This simple phrase that refers to our own self worries, troubles, misfortune….woe is me. Or as I like to think of it, woe is we. This common self loathing theme that summarizes the story of our life that nothing we do is good enough, that we are constantly missing the mark and that everyone around us is making it that much harder. Woe is we.
I have realized that I am the victim of myself. My own destructive doing that makes me think my way is the best way, the only way….therefore, making your way the wrong way. I have patented myself as the queen of ‘gettin’ things done’ and in the most orderly fashion possible. I can write a mean to-do list and execute it with precision. I can have a timeline of events to not only get everything finished but be freshly showered and ready to go by the end of it. I can get myself and 3 kids ready and out the door before my husband can manage to get himself ready and in the car. My house is clean, decorated and smelling like my newest obsession of wax melts. I can look around, close my eyes, breathe in the sweet smells and smile…..but I don’t. Instead I close my eyes, breathe in and realize those 3 tiny humans that I prayed so hard for have already began unraveling the web. That my husband has taken off every article of clothing between the back door and our bedroom and that the sweet smell of my marshmellow fireside candle has been replaced by the tiny turd sitting in my toddlers diaper. And I start my process all over again. Change the diaper, pick up the mess, cook the meal (because as soon as I finish cleaning up one, it’s always time for another…bottomless pits), close my eyes, breathe in the (not so) sweet smells…repeat.
Why do I think this is working? Because my home is clean? Because I look like I’m in control? Well, I’m not. Nor should I be.
While I appear to have it all together and if I’m being honest, a good smelling, clean home does bring a sense of peace to my OCD heart, I realize peace is the last thing I’m feeling. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m feeling tired. I am giving my home more attention than my husband and my need for clean over my kids. I don’t think having a clean home is a sin but the amount of time I give it can be. Having a well thought out plan is not harmful but leaving out time for your family is. Wanting to serve your family with hospitality is beautiful but controlling every aspect of it can leave them feeling like a burden over a blessing.
Friends, it’s not that our intentions are bad, in fact I know as mothers, it is our hearts that lead us. But when we rely solely on ourselves, when we are the only ones that can get it done and do it right, we start to live a life of serving ourselves over serving others. We are feeding our own self made egos while yelling ‘eat my dust!’ to those who can’t keep up! What benefit do we get by crossing the finish line first if we are all by ourselves?
What areas of your life can you release a little bit of control?
What chores can you place on the plates of others, knowing it won’t be done the way you do it? (And being okay with that!….my personal issue)
How can we set down the weight of expectation and pick up the present of possibility?
Friends, this life can be hard, demanding, lonely even but thankfully we were given a road map to follow and redirect our path when we feel lost, overwhelmed and defeated. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Galatia, an early community of Christians, guiding them to live by the way of the law. Paul writes, “16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,<sup class="footnote" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: .625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0" data-fn="#fen-ESV-29167a" data-link="[a]”>[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do<sup class="footnote" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: .625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0" data-fn="#fen-ESV-29167b" data-link="[b]”>[b] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:16-26
In lamen’s terms, you can not walk the path of righteousness (being right with God) and selfishness, for they can not coexist. You must choose, your way or His. While your way may bring instant gratification, His way will bring eternal gratification. The desires and wants of this earth are not and were never meant to be eternal, they will all perish. The money goes away, humans will pass and houses shall fall but His love will never leave you and His way will always remain. Letting the spirit guide you, that internal voice that prompts good, loving actions, will bring you a sense of peace that no amount of money, people or possessions can offer. You will no longer see yourself through your eyes but His. An imperfect human created for a purpose with a purpose. The only law we are asked to live is to love. When we are yelling at our kids, disrespecting our husbands or putting the cleanliness of our homes over our hearts, is that love? I for one am guilty of all three of these….and just in the last 24 hours. But this is what is most beautiful, we were given a God of forgiveness and grace. He does not stand upon a throne of conviction, handing out life sentences of death. He extends His hand when we call on Him and gives us another chance to do it right. Those actions, those words, those feelings of woe is me, are in the past. That moment is gone. Use that as a space to display humility to those you love, to ask for forgiveness and offer kindness. This moment will be the one your babies hold on to. This will be the very fruit of your vine that will spread and grow onto the trees of those around you. We are teaching our children that we all make mistakes and we all get second chances. We are teaching them to forgive themselves and forgive others. We are teaching them love. And this my friends, is the greatest gift of all.