I am not equipped to manage my life. I think it all the time. Like when I make a trip to Target for 5 things with all 3 of my kids, then it ends up with one kiddo in tears and one throwing a fit and me wanting to just leave my kids in the car for the day when I finally make it home. Like the time my mom and I were sure it would be no problem for the two of us to manage my 3 kids and their cousin (ages: 5,4, 2, and 1) for a couple hours at the zoo. Then the baby refuses to sleep and cries for the last half of the trail while the thirty-pound two-year-old refuses to walk or ride in the stroller, so the only way to make progress toward the car is for me to carry him.
My boys are so close together, which makes for so many situations I can't manage on my own. I can't manage a trip to the neighborhood park. I can hardly manage to take all three outside to our own yard on my own. I know, it's ridiculous. But it's just that they are just a physical handful. And an emotional handful too! I know I'm not alone here. At some point, we all feel deep down in our gut that our children are more than we can manage.
Today was a particularly tough day. We have been at the cabin (sans Daddy, but with Grandma and Grandpa) for five days. The first few days were great, but my two youngest have not been sleeping well, and the cumulative effect of a few missed hours of sleep every day has taken its toll on all of us. I spent an hour trying unsuccessfully to get my oldest to take a nap. He never naps, but I thought that maybe he was just tired enough to make it work. He wasn't. When I finally gave up, I learned that my one-year-old had been awake playing in bed for the past half hour. He had only slept about 15 minutes. My energy was gone. I could not manage this final hardship. I went back and tried desperately for almost an hour to get him back to sleep, and nothing was working. He needed sleep and I needed him to sleep. I left him awake and crying in his crib, went to my own room, laid down and cried myself. I was finished.
I threw up my hands at God. Don't you know I am finished? Don't you know I have nothing left to give these needy children?
"I have given you everything you need for life and godliness." He gently prodded my heart. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't believe Him. He has given me more than I can manage. He doesn't know what it's like to deal with the chaos I have rolled up in the small bodies of my energetic boys.
Begrudgingly I opened my bible to James. Just because it is my favorite. I skimmed the beginning. I couldn't stomach that count it all joy stuff. I really started at verse 3: "
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." Yes God, please, give me wisdom on how to parent these boys through their young years.
But the next verses really convicted me:
"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;"
I was doubting. There was no excusing it.
Every time I repeat my old familiar line, I cannot manage my own children, I am doubting God. Every time I refuse to believe that he has given me everything I need not only to do my life, but to do it with godliness, I doubt him. I fail to trust. I fail to have faith. When I step out in calm waters, its easy to believe that God can give me the wisdom I need to shepherd my children toward his heart. But when the waves of sleepless children and disobedient hearts shake me, I doubt God's plan. I doubt his goodness. I doubt that every small task in my life is a kindness meant to guide my soul closer to his.
This morning I went out skiing. I was busy with my boys when my dad popped in and told me the lake was glass. I peeked out the window and confirmed it for myself. Since turning 30, I have decided that the physical work of skiing is only worth it if the water is going to be perfect. But by the time I got in my swimming suit and wet suit, the boys in life jackets, the ski and rope and gloves secured, the glassy water had turned to ripples.
"We'll find smooth water." my dad assured me. I didn't feel confident, but I since I had already done the work of getting out there, I was going. We drove through the ripples, and I decided it wasn't so bad. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't waves. Then we hit some boat wakes, and my confidence dropped. Would this tired, broken body of mine hold up? As silly as it sounds, I was afraid. Afraid that I would lose control, afraid I would fall in front of my kids. As I started to bounce, I made my way back inside the wake. The waves bounced around me, but in the safety of the wake, my way was smooth. The beauty of the boat is that it slices through the rough water, leaving a smooth path behind for a tired, scared skier like me. I focused on the strength of the boat and it didn't fail to pull me through the rough to the smooth glassy water on the other side of the waves.
The beauty of trusting in God is that when the troublesome waters of everyday life start to roll, He goes before us. His promises can make the most dangerous waters glassy smooth under our feet. But this wisdom is not granted when we aren't trusting in Him. God is bountiful with his promises and goodness, but we have to receive them.
Open up your heart dear friend, God's promises are waiting to guide you through your turbulent waters. God has wisdom waiting for any situation, but you must trust in Him to receive it. He can make the water beneath your feet peaceful and smooth even as the waves rage around you.
In Mark 9, an overwhelmed father brings his demon possessed son to Jesus for healing. May his honest words be the battle cry of every parent who finds their beautiful children to be more than they can manage:
"I believe; help my unbelief!"
Pray it daily. Whisper it in the moments you cannot manage to trust in God's promises through your own power. Shout it when you need to know God hears you. Then be still and know that He is God.