The two babies of this house have polar opposite ways of starting off the day. Christina wakes up like a small angry tornado. After about 30 minutes of thrashing around, coughing, yelling, and usually at least one large throw up, she settles down to look at the day like a reasonable human being. It’s safe to say she’s not a morning person. Jed, on the other hand, is more or less delighted to find himself in his bed upon waking up, is thrilled to death to see any human face, and is so full of things to chatter about and smile at that he can barely contain himself. It’s the same morning for both of them. One child is going to endure it with the greatest protest possible while the other is going to enjoy it thoroughly. I have a choice everyday, no matter what is in that day, to endure it or enjoy it. I have a choice to let go of desperately trying to control that which cannot be controlled, let go of my right to be bitter at things I cannot change, and let go of the crippling practice of self absorption. Or I can choose to just give up to whatever the current circumstances are in a gloomy cloud of defeat. Letting go is vastly different than giving up. Letting go happens on purpose. With action. And practice. Lots of practice. (Like, you may just need to start from square one on an hourly bases kind of practice. Ask me how I know.)
L – Lay down the worry.
E – Encourage someone else.
T - Talk less.
G – Give willingly.
O – Oxygenate.
“L – Lay down the worry”. My daughter, Christina, isn’t real big on touching things. Put a toy in her hand and she’s likely to drop it like a hot potato. She likes her own fingers and her own toes, and you can just keep your jingling dingling little bright colored toys to yourself thank you. She likes what she knows. In a way, the girl has got some good sense in that. When I see a problem headed my way, my first inclination is to grab that thing, look it all over, and take full possession immediately. I know this problem is awful and terrible. I just know it is going to get worse, and I have to, I must, do something about it. At the very least, I’m going to carry this problem around with me absolutely everywhere, and chew on it, and think on it, and be properly miserable about it every hour of the day…Unless I just choose not to, of course.
Despite his rather robust appearance my little man, Jed, has extremely fragile health. Within a matter of hours of getting a cold he can be deathly ill, literally. This rather lends itself to me obsessing over every little cough, funny sounding breath, odd wiggle of the toe, you name it. Since I know his illnesses progress quickly, I’ve given myself a little rule. Wait an hour and if he’s worse, I then have permission to be worried. Sometimes after an hour, I’m still not too sure, so I have to wait another hour. Nine times out of ten, I never actually get to the worrying part of the thing. It’s been such a helpful rule that I’ve started using it regularly in other matters with one small addition. I have to pray about it first, and then leave it for an hour. God is the only one who knows the yesterdays, todays and tomorrows of the whole business, so He’s really the only one who has the right to carry it around anyway. Physically write the thing on a piece of paper and walk away from it if you must, but leaving a thing completely alone for even a bit will take away its power to eat up every shred of mental peace. The fastest way to feel better about any problem is to just flatly refuse to carry it around.
“E- Encourage someone else”. Well that’s rather opposite of what we like to do during a rough patch, encourage someone else. If I’m having a problem, my problem is first and foremost on my mind. Not yours. So sorry, but that’s the truth of how we work isn’t it? Only that is actually a problem itself. Because dwelling on me and my problems tends to make me even less happy, and my problems become much bigger than they have any right to be. If I’m going to fix that, I’m going to need put something else in the brain besides the all-consuming thoughts of myself. If you’ve ever been around a person who has had an IV line through which they were given medicine, you probably know that some medicines are not compatible with other medicines. You can’t combine incompatible medicines, and send them through the same line together lest some undesirable reaction occur. As it turns out, outward thoughts are completely incompatible with inward thoughts. My brain can’t think two thoughts exactly at the same time, it may think 47,000 things alternately in 60 seconds, but it can’t do it at the same time. Thoughts have to take turns. So the trick lies with giving outward aimed thoughts the most air time. In other words, giving my brain some positive, outward focus, continually, on purpose, every day, as much as I can handle, is going to not only bless someone else, it’s going to largely replace all that “poor me” time…because, well there’s just not enough hours in the day for a proper pity party when you’ve got all those other people’s needs to think about too, now is there?
“T- Talk less.” By “talk”, I mean specifically, complain. Difficulties are, well difficult. Which generally means not fun. Which generally means there is most likely an entire list of legitimate things to complain about that have accompanied this difficulty. Which generally presents the obvious temptation to complain loud and long to anyone who makes the unfortunate mistake of asking us how we are doing. Which they will only do once if they are smart. Complaining is like turning on the heat in the house during August…it’s going to make the climate completely stifling for everyone in the room including for the person whose done it. Complaining caused the Children of Israel in the Bible problems from snake bites to boils and everything in between. I don’t know, but God might have been trying to make a point, something about not liking it? Complaining makes our troubles bigger and our joys smaller. So why do it? Why make things worse?
“G- Give willingly.” So let me tell you a little secret about “mommying” two special needs kids…they always, always need something. (As if typical kids don’t! Ha!) Anyway, total shocker here, but I don’t always like it. See, I’m not really the “nurturing” type of mom…I’m more the “if you aren’t missing a limb or dying I don’t want to hear about it” type of mom. So this constant need to watch this and that, and do this medicine at this time and change that thing at that time, and call Dr. So and So about whatever…gets on my nerves a bit. Then there’s the whole don’t take medically fragile kids around crowds so I’m basically a hermit (slight exaggeration) part of things. And before you know it, I can get in quite the stew of self pity. And do you know what the problem is? Hint, it’s not the kids. I get a bad attitude, not because my life is the slightest bit more difficult than anyone else’s, but because I love me just a little too much. Because waaaay back when I had just two gorgeously healthy little rascals to chase after, I still felt like I had just too much to deal with. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, precisely when I wanted to do it. I talk to people all the time who don’t like their life for one reason or the other, basically because they can’t do what they want to do when they want to do it, largely because of someone else’s dependence on them. Which boils down to “I love me more than I love you, and because your needs are an inconvenience, I am miserable.” Every single time I choose to love myself above all others, I will be a miserable mess. Every. Single. Time. So, if today I happen to be a miserable mess and I’m wondering why….maybe I might better just pause to ask myself who exactly am I loving the most today?
“O- Oxygenate.” Oxygen is everything to the body. To watch the oxygen saturation numbers of their babies is one of the first things preemie parents learn in the hospital. Having had two kids with bad lungs, our lives have literally revolved around monitoring oxygen. A kid who can’t breathe shows it, their skin color is bad, they don’t act happy, they work at breathing, they get tired…the physical signs are fairly obvious. My daughter has permanent brain injury due to hypoxia, or the lack of oxygen. The physical effects of a lack of oxygen will be with her for the rest of her life. While oxygen may be essential for the body, it won’t do much for the soul. But the soul needs a healthy, steady supply of life giving support too…and that’s only going to come from God. I need to be talking to Him, and He needs to be talking to me. All the good things we want in our lives like, kindness, peace, joy, healthy relationships, contentment, etc., is only going to come if the source of those things, God, is feeding them into my life. If there’s a lack of God in the soul, the life is going to show it by demonstrating a lack of those attributes that come from God. If I find myself huffing and puffing my way through life, I might just need to turn up the “O’s” a little and infuse my soul with a higher flow of Grace.
Basically. If I want my life to be more than just a series of events that I endure until I’m dead, I have to learn to LET GO. Every. Single. Day.
II Thess 3:3,13 “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. But ye brethren, be not weary in well doing.”