Friday, March 21, 2008


Do you ever feel like a juggler with every ball you're trying to keep in the air lying broken on the ground?

Thomas was late to pre-school twice this week, because I'm still forgetting what time it starts. I didn't go to Lizzy and Ben's Easter hat parade. We have barely visited Steve's family recently, although his father is ill. I missed one friend's birthday celebrations because I forgot, and didn't buy another friend her birthday gift because, well, I forgot. Every time I see Ben's shoes I'm reminded he's been needing new runners for a month, and every time I pick up my handbag I see the vacuum cleaner bag box I placed strategically near it a couple of weeks ago to remind me to go and buy more vacuum cleaner bags. The kids need new clothes. I need new clothes. I just had to ring Lizzy's friend's mum and disappoint her 9-year-old daughter, cancelling a visit to McDonald's after gym class today because I've double-booked a family Easter celebration (I only remembered the trip to McDonald's half-way through the phone-call). And I never offered to bring a salad for my busy, tired, anxious mother to help with the Easter meal she's preparing tonight.

Put it down to exhaustion, worry, stress, an over-busy start to the year, weeks of extremely hot weather, the fluey bug which has been going round our family, my own aching tiredness this past week ... and yes, there are reasons. But I can't shake off the feeling that I'm a terrible person, that I'm a disaster as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, daughter-in-law, and child of God.

* * * * *

That's what I wrote yesterday. I didn't post it, because though I spent some of the morning crying over the balls I've dropped, I had absolutely nothing meaningful to say about it. But I'm posting it today to let you know you're not alone, if you ever feel like this.

I did realise one thing: how reluctant I am to pray. Simply to pray.

How dearly I love to solve my (and others') problems, to find a spiritual technique which will bring me (and others) comfort. How often Christianity (for me) is just another self-help program. A sop to my pride. A step on the road to perfection.

How helpless I feel when I can't fix things any more!

But when reading the Bible doesn't seem to get past my eyeballs, and I can't lift my mind to God's truth even when I try, and I don't want to talk to my husband or ring a Christian friend because I feel like I've already worn out their ears with my problems, there's only one thing left: prayer.

And it doesn't need to be meaningful, or uplifting, or immediately comforting. It doesn't need to solve anything. It doesn't need to feel like it pierces the ceiling.

It is what it is: a chance to tell my heavenly Father I feel completely lousy, to cry out my discouragement to him, and to beg him for help, as his people have done through all the generations:

    Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. (Psalm 31:9)

A bending of the knee, an acknowledgement of my need, a place to turn first not last. A Person to turn to. An end to all my pride, programs and perfectionism. Not poetry, not ecstasy, not an opiate. The meat and bread of the spiritual life: petition.


* * * * *

Is Easter Friday an innapropriate day for a post like this? Maybe. Maybe not.

Except I slept in this morning until the incredibly late time of 7.18 (the kids are staying at Grandma's) and thought into the blessed silence: isn't it amazing that the gritty reality of the cross took place a couple of thousand years ago?

The real, dark, God-forsaken day that God's only Son called out in anguish to a silent heaven:

    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? (Psalm 22:1)
The day he cried out to skies of brass. The day he plunged into death and hell itself. The day when the resurrection felt like an eternity and a universe away.

A day as real as today.


Thank you, Father, for the gift of your dear Son into our disappointing, frustrating, messy world. Thank you that he died for me in a world dark with your rejection. Thank you that he was forsaken by you instead of me, so I can speak to you as my own dear Father.

Thankyou that he died to bring me the gift of prayer.


mattnbec said...

Thanks, Jean. I recently stumbled upon your blog. I'm gald for your honest approach and willingness to share your brokensness and reflect on it in the light of the gospel. I really resonated with "the weight I'm carrying" too. Encouraging stuff. Thank you.

Jean said...

Nice to hear from you, mattnbec. Am I talking to Matt or Bec?!

Emma P said...

Thanks Jeanos

Rosie said...

Yes, thank you for your honesty. I followed a link here from Gordon Cheng's blog a couple of months ago and have been really struck by what you write and have recommended it to lots of Christian girlfriends. I find it surprisingly easy to feel like the only person who struggles with Christian living and to swallow the lie that the wisest/godliest/most-unflappable types actually living out a pain-and-hassle-free Christian experience. It takes courage to write as you do and it's much appreciated. Keep going. Lately I've been much encouraged by themes in Philippians about "contending together" for the gospel and reminded that we don't have to keep going on our own - thanks for the help!

Jean said...

Thanks for the encouragement, all of you, it is so encouraging to know that what I write encourages somebody (that was a lot of encourages in one sentence!). Yes, honesty sometimes take courage (and I find it doesn't get easier with practice) but it's worth it if it helps someone to feel like they're not alone and to keep going. So thankyou for encouraging me to keep being honest.