My husband is laid up after foot surgery and he's had a pretty rough time of it. Our friends wanted to know: How could they help? Could they bring a meal? Do any errands for us? Since the younger kids had a week off from school and itís dreary February weather with nowhere to go, I said, Do something fun with the kids for a few hours. Since this couple is among our childrenís very favorite people, it was a perfect set-up. On Friday they called and asked, How about now? An hour later, the house was quiet.
Greg was dozing in his chair, keeping his foot up and iced. He needed lunch and some friendly checking in on, but mostly Iíd be on my own for the afternoon. What to do?
How I had longed for a few hours off when the kids were little! I didnít get many breaks in those days. I was desperate for sleep, for adult company, for time to take a walk, for time out as a couple....
Nowadays, my needs are more complex. I long for stretches of time to be creative, and I long to finish a task without being interrupted. So, for the afternoon, I set myself a creative agenda and a kitchen task.
I couldnít accomplish them.
Since I canít think straight when Iím tired, I took a nap. I guess this surgery business has been wearing on the whole family.
The main issue, though, is that life keeps happening, even on quiet afternoons. Our friends didnít whisk away our oldest child. Rachel had to be picked up at the high school after speech practice. Then my parents came to pick her up so she could spend the night with them. (My mom said sheíd deliver Rachel to her early morning meet so I could sleep in Saturday morning.) My parents visited with Greg. Rachel performed her speech for the four of us. Ten minutes after they left I noticed Rachelís dress clothes still hanging by the door. My mom brought her back to get them. Had she forgotten anything else? We went through the list. By now it was time to cook dinner. Could I squeeze in that one kitchen task? Half of it would have to do.
All afternoon Iíd been mulling over my creative work. Did I lack courage to begin? Perhaps thatís one reason I felt tired. If I had any skill, I told myself, I could create even amidst interruptions. Maybe my project was not worthwhile. Maybe it was too big for me.
By the time the kids got home, dinner was ready but my spirit was restless. Quiet hours are so rare. Why did I waste my time today? Sure, todayís main agenda was on track. The kids had a great afternoon doing projects and playing games. Our friends enjoyed the kids and were blessed to be able to help out. They even brought a lasagna for the freezer. How did we get such nice friends, anyway? But somehow in my little universe it always comes back to me and my day. And recognizing my self-centeredness doesnít help my frustration level.
I usually have some time to myself in the evenings, so it was not yet curtains on creativity. But how could I concentrate if I felt so unsettled? I went to bed early and slept for 10 hours. In the baby and toddler days, this would have been absolutely unheard of.
I woke up rested and I should also have felt refreshed. Thatís how it should be after being given a break! But deep inside was a sense of failure.
During my Saturday errands I heard a radio preacher address my wondering and worrying. He said, if you lack energy, pray. If you donít know what to do, meditate on Godís Word, the lamp to our feet and the light to our path.
I got home and did that. I just knelt and prayed and read from Hebrews.
Nothing has changed. Poor Greg still canĎt stray far from his chair. Life with kids means lots of noise. I still donít know whether I have the courage for the creative work I have in mind. But God settled my mind and restored peace to my soul.
Thanks to good friends and swell parents, I got a physical respite. Thanks be to our great God, this mom got the break she needed even more.
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