Last week was absolutely crazy.
I won’t go into all the details, but I will tell you that in the span of five days, we had a broken elbow, a freak snow storm, a husband on a business trip, a bloody head wound, a forgotten parent-teacher conference, and the news that we need to find a new place to rent and move within 35 days.
And out of all those things, you know which thing caused my major emotional breakdown?
My husband’s frantically rearranging his travels plans because of the snow while my boys totally wrecked their bedrooms, pulling mattresses off their beds – jumping, wrestling, and screaming. The bloody head wound and news about the rental place hadn’t even happened yet. But the abrupt shift in plans, combined with worry over the bad roads and feeling like I’d taken a sudden back seat to a business trip reduced me to a blubbering, snotty, tearful mess.
When we got the huge news that we’d have to move out of this house as quickly as possible (the owner originally said his business partner would prefer we move in five days – ha!), I was annoyed but not overly stressed. Friends were in a panic on my behalf, but I was oddly calm.
I’ve noticed that about myself. Big, life-changing, majorly stressful things – I handle with a peaceful strength and grace. I know those things are too big for me, so I pray and wait to watch God work.
I had casually been looking for a new rental house for months. There had been nothing that seemed really suitable for our family. Either the rent was too high or the street was dangerously busy or the house was smaller than we’d prefer. I knew that finding a house and moving in 35 days was way beyond me. So I prayed. I got the word out to friends and I called realtors and I searched the internet. But I didn’t feel frantic. Because I knew – this was not a Jenn-sized problem; it was a God-sized problem.
In the past, God has provided for our big needs in some pretty amazing ways. He’s proven Himself over and over again. So I reminded myself of those times (or maybe God’s Spirit reminded me), and I naturally trusted God to show up and be God and provide.
So the big things don’t seem to frazzle me all that much. A lost job during a pregnancy, needing to find a place to live, cutting the income by more than half to become missionaries, major medical issues — all those things were stressful but I didn’t become undone by them.
But when my kids goof off instead of help clean up before company is coming or when they throw granola bar wrappers on the floor instead of walking to the trash can or when they are all bickering and fussing — my goodness! I become one big hot mess in a snap!
It’s the little things that undo me. You know, the things I think I ought to be able to handle on my own. Because, seriously, I should be able to handle cleaning the house without supernatural power from On High! I should be able to get six kids out the door on-time without a jolt of heavenly help. I should be able to help a fourth grader with math homework without God Himself sitting down with us to give a momma a hand.
But that’s a lie.
Oh, I can do those things, but I sure can’t do them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! I can get the house cleaned; but when I try to do it on my own, I morph into a fire-breathing dragon of a momma who spews out orders and screeches when the kids get distracted and stop helping. We can get somewhere on-time, but usually at least two children are in tears before we get out of the driveway and I end up apologizing for yelling when we arrive at our destination. I can help with the math homework, but the fourth grader normally has a handful of explosive outbursts and I usually have one or two of my own.
I know God provides for the big things. He gives strength and peace and often works in what seems like miraculous ways to meet my needs.
But I need constant reminders that God is with me in the little things too. He is right here; His Spirit is inside me! He wants to give me the patience and joy and peace and love to handle the small things, the daily things, the routine moments of life.
The truth is — I can’t handle any of it on my own. I can’t do anything well in my own power. I’m not patient enough or kind enough. I don’t have enough self-control. But I can do all things through Christ. And when I abide in Him, keeping my mind focused on Him, being always aware of my need for Him, His character flows into and out of me. And I can face the small stresses with love and joy and peace and patience.
When I fix my mind on God, praying often throughout my day, filling my mind with His Word and songs of praise and encouragement, when I ask Him for help moment-by-moment in my day, He provides in the little moments just like He does in the big crises. And even a crazy week can’t take me down.