Rattled

Rattle! Elevation Worship https://youtu.be/xrAdbH28gIg

Megan is a dear friend who lived in our basement mother-in-law suite of our farmhouse-style home. She was a college student who really ended up being an integral part of our family, and she loved hanging around with our children. In those early days of motherhood, she was an intrinsic part of my social interaction and connection to adult conversation. Megan was, in short, our unofficial nanny. It was an amazing blessing to me to have her in my life. I am pretty sure we encouraged each other in our ups and downs. Even though she no longer lives with us, our friendship is still to this day an accurate representation of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (NLT). 

Megan encouraged me on down days and offered practical helps throughout that season, such as playing with the children while I prepared meals. When she moved out and baby number four came along, I had to be creative if I had an emergency situation. Like the time I had a high fever and my newborn had exploded her diaper, and a dear friend came over on the fly to bathe my baby and rescue me out of my impossible situation. Or like when number five came along, and I ended up with a broken foot (I ran over myself:  an embarrassing story in itself), and we arranged for our youth pastor’s sister to stay with us for a few days as I figured out how to navigate our stairs with crutches and newborn baby, another impossible situation. And I would be remiss if I weren’t to mention my own parents, who drove many miles to offer support time and time again! There was the time I was grocery shopping, and I had baby in the car seat, which was propped in the front of the cart, and one toddler in the back of the cart, with older children in tow, and my toddler decided to clamber over the cart and land with a thud on the concrete floor of the grocery store! My saving grace that day was our pastor’s wife, Cherie, who happened to be shopping at the time and helped me navigate the rest of that exhausting shopping trip!

We all have stories of these times that leave us feeling rattled and left alone in impossible scenarios. New moms have to learn not only how to navigate these situations from a practical standpoint, but also the emotional potholes of life that we can fall into. Those are the places where I have tried to make it a practice to “push through” in those seasons that tempt me to walk in emotional deflation. For a person who is historically changeable and wears her emotions on her sleeve, I learned that it was relatively easy for friends to see when I was wrestling, much like one would notice a wilting plant. These seasons felt especially long, difficult, and drawn-out during those postpartum months. I often felt like Peter Rabbit when he was trapped in Mr. McGregor’s garden. He had started out his adventure into the garden with robust excitement, but then Mr. McGregor discovered Peter’s trespass, and what ensued was a rabbit hunt. By the end of his escapade, Peter was beginning to feel desperate and ashamed of his trespass, which would ultimately lead to inevitable capture and being put in a rabbit pie. Definitely rattled. In his efforts to escape, Peter found himself entangled in a net “by the large buttons on his jacket.”  Trial after trial, growing weaker at each dead end. Feeling cornered, “he gave himself up for lost.” Can you identify with Peter’s distress? Can you sense the impossible situation? When you feel you’ve given your best efforts and still come up short, and you’re deflated, depressed, desperate, and definitely rattled? Ready to give up the battle of keeping one clean corner in the house or one step ahead of the dishes? When you can’t even find your footing, let alone give thanks for your circumstances? 

A more recent example from my life when I felt deflated and spiritually disappointed is when my brother-in-law lost his set of keys in our yard. We narrowed down the search to one acre, but the task seemed insurmountable, what with the yard covered with leaves and sticks. I prayed God would reveal to us where to look, and we searched for those keys with determination, but to no avail. Fortunately, they had a spare set with them and said their goodbyes so they could begin their long trek home. Two days later, I was relating the story to my mother-in-law, still in the depths of discouragement over the unanswered prayer. As I was expressing my disappointment over the situation, who should walk in but my 17 year old, who had been playing frisbee with his brother. He was triumphantly holding the set of keys in his hand!  That was a moment that clearly stands out as a “Sunday’s empty tomb” moment, and since that episode of discouraged faith, I have reminded myself of the song that reminds me, “Friday’s disappointment is Sunday’s empty tomb.”

I’m sure Peter had been proud of his large buttons, inasmuch as I certainly have felt proud that I should or even could keep my home tidy and properly running, like a great machine that was efficiently oiled, but that had broken down. In Peter’s scenario, who should come to his aid but some friendly sparrows who “implored him to exert himself.” That encouragement rallied him, and Peter “wriggled out just in time, leaving his jacket behind him.” His buttons were not worth his life, nor was his new blue jacket. 

In the wake of circumstances that tempt me to despair, I surround myself with the voices that would encourage me to “exert myself” and rally to new life. Out of desperation of my situation, I declare new life, new hope, new attitudes that help me walk again.

“A great point is gained when we have learned not to struggle against the circumstances God has appointed for us.” H.L. Sidney Lear

“Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness.” Colossians 1:11

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