Blessings feeling like burdens

Having it all image

I joined a small group at our church for the first time in the four years we’ve been attending. The group is studying Timothy and members are all women in their 20s and 30s. Some are single, others married, and others have 1 or more children. The first small group most of us were able to meet, and I knew three of the 10 women. I was excited to meet some new women from church. I found out at the first meeting that we would take turns hosting, and the next meeting would be in the neighboring town at M’s home. M is a sweet woman. She is a first grade teacher, so I immediately felt connected since we are both teachers. She’s single and I believe under 30.

The night of the 2nd meeting came and I arrived with having taken only one wrong turn. M buzzed me and another member of the group in to her apartment building and waved us down to her door. I walked through her door and was struck by the warm lighting, fall decor, candles with autumn scents, and tidiness. Everything had a place, and everything was in its place. Her towel hanging from the oven was fall themed, her entertainment center had leaves, pumpkins, and brown tone plaques. Hanging over her fireplace was an autumn blessings banner on burlap. She had fresh pumpkin muffins with optional whipped topping, trail mix, and apple juice in mason jars. Seriously! So adorable! I walked over to her empty kitchen counter, gently laid my hand upon the edge and thought to myself with a sigh, “I remember living alone.”

In that moment,  I longed to rewind to those “simpler” times. I was totally overwhelmed by my current status, and couldn’t see and feel the joy that was present in my household. On paper I have no reason to complain, which perpetuated the guilt I was feeling. Here’s me on paper:

  • Teaching elementary since 2006, my 10th year in the same school district.
  • I’m married to Josh since 2008, supportive and loving husband.
  • 4 year old son, Caleb.
  • 19 month old b/g twins, Mollie and William.
  • Fabulous home daycare provider who is like a member of the family.
  • Live in a great neighborhood.
  • Own our home.
  • Most recently 1 of 11 nominees nominated for Teacher of the Year in our school district of 650+ teachers.

What do I have to complain about?! However, the state of my heart has been such that I look at these blessings and only see them as burdens/responsibilities. To be honest, I have it all, and want none of it. 

Now you might be thinking, “Geez! She’s depressed.” And I would agree with you, except that I have hope. I am in the process of talking to God about all of this, and He is showing me some amazing insights and offering healing. My husband and parents are supportive in thought, word, and deed. I’m working on simplifying the outer stressors while God is working on healing my heart. We’re working out some insecurities and sins I have buried deep and hidden for a long time. This will be tough work for awhile, but I am relieved that my God is faithful and loving.

Have you felt God’s blessings turning to burdens? Have you prayed about it?

Getting Through It

Getting through had been my mantra most of September and October, until the stress got to be too much. I had a physical reaction to my inability to find my wallet, knowing it was in the house and near, just couldn’t locate it. I had a mini panic attack. I’ve been frustrated by stress, but never felt it physically like that before. My heart felt squeezed and my chest felt tight. I was able to calm myself within 5 minutes, but I was shocked I’d let myself get so lost.

That night I spoke openly with my husband about my swirl of thoughts and feelings, my concern that I was in over my head, and how I was thankful for his support. He offered to “fix” in anyway he could. I wasn’t sure what would “fix” anything though.

The next few days I knew it wasn’t going to be a workout, a list app, a program, or book that was going to “fix” anything. I knew I had to go, no run, to God. I had done all the things listed above for short term solutions many times before. God was calling me to some deeper work. I needed to get to the seed of my sin and guilt, confess it to God, and only then could God “fix” and heal me.

I’m not through it yet. I even put it off for a day or two. I’m not on the other side of this chapter, but in the thick of it I have hope. God has shown me that a seed of sin in me is my fear of incompetence. It is a totally irrational fear, as most fears are. I like to show my effectiveness and competence as a wife, mother, teacher, and woman. It’s pride. So much of my stress is wanting to run all these things at mastery level at all times, and disappointment with myself when I don’t. The judgement I give myself is what I perceive from others if they knew. Again, ridiculous! I have totally loving and supportive parents, so this is something that over time I have created and built up. God’s showing me some past misconceptions, but mostly showing me how this is something I need to confess and ask forgiveness for with Him in the present, and for the future. His healing is working in me. I am gaining new life.

God has also shared with me that I am not the only one. Working parents, especially those with small children, are frantic to do right by their boss, their spouse, their kids, their community, their church; and it is exhausting. We go to our friends and mentors, and we hear encouraging words, sympathy, or excuses we should use. We get recommendations for books, podcasts, websites, and all sorts of advice. God has told me to now respond first with, “Have you prayed about it?” Doesn’t matter where I am, who I am with, I have the strong charge to ask that question before all others. Because really, isn’t that what we should do first? “Take it to the Lord in prayer.” A favorite hymn, and melody I am now humming in my mind. I KNOW this in my head, but my faith is now begging me to turn my knowledge into practice.

This may not be where you are, and maybe it is. Maybe you remember this phase of three small children, diapers and baths, toys and naps, laundry and dog hair that needs to be vacuumed. Either way, I hope you will consider putting your faith in action by taking these concerns, fears, and tears of frustration to God FIRST. He longs for us to come to Him.

Psalm 55:22a “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.”