If Only I Could...

I love studying books on productivity and efficiency.  I have a big family, and I have little people who depend on me and actually expect to eat every day.  There is a lot on my plate, and all of it is important. 

I’ve learned many tricks in this whole parenting gig.  I’ve learned how to get everyone in my house to load the van in less than 5 minutes.  I’ve learned that we need to pull out a freezer meal to time bake in the oven on Tuesday and Thursday nights because we don’t get home until late on those nights.  I keep a tight planner with chore lists, meal plans, and to do lists. 

Don’t let me deceive you.  I’m not a naturally organized person.  It’s quite the opposite.  I’ve had to work hard to keep this all together.  It’s been a lot of trial and error, study and discipline.

I live in fear of it all falling apart, though.  Sometimes I think God lets it all fall apart just to show me that it’s okay.  He’s big enough for my mess.  Life goes on, and he still holds us.  His grace is sufficient.  God doesn’t get afraid of failure like we do.  I don’t think he sees it as a disaster like we do.  There’s nothing he can’t redeem.

There’s one particular weakness that I haven’t been able to conquer yet.  It’s getting up early in the morning.  I’ve conquered it in certain seasons.  I’ve been able to do it for a few months at a time.  But then it falls apart.

I know if I could just get up early, I could breathe in the Scriptures before my family woke up.  I could get my mind together, and maybe even work out.  Then at breakfast my husband wouldn’t be overwhelmed, handling the kids himself in the kitchen and dealing with their whining.  If I could get up early, it would help my marriage, it would help my kids, and it would help me.  It looks good on paper, written in fancy lettering in my planner.

And yet, I can’t keep it up.  Ever.  What ends up happening is I stay up late once everyone is in bed, desperate for some alone time in a touched-out, talked-out day, and unable to let go of the quiet in my house.  My brain starts to relax from the day and I start to feel myself again.  It’s hard to give that time up.

Sometimes I actually get to bed at a decent hour at night, but then the baby wakes up, someone wets the bed, someone throws up, someone has a bad dream.  It feels like I can’t catch a break.

I keep trying.  I keep telling myself mantras of victory in the Lord, and doing all things through Christ.

Every morning that I unintentionally wake up late, or sleep in and find my house a disaster and everyone angry, I face failure first thing.  It makes me not want to get out of bed.  "I already screwed up today.  Can we just skip today?"

I keep thinking, “If I could just conquer this sleep issue in my life, then everything would be fine.”

But I’ve been down this road before.  There is no such thing as “if I could just get my life together…”

I’m not saying that there’s no victory.  I’m saying that I’m not the source.  My discipline won’t save me. 

Like I said, sometimes God allows things to fall apart for my good.  Sometimes he changes my “perfect” plans because I wasn’t supposed to fit in all the things I planned. 

I remember one time, laying in my bed, exhausted from pregnancy, and feeling like I was disappointing everyone in my house because of my exhaustion that I couldn’t seem to conquer.  I prayed for God to fix it.  The scripture that he spoke to my heart that day, in my prayer was “ The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.“

He made me lay down, and he forced me to rest, for my own good.  That is what victory looked like that day.

“If I could just have a few more hours in the day…”

“If I could just wake up before my family…”

“If I could just get some more help around here…”

“If I could just get on top of my health…”

“If I just had some more money…”

“If I could just be more disciplined…”

If I’m honest, while those are all good things, in my heart, all those sentences end with “then I wouldn’t need a savior.”

I know that God has disciplined me to be able to do all the things right now.  I know he has trained me, and grown me.  It is a gift.  But my eyes keep wandering off the teacher.  My eyes start looking at my works to save me.  My motivations become comfort-driven, or pride-driven…often both.

Of all the lessons that I have to learn over and over again in this Christian walk, the one that I relearn most often is that Jesus’ death on the cross is enough

My discipline won’t save me.  Sometimes God gives me discipline as a gift.  Other times he gives me rest as a gift.  Restoring my soul is his goal.  But there is no waking up to failure in the morning.  God already knows what the day holds, and he doesn’t live in fear that I will mess up his will.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know who holds the future

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives

Gretchen is a mom to 6 hilarious kids from toddler to teenager. She works as a homeschool mom, writer, and tutor to middle school kids in classical studies.  She has published an e-course for mentors in intergenerational ministry called Gospel Mentoring and works to equip women’s ministries in churches from falling into legalistic patterns that compromise the message of the gospel.