May 4, 2008

First Things First

5/04/2008 — cori

I've been in a funk lately. Overwhelmed with many, many things. I found myself losing the joy in life, the joy in my children, the joy that used to come in just waking up to a brand, new day. I've let that joy be replaced with anxious thoughts, doubt, self-loathing, questions too numerous to expound on, and fear.

It takes me a while to figure it out since I'm not very good at seeing the forest from the trees...but it finally dawned on me: No wonder you're so overwhelmed, Cori, you stopped trusting God and started trusting in your own strength. You should be worried! You're not strong enough to carry these burdens. In other words...I lost my focus. It was clearly on me. I hate it when I do that. Somebody slap me in the face - please!

A few weeks ago, right at the height of all my fears, we took a field trip to a nursing home. I didn't want to go. I wanted to sit and sulk and continue to justify my stupidity and my anxieties. But God had different plans for that day. It was to be the day He would gently start shifting my focus back to Him in the most subtle, beautiful of ways.

We had brought flowers to pass out at the nursing home and were going door to door talking with each resident. It was very hard. I have a huge heart for the elderly and that lump in my throat that has been my constant companion of late, was not helping the situation. I was grieving over these poor people left to live out the last of their days in boredom, loneliness and isolation. My heart hurt for them and it was all I could do to talk and choke back my tears. That is, until we met Lucille.

Lucille's room was the last one on the hall. The kids and I walk in to give her the flowers and she is just so kind and gracious and sharp as a tack. All she wanted to do was talk, ask us questions, and tell us about her life. We (me more than the kids) were loving every minute of it. Listening to her life was like reading a history book. She told me how she raised 10 kids on a farm not far from here, that she now has 22 grandkids, 20+ great grandkids and 2 great-great grandchildren. The question I asked next popped into my head and out of my mouth before I had time to think about it.

"What parenting advice could you give to me, Miss Lucille?" I needed to know. Here she was happy and content despite her circumstances. A mother of 10 certainly must have plenty of advice to pass along. If she didn't seemed the least bit overwhelmed with 10, why should I fret about 3? This is the wisdom she gave me, "First things first, Honey."

My eyes teared up, I got the chills and I swallowed real hard to push that lump back down my throat so I could thank her from the bottom of my heart without crying. My spirit instantly knew what she meant...however, it took a while to reach my brain.

Why do I always try to make things more difficult than they really are? Life, parenting, marriage, (insert any topic) really is very simple...all you have to do is put first things first. To me that means doing all I do out of love for those I love and for God. I'm putting myself first when I spend all my time obsessing over every worry, fear and decision - my mind is solely on me and I have been totally neutralized. I'm no good to anyone around me because my eyes are on me and my problems - I can't even see anyone else's needs (especially my children) Put love first and the everything else just seems to work itself out. Love eliminates fear, worry, doubt, and conflict. I just have to learn to say to myself, "If I make a mistake, so be it...I'll learn from it and go on. But right now, I'm going to make the best decision for this situation and trust God and then rest in that peace." I can no longer continue to live second guessing every choice I make, wondering if I'm doing this or that right or wrong, hating myself when I mess up. That is putting me first. I want to put God first, my family first, others first.

Thank you Lucille!

I have a feeling this is not the last time I will be learning this exact same lesson.

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