Monday, September 20, 2010

grace upon grace

warning: don't read this post if you find it inappropriate for people to share too much information with people they might not know.  this is not a pretty part of the "life of the lanes", but a part of it just as well...

my depth of thought kind of took a hiatus over the summer.  i've enjoyed mothering kennedy and blakely, and enjoyed being brett's wife, and really relished my roles in this season, and sometimes when things are good, there's just not as much of a felt need to process life and go beyond get up, live the day, go to bed and do it again.  not that this is bad and we should walk around cornering people into deep conversations and being unable to relate to the world at large because we're in a bubble that a lot of people think is just weird.  happy seasons are that...happy.  and from a gracious god.  the past 4 years i might have had more of a chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling attitude about life because it just wasn't easy, and i'm thankful for a season that has felt good and restful...especially with our new little addition coming soon.  but for me, i become complacent easily...both with my relationship with the lord and with people.  i'm thankful to be thinking again because it makes me feel alive, but sometimes i unfortunately learn best through pain.

this summer, in general, i've found it easier than normal to be "good."  i know "good" is a relative term because different people have different struggles, but for me, it means not blowing up easily.  i just sat here for awhile trying to think of a prettier way to put it, but there's really not another way to say it.  i've struggled with anger my whole life.  it's a masculine struggle, and i would much rather say that the thorn in my flesh is materialism or something normal to girls, and while i go through seasons where things like that are more of a struggle than others, i think the biggest thing that keeps me seeing my need for a savior...not just to get me to heaven, but to continually rescue me from myself...is anger.  i don't go around getting in bar fights or even giving people dirty looks on the highway.  i care way too much what people think to let the world see that side of me. and it doesn't flare up every day or even every week.  my anger is much more dangerous because it's reserved for those in my very own house and they never know when it's coming.  and it makes me sick.

this weekend brett was out of town camping for a bachelor party.  i really hate being away from him more than i hate most things.  maybe i have weird attachment issues.  it's not that he never gets on my nerves, and it's most definitely not that we never fight, and there are times he might be happy to be gone so i don't tell him AGAIN to pick his freakin stuff up off the floor, but i don't like him being away, even for a weekend.  he's never away from me and k and b except to work (i swear i'm not a slave driver who traps him at our house...he likes us too and likes to be home.  i think :)) so i was really happy for him to get a chance to get away, especially doing something he loves.  i had a baby shower to go to saturday, so i knew i was taking the girls to stay with my mom and coach, then going back there to spend the night saturday night, but i wanted to make the most of friday night.  like i said, this summer has been sortof dry for me spiritually, and over the past 2 weeks, i've been learning a lot and thinking about a lot that i wanted to process.  so i decided that friday night would be a good chance to put kennedy and blakely to bed at 7 and have a few hours to spend reading and journaling.  so back to the anger.

like i said before, this summer was good.  no major life changes (i mean, yeah i'm pregnant, but she hasn't come out yet so she doesn't affect family dynamics), discipline with our kids has proven to work after 4 years of feeling like it might never, brett's business is going well, and i've not really had many low days (meaning feeling depressed).  there has been maybe a hard week here and there over the past few months, but nothing outside of what is probably normal for most people.  since life has been good, and my emotional state has been good, i've managed my sin well on the surface.  for me, anger is exposed during times of stress, which means i was angry with no means to pretend i wasn't for about the first 3 years of kennedy and blakely's lives.  it's well-known to my cyber friends by now that i didn't have the best first few years as a mom.  and anytime i feel out of control, since control is an idol i hold onto so tightly, it brings out anger in me.  on top of not settling well into being a mom, i've dealt with insomnia for 4 1/2 years now.  i need sleep about as much as a newborn.  seriously.  i never had a bedtime when i was little because i put myself to bed, and i was infamous in high school and college to pass out at 10 no matter how much fun everybody else was having.  i like sleep and i need a lot of it, but now without medicine, i can only sleep 3 hours a night.  well, as much as i hate taking medicine, i've found what works, and am able to sleep atleast 8 hours most nights.  i kind of have a formula that i know works for me to be emotionally healthy: adequate sleep, a healthy diet, daily exercise, and a good balance of time with my family, friends, the lord, and alone (i think some might call me high maintenance).  for the majority of the past 4 years, that balance was off, as i'm sure it is for most moms.  actually, most people for that matter.  well, the past few months, i've struck it pretty well, so i've begun to feel pretty self-sufficent (i.e. not much felt need for dependence on the lord).

