Recently one of my dearest friends called to tell me she had my next blog topic. She’d been at a women’s Bible study where they were discussing their crazy busy lives. After the moms in the group had lamented their situations, one of the ladies shared her “simple” solution which began with the phrase,
“All you need to do is just…”
In this case, the solution was prepare freezer meals. My friend is practically a gourmet cook and couldn’t think of how that would be an appropriate solution for her problem. She is one of the most accomplished women I know – a very successful attorney with her own practice and also the mother of a toddler and an infant. She also finds time to minister to others at her church, help people organize their houses and lives, as well as just simply be a good friend and encourager. I’m sure there are thousands of other things she does…oh and she and her husband built a 2nd story addition on their home…themselves…while she was pregnant with number 2. So, yeah…I don’t know if freezer meals are the answer to her already busy life. The amazing thing about this friend is that she is more than able to handle all that she has allowed to be placed on her plate…if she doesn’t shower daily. I’m kidding…sorta.
She and I talked about how women really do expect that we can do it all. I am here to tell you in big bold faced letter
I CAN’T DO IT ALL…
IN FACT, I CAN’T DO MOST OF IT.
There I said it.
Even this exceedingly amazing friend of mine admits she can’t. Oh, we can give it a try, but really it isn’t very pretty most, if not all, of the time.
I’m sure the lady that suggested freezer meals had the best of intentions. We all do, don’t we? We all want to help each other to discover the next best thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put my hope in some product or idea or chart or book that was going to finally make me organized, patient, or thin.
I’m always exceedingly disappointed, because the answer doesn’t lie in my doing something differently, more efficiently, or even better…although all those things would be phenomenal! I believe as the saying goes it is more about being than doing.
What if when we were all sitting around the coffee table sharing our struggles, frustrations and fears, we offered each other the hope of the gospel? What if we listened, comforted and empathized, but didn’t try and provide yet another thing to add to our ridiculous to do lists…the ones written down with all the phone calls, emails, chores, and projects we need to accomplish or the ones we keep in our heads that include all our hopes as well as all our failings…you know the lists I’m referring to right?
What if we simply loved one another? What if we shared our struggles but also the hope we found in Scripture. Maybe it would look like this,
Me. “I’m so overwhelmed. I feel like I simply can’t keep one thing moving in the right direction. I read books about parenting that convict me and condemn me all at the same time. I feel hopeless. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be the mom I’m supposed to be for these children. How can I expect them to be kind, patient, loving and slow to anger when half the time I’m frustrated, impatient, unkind and angry? I know I need more sleep…but how? I know I need to exercise…but what do I stop doing? I know I need to get my home in order…but these little people keep messing it up behind me. I know I need to prepare healthy food and snacks…but how do I do that with the schedule we are keeping? What do I give up? Who do I say no to? If I could I would…I’m down to bare minimum involvement in church, school and activities and still I’m crushed by our schedule. There is no way around it with 1 parent and 5 children.”
A Friend. “I can’t imagine what you are feeling. I know it must be so difficult. Please know that God gave you those sweet children because He knew you were the woman for the job. God wanted you, with your personality, struggles and situation, to be their Momma. You and those 5 children is not a mistake. And God has a plan in the midst of this. Remember that verse you love, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13) God is the Father your children really need…and He is the husband you need. He will help you, friend. He won’t leave you or forsake you. He’s got your back. Lean on Him. I will pray that the Holy Spirit will help you see Christ more clearly and that your circumstances will dim in comparison. That you will find that peace which passes all understanding to guard your heart and your mind in Him. That your heart will overflow with gratefulness for the children you have been entrusted with. That you will know how very much you are loved by me and by Him. Can I pray for you right now?”
That’s just an idea. I mean sometimes it might be that you just say, “I’m so sorry. I’ll pray for you.” I always find it such a blessing when friends say what they are going to pray for me or even pray for me right then and there. I love it!
I was talking with a friend at church recently about all the unsolicited advice she gets. I believe we single moms get A LOT of advice we don’t ask for…or want. It’s not always easy to receive it gracefully. I told this friend that I think I’d like to get a t-shirt made up that says, “Just Shut Up and Pray for Me!”
I confess I can’t because my family is anti-shut-up, although you wouldn’t necessarily know that since we all say it and then instantly someone says, “Hey, you can’t say shut up!” It’s a struggle. I’m trying to decide if it is a hill I want to “die on.” But that’s a conversation for another blog.
My point…after all this blathering…is that I want to encourage us all to offer each other some grace…or a lot of grace. Let’s give each other the freedom to share without condemnation or recommendations. Let’s extend encouragement and understanding instead of instructions and ideas.
Let’s be honest – most of us know exactly what we need to do practically in order to get our lives in order. We just find it hard to do it. Life is difficult. Growth is a process. Grace is continual.
What I’d like to add at the end of that phrase is this… “All you need to do is just…
know you are loved unconditionally
regardless of what you accomplish in a day
regardless of the words that fall out of your mouth on a bad day
regardless of the state of your home
regardless of the behavior of your children
regardless of the comments of others
you are loved unconditionally.
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19