Have you ever felt totally incompetent? Have you ever looked around and wondered if maybe you didn’t get the memo on how to live this life? Have you ever looked at your spouse, your children, your home, your yard, your school books, your kitchen, your laundry room and decided you must be an utter failure. Have you ever wanted to throw a pity party, but didn’t because you were afraid no one would come? Have you ever felt like you just didn’t measure up?
I’ve been there. I spend way too much time and energy wading in and out of what I call the Shame On Me Sea. In 2006, I wrote about this all-consuming sea:
Today, I took a look around the office/school room/sewing room/library/tv room/art room (yes, these are ALL the same room! LOL) and said to my husband, “Are you up for a little downsizing again?” Every so often we both get a little clutter-phobic and the only way to relieve this feeling is to pitch things. He was more than happy to grab the trash can for me and give me the green light to pitch to my heart’s content.
I started at the school room end and waded through all the books and papers and pens and pencils harbored there, but this was not done without a few serious epiphanies along the way.
I have more educational materials than I will ever be able to use.
It hadn’t been all that long ago that I had downsized and boxed up the unused curriculum, but there were still things on the shelves that I had apparently believed would come in handy someday. However, there were so many of these “handy” items, that I would NEVER be able to use them all, let alone REMEMBER they were even there!
I will NEVER be able to REMEMBER that I own some of these materials.
I’ve never had the greatest memory in the world, so what makes me think that when we get to the chapters on American Revolution that I am going to suddenly remember I have one CD with tons of radio shows on the subject (courtesy of Homeschool Radio Shows), a Vision Forum cassette on Christian controversies surrounding the founding fathers, a video taped off PBS on the war, scads of books, and even a large poster on the subject? I’m not! Plain and simple truth. And even IF I DID…could I possibly squeeze all of it in?
Which brings me to the number one epiphany/crisis of the day…
There are not enough hours in the day
but wait a second…God ordained a 24 hour day…WHY isn’t that enough???
As I sat there before my teeming homeschool closet and bookshelf and table and plastic totes, I felt overwhelmed by the massive amount of information I felt compelled to teach my children, knowing full well, I could NEVER manage to teach even half of what I WANTED to. But over-acheiver that I am, I could not accept this as “just the way things are” and move on. I had to analyze it.
My first thought was that I simply had much too much stuff and that no sane person could possibly fit in the amount of information I was hoping to fit in. (Seems plausible…but oh no, I had to dig further )
I started thinking about a friend of mine who seems to be able to do EVERYTHING and still have time to be a great mom! I know she’s not perfect, but in my moment of self-pity, I refused to accept this.
From here I jumped off into the great abyss I call the
Shame On Me Sea.
Shame On Me for not being better prepared for each school day.
Shame On Me for not getting all the school subjects in today.
Shame On Me for not searching out every book listed on the curriculum guide.
Shame On Me for not getting all the dishes/laundry/dusting done today.
Shame On Me for not doing devotions with the children today.
Shame On Me for forgetting to pray for my childrens’ future spouses.
Shame On Me for not taking the time to teach my 5 year old the womanly arts.
Shame On Me for not discussing politics with my 7 year old.
Shame On Me for…well, you get the picture.
There really is no end to this Sea. You just keep sailing in self-pity until you either sink, get stuck, or someone reels you in. Thankfully, my husband is a good fisherman!
Once I had rattled off my woes, he smiled and said, “I think you do a fantastic job!” As he drug me to shore, I cried, “Thanks! But I could do better!” So, as we sat on the beach (ok, he was in his recliner and I was in the office chair, but somehow those don’t really work with the whole analogy I’m painting here!) we then brainstormed about how both of us could regain the missing hours in our day and use them more efficiently for God’s glory.
I feel better. I still have high expectations. I still have goals I want to accomplish that may seem a bit lofty, but I know that God gave me 24 hours–plenty of time to accomplish exactly what HE wants me to accomplish. (Hopefully, I’ll have more to share about where I go from here–that is, if I stop trying to dip my toe in the Shame On Me Sea!)
Have I stopped dipping my toe? Sadly, no.
The reason I keep dipping my toe in the water (and sometimes becoming totally submerged) is because I think I see someone on the opposite shore having a beach party. I think if I swim around in a sea of self-pity for a while I will somehow end up over there.
The last few weeks have been trying ones. Not because of anything anyone could see outwardly, but because of all the things I was (am still am) dealing with inwardly. I wrote in my devotional “When You Face the Light,” about how we need to keep our faces turned toward the Lord in order to avoid the shadows. I need this admonition more than anyone! I feel I spend far too much time inwardly struggling because of what I see around me and my perceptions of what I see instead of being spurred on and encouraged by how the Lord is working in and through me. Next thing I know, I am caught up in a vicious cycle of comparing myself with others and never being content.
Once again, I have become aware of my utter hopelessness and my utter dependence on Jesus and the Word of the Lord. I have allowed shadows to creep in, I have turned my focus from the Light to my surroundings. I have jumped headlong into that Sea that has no mercy on me.
It is time to wade back to shore. It is time to fall on my face before the Throne of Grace and ask the Lord to guide my footsteps, guard my heart, and keep me focused.
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Tim 2:14,15