i was feeling good about my plan to have a mini-retreat friday night.  i think i will earn more of god's love when i'm spending time with him.  no, i haven't fallen into bad theology.  i know in truth that nothing about that statement is true, but there is a felt belief in me as a recovering legalist that i will earn god's favor through working hard for him.  forget the cross and what it's already earned us as heirs, right?  the day was actually pretty good.  kennedy and blakely had school, so i went to my favorite class at the gym, had coffee with a friend before picking them up, came home and did a few loads of laundry and cleaned while they watched cartoons, took them to the pool that afternoon, then came back home so the 3 of us could have a girls' night sitting on the couch, watching hannah montana, and drinking hot chocolate (their favorite evening ritual).  while we were watching tv, they decided they wanted to write on their dry erase boards that my grandmother had just given them the day before.  they brought them to the sofa and i let them (key piece of information).  after all, it's hideous from all the times they puked on it as babies (don't worry if you've sat on it...we've cleaned and sanitized it a million times.  it's just really stained), so i'm not that picky with it, and we figure we'll get a new one when our kids are older, but let our house be lived in while they're little.  anyway, i went to the laundry room to put another load of laundry in, and blakely came in and said "mommy, i accidentally wrote on the couch a little."  and do you know why she was honest with me?  because the me she has seen over the past few months (because the poor kid seriously spills everything) has continually thanked her for being honest and assured her that it was an accident and i knew she didn't mean to, and that it was just stuff anyway.  the me of friday night blew up at her and told her she ruins everything.  she ran away crying and the saddest thing of all is that i didn't care at the time.  all of a sudden, my anger was tapped into and i could justify at the time that someone else had caused the anger in me; not that it was there, and someone living with me would naturally bring it out, but that my sin was okay because someone else made me do it.  and a 4 year old at that.  even as i write this, i can't get over the harshness of my words and the way she cried and the way i didn't care.  instead of comforting her in her tears like you would expect a mother to do for her child, i sent her to her room so she could further feel the weight of how she had screwed up.  i had been wronged and i wanted somebody to pay.  forget the couch is so gross the marker would just add character, or that we could flip the cushions.  it came down to the fact that there was sin in my heart and it was bound to be exposed.  how can my anger be so severe that i can break the heart of someone i would honestly stand in front of a train for?  after i cooled down, i went up to her room and talked to her about the way i had wrongly cast my wrath on her.  i told her that i was frustrated that she wrote on the sofa, but that she was not the one who made me angry...the anger was there and her negligence just brought it out.  when i told her it wasn't her fault and it was mine and i love her more than anyone in this world does we cried together...she with relief that i wasn't mad at her, and me over the ugliness of my sin.  i held her and let her cry and she let me cry and i told her how hopeless i am without god's grace.  it's always sweet to reconcile with my kids, whether it's my sin or theirs that causes the rift.  but every time it's my sin, i just keep thinking over and over "when is their grace going to run out?"  because before i put blakely to bed, i asked her if she forgave me, and her response was "of course mommy."  but how many times do i have to have this talk with my kids about my sin and the way it affects them and the way it shows me my need for a savior before they say "enough with this gospel and grace thing?"  so that's where i am.  i wish i had a pretty bow to put on it to say i learned my lesson and will never snap at my kids again and that they're sharing the gospel with others because of these talks.  but even with the endless well of god's grace for his children, sin still has consequences and still hurts those we love.  i'm still trying to figure all of it out.

so the night ended not with me self-righteously giving my time to the lord, but sitting before a god who knows the depth of the sins hidden in my heart (even when i'm doing well managing them), weeping over the hurt my sin caused my little girl, and receiving forgiveness that is completely undeserved.  yes, i learned a lesson about my constant need for dependence on the lord for anything good to come out of me, but i remembered too that there's a good chance my anger will well up again this coming week, either towards brett or kennedy or blakely.  and god knows it, and he still loves and forgives me...not because i'm good or did good asking for forgiveness this time or felt sorry enough for it...but because the fit coming up was nailed to the cross along with our savior, just like the last one.  i'm just praying to remember that and feel that because the pain of knowing how i hurt blakely and how there was a window of time i didn't care is still fresh and hard to let go of.

