Kelly at Exceptionalistic featured a post from Crystal at Serving Joyfully that got me thinking about how often I’ve been working and working, and felt like nobody’s noticed or cared. Then I began thinking, “What’s the point?” Then discouragement reared its ugly head and I was tempted to just quit.
Dearies, that is just what the enemy wants us to think! If he can get us to stop what we’re doing because we’re discouraged– whether it’s providing a stable, creative home for our children, a loving place for our husbands to come home to, or a godly, supportive classroom for our “other” children– it’s as good as if we stop because we’ve become the most filthy, vile reprobate.
I remember hearing Marilyn Meburg speak about this at a Women of Faith conference . The little slave girl Hagar had been so mistreated by her mistress Sarai (of course Hagar wasn’t completely innocent in the relationship either!) that she finally ran away into the wilderness. God met her there (Genesis 16: 7-13):
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; … And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”… She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” …
She was rejected by her mistress, whose idea the whole thing was in the first place; abandoned by her master, who had gone along with his wife’s bad idea, and was in a hopeless situation. But God knew the situation, and SAW HER. Sometimes, even more than a solution to our problems, we just need somebody to see us! We humans have an innate need for connection, and I think women in particular do. Some of us need affirmation more than others, and I know when my well is low because I’ve been giving and giving, I need it more than ever!
The building season of our marriage was the hardest. At a time when we both needed extra because we were stretched so thin, we were stretched too thin to give any extra! We had 3 children in 4 years, and Mr X started back to college when they were about 6, 3, and 2. He was working full time and going to classes 2 or 3 nights a week. I was a full-time stay-home mom, teaching piano 3 evenings a week. Those days were very long. Even though we knew the end result would be worth all the sacrifice, it was still a very difficult time. Then after a few years, as he approached the end of his degree, his classes were no longer offered at night, so I began teaching middle school full time and he worked part time, which added a different sort of stress – less money, a new job for me after having been home with children for 11 years, and growing kids of 5, 6, 9.
I dealt with exhaustion and recurrent sinus infections all the time. Mr X dealt with hard math classes, trying to make his work schedule around his school schedule, and probably the guilt of my having to work full time to provide for our family. Our relationship tools weren’t the greatest that early in our marriage. And again, if a marriage is neglected simply because it’s not the biggest fire to put out, it can die just as surely as if somebody’s had an affair.
What have I learned, in retrospect?
- Be oh-so-choosy about what you allow in your life. Choose, very intentionally, how you spend your time. If you don’t keep a tight reign on your schedule, people will add things and it will get out of control before you know what hit you.
- Keep the first things the first things. God. Husband. Children. Then jobs, hobbies, and everything else.
- SEE the people in your life. Let them know you do. When you start the appreciation ball rolling, it’s much more likely to keep rolling and give you what you need.
- Tell your fan club when you need a little extra love. You know you have one.
And finally, remember that your Heavenly Father sees you all the time.
- Isaiah 43:1 … I have called you by name. You are mine.
- John 10:14 … I am the good shepherd. I know my own.
- Psalm 139: 1-5 … Lord, you have examined me and know me. you know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts. You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions… You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power… (there’s lots more that is really good; read this whole chapter!)
- Psalm 91:14 … He knows my name.
Who do you see that needs a dose of encouragement?