There are so very many areas in life where my natural tendency still needs some tweaking. That's why I'm so thankful that I have the Holy Spirit in me helping me to override, and reshape over time, my natural reactions to be more in line with who He wants me to be.
For example, when someone is cranky at me, my natural response is to think, "I don't deserve to be treated that way." But then the Holy Spirit in me says, "Maybe she's in the midst of some hard circumstances and feeling pretty frustrated herself." The goal is to shorten the time between my natural reaction and my God-given response until my instinctual reaction is God-honoring.
I feel like this has been the theme of my week already. It has led me to a great deal of gratitude for God's Spirit working within me to help me.
Let me just give you a couple examples.
I had a plan for yesterday. It involved quite a bit of planning, actually. The plan started with an appointment for Nolan to have a 3.5 hour medical test. It called for Nolan to follow a specific diet for 24 hours before the test, which he was extremely unhappy about. It meant I had to contact his teacher on Friday to ask her to send home his make-up work for him to complete over the weekend before he would miss school on Monday. It required me talking to a friend in advance to see if she could pick up Nora after preschool and feed her lunch and keep her until I could get her in the afternoon. It involved me begging Jared to rearrange his work schedule so he could take Griffin to school and Nora to preschool so Nolan and I could leave on time for his appointment. Don't let Nolan eat breakfast before the test. Don't forget Nora's backpack. Make sure to pack a lunch for Nolan to eat after the test. Take entertainment for the 3.5 hours of sitting at the doctor's office.
None of it went according to plan.
All morning Nolan had been saying he didn't feel well. I assured him it was just because he hadn't eaten, and I moved everyone along to get ready. But my own stomach was rumbling and grumbling. I ignored it because I didn't have time to be sick.
Just before we all needed to leave, Jared proudly announced that he arranged to work from home all day. My reaction was something along the lines of "What good does that do me when I won't even be home?" Not a proud moment for me. Don't worry, I apologized later.
Nolan and I did indeed leave on time, and Jared did get the other two children to their schools. I made it through road construction and morning traffic and hospital parking. After checking in and having Nolan's vitals taken, Nolan kept laying on me and complaining about how he felt. I comforted him and tried to pretend I wasn't also feeling quite questionable. Then he shot up and told me puke was coming up. I grabbed his shoulders, yelled to the ladies behind the desk to ask where the bathroom was, and then Nolan just started vomiting into his hands. We each spotted garbage cans on opposite sides of the room, so as I tried to pull him to the right, he broke away and ran to the left. He might be the loudest puker there ever was. As he spent a solid 2-3 minutes heaving over that garbage can, other families in the waiting room and all of the staff were witnessing the scene.
After Nolan and the floor were cleaned up, a nurse gave him the option of going through with the test if he wanted. Since he had already done the prep diet and taken off school and made up homework, he wanted to give it a try. He had to blow into a bag to get a baseline (measuring hydrogen in his breath). Then he had to drink a special solution, which he said tasted pretty good. "I'm glad I puked because my stomach feels better now," he said. So we went back out the waiting room, knowing he would have to blow into the bag every hour for three more hours. We were not there for three more hours.
I tried to read a book while Nolan did homework, but all I could do was pray every single moment that I wouldn't vomit in that waiting room. When I didn't think I could take it any longer, I went to the bathroom just off the waiting room. I sent Jared a text message saying I might need him to come switch places with me. When I walked back out of the bathroom, I saw Nolan leaning over another garbage can. I ran him to the bathroom before he started another round of about 2-3 minutes of the loudest heaving known to man. I sent Jared a text saying, "Nevermind. We're coming home."
We let the nurse know what happened, gathered our belongings, and started the trek home. It felt like a very long journey. We even got stuck waiting for a train to pass. Every minute I prayed a fresh prayer Lord, please don't let me puke right now.
When we got home, I immediately apologized to Jared for my earlier reaction to him working from home. He had to spend most of the day closed up downstairs in my craft room so he could be on conference calls and do actual work, but he was able to get groceries and pick up Griffin from school and make the kids dinner. My friend who had picked up Nora from preschool kept her most of the afternoon and then dropped her off at my house so I didn't have to go out and pick her up (or interrupt Jared's work to send him).
Folks, let me just tell you honestly that my natural reaction to a day like this would have been, "Why?!" Why couldn't this day have gone according to plan? Why couldn't we have just completed the test to try to get answers for Nolan? Why did I have to go through so much work and planning for nothing? Why would You let us get sick, God?
But yesterday the Spirit at work within me whispered thankfulness into my mind and heart. I found myself being so grateful. Thank you that I didn't throw up in the waiting room. Thank you that those nurses were so compassionate to Nolan and didn't make him feel bad about what happened. Thank you for getting us home safely. Thank you that I didn't have to pull over on the side of the road for one of us to get sick. Thank you for allowing Jared to be home today to fill in where I was too weak. Thank you for a friend to help Nora have a much better day than she would have had with me. Thank you for my children being so sweet and understanding of how I'm feeling. Thank you that my friend was so understanding when I had to cancel our evening plans. Thank you that I was able to lay on the couch in jammies when I just didn't have the strength to do anything else. Thank you.
The most astounding part to me was when I felt my heart pray, "God, this day didn't go at all how I had planned or how I had hoped. But I trust you."
That's not me. At all. That is only by the work of the Holy Spirit in me.
Tonight I had a meeting at my kids' school at 5:15. I had to leave that meeting early in order to make it (slightly late) to a meeting at church at 6:00. My meeting at church went until 7:00, and Jared had a meeting at church starting at 7:00. It was a crazy evening, and I still don't feel wonderful, although I feel better than yesterday, so I just didn't have much energy as I was getting the kids showered, teeth brushed, and doing devotions before bed.
For the sake of time, let me just skip to the part where I was trying to pray before bed and two of my three children were crying hysterically. I had to say a quick prayer, separate kids, and try not to say unsanctified things. It turned into a full-blown, volume 50, ugly incident. It reminded me of older days with Griffin. It was not a good reminder.
Now I suppose this is the part where you might need to know that I have a tendency to be a bit of a yeller with my kids. Another not-so-proud moment for me to admit that. I've worked and worked at it, but I still hit this moment of wanting everyone to close their mouths and fall in line. It doesn't really help the situation, but it's my natural reaction.
Tonight God helped me to override that natural reaction. There may have been some, ahem, stern talking, and I for sure discussed with the two children in question exactly what poor choices they had made and what needed to be changed. But instead of ending with me being completely exasperated, it ended with me tucking in each child and having a tender moment with them. Griffin and I had a meaningful conversation about everything that had happened, as well as his tendency to get very upset whenever he makes a mistake of any kind. With Griffin, I have to work so hard to get to the heart of what's upsetting him, but it's worth the work. Tonight my payoff for that work was snuggling his unbelievably soft cheeks until he fell asleep.
I'm so very thankful that God hasn't given up on me and that He keeps showing me that His ways are better than mine. These may just be two examples of victory, but I'm taking my two little victories and carrying them into whatever tomorrow has in store for me.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)