7 comments:

  1. Are we so similar b/c we're both leo's? Or maybe because we're both born sinners...'

    i'm guessing its the latter of the two. unfortunately, you are not alone in your struggle w/ anger. my counselor and i are trying to hash out what causes mine, as well. and like you, my summer has been quite nice! (minus one week of being a total B :-(.
    I try to blame it on hormones, but this last go round of my hideousness showing so clearly, the lord spoke quite clearly to my heart that while hormones may play a part, the real issue is in my heart, not my hormone levels.

    Praying for you as i know you'll pray for me.
    Thanks for your honesty. Its so comforting to know i'm not alone.

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  2. thank you for being so transparant. i dont think you understand how many people can relate to you and what you feel and go through. your sharing opens the eyes of others and inspires them and encourages them whether you realize it or not. i truly feel normal when i see that others are struggling with emotions that seem so easy for others to "control". i hope that when i am a mother i am half of the mother you are (as i have learned you are from your blog). you are inspiring and need to give yourself more credit!! thank you again for sharing your heart and you life with us all.

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  3. Aw, that breaks my heart. At least you're working on your thorn! I know HE appreciates that.
    When you said "dry-erase" and "couch" in the same sentence, I knew what was coming. Ugh! I can understand the knee-jerk reaction.

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  4. I love you. I am always here for you and we are so much alike it is really scary. Please come visit again some time soon. My kids adore yours and would love to entertain again.
    My neighborhood is having a garage sale October 1st. I have a good friend who is getting rid of tons of toys that I know your girls would LOVE. You can come by the Thursday before (she is bringing all her stuff up to my garage) and pick out what they want.

    Mandi

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  5. Nicole...

    How to even respond...?

    Your blog made me laugh and cry at the same time.

    I think for me, even though you are confessing your sin, this is one of the most uplifting things I have read in a long time. You used an example, something all of us can relate to (whether we chose to admit it or not), to remind us of our need for a savior. For you, anger just happened to be the vehicle that brought that need to light.....For me, its something else...Regardless, God uses the ugly in us to reveal a love that would never feel as great to us, if we weren't so unworthy of it in the first place. It hurts to be reminded of our unworthiness, but at the same time, that hurt is really a beautiful gift in ugly wrapping...At least that is how I interpreted your blog. Because, at the end of the day, the "good" days we have prevent us from truly experiencing the vastness of God's grace. But the sin in our lives exposes God for what he really is.

    How sad it would be to try and "earn" such a love, and to consequently only experience performance-based love? How much greater is the experience of feeling love when you DON'T deserve it, than when you can fool yourself into believing that you do? It is the difference between conditional love and unconditional love, I guess.

    I think that the beauty of this story is not necessarily your vulnerability in exposing your sin, but rather your ability to accept God's grace, in this particular moment. How many times do I pass up on the blessing of God's love, because I buy into the lie that I am undeserving of it? Or the lie that my reactions are not my own, but "caused" by the people and circumstances of life.

    Another thought...I love the fact that God reveals himself the most in day-to-day life, rather than in the big events that jump out at us. We probably miss it, 99.9% of the time too. Its not like God just shows up now and then, looking for glory. He is willing to be ignored, repressed, denied, etc, on a daily basis, just for the opportunity to bless us with his love, when we take the time to see ourselves for what we are.

    Okay, don't know how you do this blog thing, bc now i am hesitating on whether or not to hit "post comment"...even after writing all this, and being so freshly reminded of God's love, I still sit here and worry about the approval of peers and the consequences of exposing this train of thought!...Ironic, huh?!!!!

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  6. whoops, it came through anonymous after all! Anyway, that was charissa! love yah!

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  7. Nicole,

    I think we all have our demons some just hide them better than others. We are not perfect thats what makes us human. We can only grow from our mistakes. Let me know if you find a cure for not sleeping. I Have not slept since I had Karsyn 7yrs ago...I do take medicine but I hate it, I would like to fall asleep on my own and not dread night time.. Laura Rodney

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