I Scream for Serenity

I wake up well rested at 5:30 am. The house is quite and everyone still sleeps. I, however, am bundled up in my warm robe and pajamas, sipping my morning coffee and reading my Bible while seated in my favorite rocking chair. I have just the perfect amount of time to read, journal, pray, blog, hand write a few thank you cards and letters, and catch up on some emails before the day really begins–I might even have time to sneak in a few minutes of Facebook and Pinterest, just to make sure I’m fully up to date with friends and family.At 6:30 the girls start to slowly awaken. We have a peaceful breakfast together, rubbing sleep out of our eyes and sharing about our dreams the night before. Daddy wakes around this time and makes his groggy way to the table with his own cup of coffee. Just a few minutes later, everyone has finished breakfast and heads to their respective rooms and bathrooms to get ready for the day. Within 30 minutes or so, we are all dressed and ready to go. By 7:15 we are out the door. I have the pleasure of taking the girls to school in the morning, allowing for us to have a fun and joyful few minutes of singing praises along with the car radio. Daddy heads to school for a few classes today, before putting in some hours at the church office.

Once the girls are settled at school, I run a few errands–grocery store, post office, Target (of course)–before heading back home. I return to my home office where I am preparing to meet three or four counseling clients for the day, and spend time writing my recent manuscript and update my daily blog.This is what I do. I’m a counselor and a writer. And I praise the Lord for these moments of peace, solitude, reflection, and ministry–whether in person with clients or by written word. And so goes my day…

Wait…what?!?!? I wish!!! If only this perfect day existed! Instead I oversleep, find little time with the Lord, and well, forget the opportunity for writing. My children won’t wake up in the morning, won’t finish their breakfast, and we are usually late getting out the door. With lunches surprisingly made and hair quickly pulled into pony tails for the day, we barely survive the mornings. And that’s just the beginning of the day! Our family’s current life circumstances dictate that I work a full time job–NOT as a counselor or writer–and thus my week is filled with 40 hours of unfulfilling labor, only to return home to multiple errands, piled high dishes and laundry, and homework waiting for me once the girls go to bed. Yes, I am also in grad school full time and balance three or four clients a week. And once the homework is done, I crawl exhausted into bed by midnight (if I’m lucky) and prepare my mind for another day of madness tomorrow.

Oh, and did I mention all the wonderful ways in which I respond to my children or my husband throughout the day when things go wrong? If need be, refer back to Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst and the study I completed last fall. Yes, still working on these raw emotions. But to the present…

I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.

My schedule screams. My circumstances are overwhelming. I find myself exhausted. And the hope for serenity seems ever so distant.

And so I have come to terms with the reality–I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.

Nike would be very displeased to read my admission of failure. And yet, there is something peacefully redeeming about the statement “I can’t do it.” It means I’m finally letting go! I can’t continue living with a crazy schedule that I allow to dictate my attitude with my husband, my children, and my friends. And I can’t keep trying to control my  screaming schedule and life circumstances in hopes that one day I will have that perfect day.

We try to squelch the screaming by being on top of things and in command. Because the schedule prods us to snap into action, into action we dive headlong. We grab the baton of control and keep things clipping along at breakneck speed, seldom slowing down. And all the while around us are living souls who, when they don’t get with our program, immediately get on our nerves. – Karen Ehman, Let. It. Go.

Exactly. This is exactly what happens. Thank you Karen for hitting the nail on the head. I am challenged to reconsider how I am spending my time–time that should be governed by the Lord, for my times are in his hands.

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand.” Psalm 31:14-15a (ESV)

And while I know this is easier said than done, I must take action to make changes–being ever aware that it is the Spirit of the Lord truly making the changes in my life. I was blessed to review some of the practical steps and advice presented by Karen to help me more easily let go of my control and to live a life that allows for me to be more trusting of God’s control. Each point is quite helpful, and I could comment on all, but for the sake of time–because we all know now that I have NONE–I just wanted to list them (and for you readers who have not joined us for this Let. It. Go. Online Bible Study, I encourage you to pick up the book and explore this amazing journey). So here goes:

  1. Stand back and ask, “Why?”
  2. Dare to be different
  3. Consider setting number limits
  4. Make a list and check it twice
  5. Realize how each family member’s activities affect the others’ schedules
  6. Don’t take on more than you can pray for
  7. Say yes because you feel called, not because you consider your self capable
  8. Don’t attempt to set the world record for most consecutive years served

And as a final piece of advice–“The less you’re involved in, the less your schedule will scream, and the less you just might too.”

But what about those circumstances that are outside my control? As stated above, our lives dictate certain aspects, such as my having to work a 40-hour job. And then there are circumstances for which we have no contingency plan. What do we do when my husband becomes very ill? (Which just happened). Or what do we do when the car breaks down on the freeway? (Which ALSO just happened). Even if we change our schedules, freeing time to be with the Lord and in a more healthy relationship with our family, there will always be circumstances that we can’t change.

It is here I must recognize that the only aspect I can truly change about my circumstances is my outlook. I must remember that God is God and I am not. I can do what I can, but I also can’t do what I can’t. I must continue to let go.

Let’s face it. I can’t control my schedule. And I can’t control the unforeseen. And while I scream out to the Lord, he reminds me that all my work and all my attempts to fix life will only bring more chaos. Instead, my surrendering to him alone will bring the serenity.

So, next week we will explore a little more of what it means to let go and let God–giving up sole control of our soul control. Tune in next week…

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5 thoughts on “I Scream for Serenity

  1. Mary, I just loved this post. I loved how you shared from your heart and were “real”. Just like you said, we have to stop craving the “perfect” day because it is not going to happen. We must give God sole control and realize that He needs to be in control and not us. Thank you for giving of your time to share with us.

  2. Mary I loved your post. I kinda laughed a little when I thought oh wow she has all together and then I continued to read. I love that you are being real. I can relate to you. My life is chaotic most of the time but I tell myself: slow down, let go and let God have control and it helps me.

    • Tabitha,
      I had the same feeling–I was reading the beginning thinking how jealous I was that she had everything so well organized and pulled together. When the reality part hit, I laughed out loud!
      Thanks, Mary, for illustrating our absurd notions of perfection with that beginning fairy-tale. I loved what you had to share 🙂

  3. Mary I sit here thinking wow FINALLY here is a Mom that has figured it all out to pefection and WHAMMO. Loved your blog and love your heart. Thanks so much for sharing. Debbie W. (OBS Small Group Leader)

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