The last month of summer was a busy one for our family. Vacations, camp, visiting relatives, a mission trip, a day at an amusement park and an evening at a baseball game – these activities filled the past thirty days of our lives.
These are all good things. All were fun. Anyone would say that it was a great month.
And it was. We had fun, loads of time together, and got to experience things we never had before.
For me, a person who gets energy from downtime and routine instead of activity, it was overwhelming.
I longed for our quiet home, our own space, for time spent without having to get ready for the next time away, without making sure we had everything packed that we needed, without moving on to the next thing. Throughout that busy month, my spirit flagged.
During the low times, I complained. I whined. I grumbled like the crankiest crank ever to crank. I am not a silent sufferer.
Others tired of my crabbiness, as they should. My family chastised me for it. I was hurt, angry. Our time together is a blessing, I knew that. But why doesn’t anybody understand? They all know what kind of person I am.
I withdrew from all but the necessary interaction with those outside of my family, to spare them my behavior and to hoard precious breathing room. I was unhappy and felt guilty over what I’d been saying and how I behaved. Why am I such a grump? Why can’t I just get along?
The other day a friend confessed that she was being disciplined by God for her prideful behavior. She shared that although she was hurting, she understood why, and she was brought to tears knowing that God loved her enough to correct her. As I read what she had written, understanding her words clearly as if they were my own, realization washed over me that a similar thing was happening in my life. I was feeling bad because deep down I knew I was missing something. I was instantly thankful to God for putting this friend in my path. There was no question that he had sent her.
When feeling overwhelmed the past month, instead of praying to God to sustain me and enjoying our activities, I wanted to retreat from them. Instead of calling on his power to get me through when I felt depleted, I clenched my teeth and powered through it, head down and mouth open, proclaiming my suffering, making myself feel bad.
The desire for my way in everything took over. During our time of busyness, I was not gracious, or kind, or thankful. No prayers of gratefulness for our blessings fell from my lips. Not one.
Worse is that I didn’t pray for help. I didn’t trust in God’s strength to hold me aloft, in his ability to bring peace amid what I perceived as chaos. I grumbled and complained and alienated my loved ones instead.
I wish I could say that I learned my lesson – that I am moving on from this and never going back to it. But I don’t know this. Busyness will come again. It’s the way the world is, the way our lives are right now. There is no perfect balance of activity and downtime to appease my predilections. Life is messy, and can be overpowering in different ways for all of us.
I hope that I will remember the lesson. God knows that. He knows each of us, what we are like, what we need. He made us each individually, tailored to his exact specifications.
And he is always there to sustain us, to give us what we ask for, and sometimes to send a friend when we are too wrapped up in our own suffering to ask for help.
Cast your cares on the and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
Let me live so that I can praise you. May your laws keep me going. Psalm 199:75 (NIRV)