Kids are crying.
Tupperware is all over the floor.
Husband is working tons of hours.
The sink always has something in it.
Where did all of this laundry come from?
I haven’t slept in a week.
Or a month.
Or a year.
When was the last time I left the house without feeling overwhelmed?
When was the last time I stayed home without feeling overwhelmed?
The kids are crying again.
Leah, get to the point, I don’t have time for this.
I wish I did.
But I don’t.
I don’t have time to get encouragement.
Can’t you see I’m drowning?
Drowning in a sea of never-ending everything that has me filled up to my eyeballs so that I can’t tell if it’s tears or the sea all around on me.
I need encouragement.
I need out of this pit.
But I don’t have time to.
I can only survive.
You know, I love ivy on houses. It’s gorgeous. It just makes the house look so enchanting. So idyllic.
But it’s not good for the house. Because as the ivy grows it shoots off these little grippers. And these grippers will rip into bricks, mortar, anything, and weaken the structure so it is able to survive.
Removing the plant can help but it can also weaken the structure further. But without removing the ivy, the structure can’t be fixed.
Over the last few weeks, with my husband traveling and just the reality of making it through a day, I was stuck. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed. Drowning. Paying attention to the negative things and letting them grow bigger and bigger and sink roots in.
Like the ivy. And the more and more negative ivy that grew up over my house the easier it was to sit back and just let it happen. Look at the beauty in the pain but not change it.
Whatever we pay attention to GROWS.
So sometimes, we have to pull out the ivy.
And it will be work.
And it will make us weak and vulnerable in places.
But we can’t mend the crumbling parts without first removing the plant.
The thing that really isn’t for us to own in the first place.
Because just like ivy shouldn’t really be growing on a house, there are things that we want to hold onto so badly, have control over so badly that we pay attention to that. And since it isn’t ours, it quickly grows out of control and overwhelms and drowns us.
This is an active choice. Minute to minute. Moment to moment. Day to day. Am I going to pay attention to the negative or the positive?
Am I going to continue to be hard on my daughter all day by continually seeing the stuff she doesn’t get right?
Am I going to bemoan my son for not sleeping?
Am I going to get sucked into a pity-party as I stare at the mound of dishes, the 10 loads of laundry, the dirty floors, and the 80 other things I can’t even remember off my to-do list until I’m so overwhelmed I can’t even function?
Am I going to correct the behavior in my daughter and then encourage her when she gets something right in the next interaction?
Am I going to thank God for the extra minutes with my second baby that I quickly forget might be our only “us” time all day?
Am I going to see the dishes as thankfulness for food and the laundry as thankfulness for clothes. And the floors. Is it true that if I can find joy that my JOY might grow instead of the other stuff?
I know this isn’t easy.
I get stuck in that overwhelmed state and just feel exhausted. In my head I know that God wants joy for me but my heart hasn’t quite caught up.
I get encouragement from friends or blogs but it doesn’t seem to sink all the way in because I’ve built these walls to protect me from being more overwhelmed by anything else.
I just survive until I snap back. Until I snap back with that gentle and loving word from the Lord that gets through as He softens my heart.
Proverbs 30:1 I am weary God, but I can prevail.
I can prevail. And absolutely not on my own. But Christ in me growing me, stretching me, walking right along side me.
We can prevail.
YOU can prevail.
This week all around me, these beautiful mamas are so tired, so overwhelmed and can’t even see out of the windows for all of the ivy. They are missing the joy.
Let’s pull it out. It’s going to hurt worse than a band aid.
But it will let us pay attention to something else.
Pay attention to the joy. So that they joy in us might grow.
My prayer for each of you that reads this is that your head and your heart would work together to pay attention more fully to joy so that the negative stuff doesn’t have a chance to take hold and cause you to crumble. And if you’re already crumbling, that God word would serve as a balm to heal you.
Dare you to find one thing that is positive and joyful and focus on paying attention to that. Did you husband do the dishes? Did the kids sleep all night? Did you get the dishes done on the same day you at off them? Thank God (and your husband is applicable) and focus on that. Then find one more. Then another. Pay attention to how your focus changes.
Will you share what is distracting you? What you are paying attention to that is growing and growing? I’d love to hear from you.
Be sure to check out The Respect Dare blogging team – Nina, author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband and Debbie, especially for parents of teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings, and you can subscribe to me in the sidebar. And connect with me on twitter @LeahHeffner and on faceboook on The Respect Dare community page. *links to amazon are affiliate links