Being in and out of quarantine has definitely been an interesting cycle, hasn’t it? The first week went well. The kids and I spent a lot of time snuggling, reading, making playdough, and talking about whatever they wanted. I patted myself on the back for having things under control. For being a “good mom”.
Then, week two, it all fell apart. Baby hit and pinched. R bawled at everything. K decided she had been adopted, and wanted out of the family. The older girls were too busy to come around. I felt out of control. I started trying to control things — tighter schedule, less treats, more jobs. It got worse. Thankfully, in one of my cleaning frenzies, my CoDA book was uncovered from under all of the craft supplies. I reviewed my notes and reminded myself that I needed to live the first three steps.
Step 1: I am powerless over others and my life has become unmanageable. Yep! I was in the middle of an unmanageable life, and I have no control over the kids.
Step 2: Only God can restore me (us) to sanity. The only way for that to happen is to get back into His Word and pray.
Step 3: I made a decision to turn my life over to the care of God. I intentionally prayed. And, I picked up Unglued.
Realizing that I need more help in the first three steps, the first goal of 2021 is:
Using the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst, I will identify the type of unglued I am. I will work on a five day challenge to change my thinking in situations where raw emotions normally take over. I will teach my children the three grace steps. As a family, we will track our progress by a daily “temperature check” before bed. We will do these things during January 2021 so that we can have open and honest conversations without stuffing or exploding for a more healthy home.
Bible verse: 2 Chronicles 20:15 “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Go To Your Bubble!
There is an activity we do at my house. We call it Your Bubble, and it is adapted from a Kurt Duncan workshop I attended. In it, you imagine a bubble that as you breathe out encircles you. You notice the color, texture, smell, shape, and details of your bubble. It is a way to calm down, and a good indicator to me of what kind of emotions they are feeling that they haven’t been able to give words to.
In the book, Lysa talks about going to see David by Michelangelo, but was captivated by a collection entitled Prisoners. Unfinished sculptures that had been abandoned. Quite the opposite of being inside a bubble.
I’ve been thinking about this contrast this week. How I have the kids put themselves in a safe bubble to calm down, and I put myself in a hard place. Why do I refuse to show emotion in front of the kids? Okay, that isn’t honest because I often show frustration or anger. I need to show them joy, sorrow, and fear. I need to teach them how to walk through those messy parts of life in ways that build themselves and others up. That it is okay to cry. And yell. Or be angry. But we express it not at people where damage can be done.
Lysa’s prayer in this section got written on a sticky-note and put on the mirror in my bathroom: Oh God, chisel me. I don’t want to be locked in my hard places forever. I want to be all you have in mind for me.
Call to Grace in Three Steps
Step 4 now comes into play. As I pay attention to the labels I give myself in the moments of freak out, I have to evaluate them. For example, the week before Christmas is the time the kids and I make treats to take to the neighbors. This year, it was Christmas Eve, and I didn’t have anything made.
1. Identify the label/lie
Let’s see if you can catch them all! The thoughts running in my head were these:
I always make treats for the neighbors. I wish I could get it together this year! Why am I so far behind? If I was a better mom, I could get the kids to stop fighting, and we might be able to knock out some cookies. This is too much!
Do you see all the lies and labels I’ve placed on myself? Over cookies?! WOAH!
2. View the circumstance as a call to action
I stopped the internal dialogue. It was time to do some moral inventory. First, I could always buy treats to take to the neighbors. This might actually be a better solution since we are in the midst of a pandemic. And it would be okay if they came AFTER Christmas. Maybe a Happy New Year treat is a good tradition to start? Second, I have been dealing with a lot of new emotions in myself and the kids. That takes priority. I need to let the expectations go, and let God tell me what my To Do list looks like. I’m right where He needs me to be if I will just LET GO. Last of all, I am doing what I need to. No more, no less. Cookies will come, but maybe not today. And, we will all live.
3. Take action
I prayed. “Father, give me wisdom into what they need right now so we can have peace in the house again. Help me to let go of expectations that are unrealistic. Help me to give myself Grace as I follow Your To Do List.”
Then we pulled out blankets, built a fort, and watched Monster House. I briefly questioned our understanding of Holiday Movie, but let it go — at least they don’t discriminate. And, I let go of those expectations that were not serving me and the kids. Instead, I laughed with them at Baby’s impersonation of Mr. Nebbercracker. We opened the tin of popcorn a neighbor had given us (see, bought treats are just fine!) and popped straws into Kool-Aid pouches.
Using my new canva skills, I created a temperature tracker for the family. This week we will be taking a daily temperature check at the end of the day to see how things are going. Wish me luck — you know how this works, right. The thing I’m focusing on is the thing that is going to get difficult so I have the opportunity to practice it. This scene from Evan Almighty pops into my head.
Call to Action
Next week I’ll explore the type of unglued I am. Step 4: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. Gulp! That means I also get to work on Step 5: Admitted to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. I’m so glad to have you along as my accountability partners!
Are you willing to travel with me? I hope so! Watch yourself this week. What lies or labels are you giving yourself that need to be dismissed or let go of?