of the family when I feel like running away. I get tired of being strong. It can even be an effort to trust God, when I am so tempted to give in to anxiety and fear.
These have been stressful years, and they have taken a toll. They have been harder than they needed to be; I know I have trusted too much in my own strength to get through them. But as I write, I can give thanks to God for his strength and help, his mercy and care--and his grace. I am amazed at His answers to my prayers. In each of the areas that have been so difficult, I can rejoice in the ways He is working. He is managing outcomes that I could not have engineered, couldn't have dreamed of or hoped for. All are still works in progress, not free of concern or stress yet. But God's work, not mine, is so evident. It is proof that I can trust, that I can lean, that I don't have to be anxious or worried.
Still, it's a hard habit to break. Oh Lord, forgive my unbelief.
In your weakness, I am strong. Apart from Me, you can do nothing. In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.
Lord, have mercy, daily, upon me.