There are times when I feel guilty about not writing enough blog posts. I mean, what are you doing with your free time if not meandering through my thoughts? I hate to think of you refreshing my homepage over and over, just hoping and wishing and yearning for more SeeMamaRead brilliance!
To be honest, I write posts as they come to me. There are times when my creative cup overfloweth and I delight the world with sparking sarcasm and sparkling wit. Other times, though, that cup trickles. And most times I funnel that halting river into other venues (i.e. writing a YA novel or inventing bedtime stories for Olivia).
Then there are times, like today, when I didn’t have a decent idea until one smacked me in the face. I’m not 100% certain how to tackle this one, but I’m going to let the mask slip a little bit. I usually try to keep the mask in place, making you think I’m a put-together, hilarious gem of a woman. I try to keep my mask fairly transparent, as I prefer honesty over drama. However, I think everyone keeps their exterior somewhat separate from their interior. Do I really want all of you seeing how ugly my thoughts can be? Do I want to see what you really think of me all the time? I promise, that separation keeps my marriage stronger that complete transparency would. Sometimes the mind thinks some horrible things (on its own! with zero provocation!).
Anyway, enough prologue.
A sweet friend of mine (hi, Caroline!) gave me the Prayer Journal for Women by Shannon Roberts for Christmas (thanks, Caroline!). It’s a beautiful weekly journal with prompts for prayer requests, journaling, gratitude, learning moments, etc. Surprisingly, I’ve never done a prayer journal before, so I’m excited to get started. It’s an especially good year for this, as we’re in the middle of our adoption (and I never can seem to predict what God has in store!).
Side note about the adoption: We’ve been approved by the U.S. government to adopt, and our paperwork has been sent to China. We’re waiting to get logged into the Chinese system, then we’ll be waiting to officially match with a kiddo!
The very first Bible verse in my new journal is James 1:19, which reads, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quiet to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
I’ve read that verse before, and, yes, it’s always convicting. I mean, who doesn’t need an extra dose of patience? Doesn’t everyone only “listen” in order to answer? Surely I’m not the only one who interrupts someone talking to quickly wedge in my opinion?
This time, though, the wily journal asked some follow-up questions:
Have you ever lost your temper, or jumped to a conclusion? How did these experiences make you feel? God calls us to listen thoughtfully, to be slow to speak, and to keep our tempers under control. Are any of these things difficult for you? Why do you think this is? Have you shared your heart with God?
After those questions was a large space for me to answer in an essay format. As one who struggles to leave any blanks, I took a moment to think through an answer, then put pen to paper.
When I think of what sets me off these days, it always revolves around my children. While I’ve never been the most patient person, I never knew this level of frustration raged inside me…until I had children. And I’m a stay-at-home mom! My children are with me 24/7. By choice! Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way, but that doesn’t change the challenge.
I have a question: Is it entirely possible to hide that ugliness inside? I’ve always considered myself to be a generally nice person. Yes, I’m a Christian, so I know I was born with sin embedded in my DNA. I’m never going to be good enough to get to Heaven on my own, but I can still be mostly good and nice, right? Even without supernatural assistance from God? Can’t I simply pull myself up by my emotional bootstraps and be an adult?
Apparently, left to my own, I’m an impatient, short-fused 31-year-old who responds with brutal sarcasm and frustration to her 5-year-old instead of kindness and understanding. There’s a rage simmering inside, and, frankly, it’s dark and angry.
What is that?
Why is that?
I love these two children. They are the light of my life. My life would be significantly emptier without these two. I even miss them when they sleep too long! So…
Why do I feel like I have zero control?
OK, zero control is a bit much, but still! Even when I pray, “Lord, please give me an extra dose of patience with my children today,” it takes about three minutes of listening to them bicker to dig into my skull. Clearly, it’s not about my ability to fix myself. I can’t fix myself. I have to rely on God’s plan to work within me, because I don’t choose kindness or gentleness on my own. Sigh.
I know I’m not alone in this, but I really had no idea how ugly things could get behind the mask. Thank God he loves me exactly as I am, because, phew! I’d have no prayer otherwise.
…and that was just Day 1 of this prayer journal. Deep breaths, friends. It could be a long year!
When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan
Some of this post’s introspection has to do with Jeannie Gaffigan’s book. Two years ago, an MRI discovered a large, pear-shaped tumor in her brain. As the wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan and mother of their five children, her life was incredibly busy. The tumor stopped her in her tracks and made her take stock of her life choices. I’ve already raved about my love for Jim Gaffigan, and his wife seems fantastic. Definitely worth a read, even if it does make you worry that your headache is due to an unknown, fruit-shaped tumor plaguing your brain.
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