Thanks so much to Jenny Groothuis, who wrote this article just yesterday. It was such a blessing that I asked her permission to reprint it here.
Jenny and her husband Brad have six biological children and have adopted 7 or 8 children from Liberia, most with serious health problems. They live in Iowa, in a smallish-sized house, where they homeschool and have larger-than-normal amounts of food to prepare and laundry to wash. She has been a huge encouragement to me personally!
With our recent discussions of adrenal fatigue and “how to do it all,” I thought this article would be perfect. She really does have the answer! I hope it will be a blessing to all, not just those moms who are tired or sick. ~Anne
I just want to hug the moms that I get emails from that sound something like this, “I am wondering how you do it all because I am feeling very overwhelmed with one (three, five, seven…….whatever) child/ren and I wonder how we could ever adopt or have more when I feel like I’m sinking now.”
I have been there. I think I spent an entire decade there. I quit homeschooling before we even officially started when my three oldest boys were 4, 2, and baby. I tried to get Brad to make a vow that we would never have any more children, and I lived very close to what would be consider the fringe of mental stability (and a couple times crossed on over to the “other side”). In the natural, most people would probably have advised me to get a nice part-time job making daisy chains somewhere.
And sometimes I would call those moms I considered to have their act together and try to casually ask how-in-the-world their lives worked. I wouldn’t necessarily come right out and admit it was a struggle to get out of bed every morning, but I would cushion it in a seemingly innocent question like, “So….we are having company tonight, and I was wondering how you entertain when you have several small children coming right behind you undoing all your work?” But what I was really hoping for was an answer like this:
“Oh yes, I too used to struggle and strain. But I read this great book/went to this seminar/found this verse/met this mentor/hired several undocumented workers to help me/or whatever — and now I am happy all the day.”
I usually hung up the phone rather disappointed, though, because they always seemed so vague. It was just Jesus, they would comment. Okay, yeah, yeah………Jesus sure……….but really now………what’s the trick?
It was a gradual process, but through His patient, tender, gentle way He has with mothers, Jesus did renew my mind. Overwhelmed is a state of mind. I can choose to look at my life as struggle and failure or as righteousness, peace, and JOY. As His love overtakes our fears we get the mind and more of the attitude of Christ. He’s not stressed out, burned out, or striving and straining with a crazy to-do list. He said it is all about love, so if I have a clean house, my kids are genius smart, I can fit in my skinny jeans, and meals are always frugal yet perfectly healthy………but I am irritable, impatient, unkind, easily offended……..then it’s all for nothing.
I don’t know that there is a fast-track for learning to grow in love other than the refining fire of real life. Loving the people in front of you. The annoying ones, the messy ones, the ones that bring you to your knees and make you cry out for mercy!
I’ve learned to trust the leading of the Spirit more. There are seasons and rhythms to our family, and I can’t try to rush through any of them or rewind any of them. Some seasons are all about pouring out to others. Some rhythms look like treading water and keeping everyone afloat while an urgent situation gets resolved. Sometimes we pull in and regroup and decompress. Some seasons are for starting new things and heading in new directions. There is no perfect schedule, plan, formula, or method.
There is a continual letting go of expectations. Where did we get the ideas we hold so tightly to of what it (“it” being family life, education, religion, or whatever feels out of whack to us at the moment) should look like? Some magazine we read? Some cultural or sub-cultural standard we bought into? Some other person we met and admired? Who said God wanted clones of others? How God uses one family is not necessarily how He wants to use yours. One Spirit……..many parts of the Body.
That Proverbs 31 woman laughed at the days to come. No fear of the future because she knew Who her God was. Those that trust in Him will never be put to shame. Oh, maybe someone else will try to shame you, but you don’t have to receive that. Don’t buy the lie that how you feel right now (depressed, discouraged, worn out, etc.) is how you are always going to feel. God does change things, starting with our hearts and minds.
If your agenda for today feels like it is robbing you of peace, scrap it and ask God what His agenda might be for your family today. Maybe He is asking you to let everybody off the hook and focus on viewing those around you through the eyes of love and joy. Let God overwhelm you today with His goodness.