Everything seemed to be going wrong that day.
I was constantly having to redirect or discipline the three year olds, and the baby was walking around whining and crying the day away as were trying to do school. Nothing could satisfy her. I tried everything from feeding, changing, snuggling, playing, and holding her to no avail. She just wanted to be grumpy. And she furrowed her brow decidedly, as if she were locking in the grump.
I could have called off school for a time and sent us all outside for a change of pace, but I didn't. I stuck to my guns, because this was supposed to play out just like I'd planned it, right?
So laughable, I know.
With children, nothing goes as planned. Unless you plan for some chaos.
These circumstances were frustrating to me, but that wasn't the problem. I was the problem. I was letting them frustrate me. When I let myself become unglued on the inside, it ties me up in knots. Then I become upset with myself, and take it out on everyone under the age of thirteen in the form of frustrated sighs and curt answers as a tension headache builds.
Guilt sneaks in and whispers,
"You really should be good at this by now. Or at least better than you are. They deserve more."
I inwardly agree, and wallow in my immaturity. Then fear chimes in,
"These kids are going to laugh at you later on. They're going to tell all sorts of stories to their spouses and children about how grumpy you could get over nothing."
I shudder to think of the stories told, and vow to keep the material for future stories to a minimum.
Naptime came at one o'clock, as it always does, and the Hallelujah Chorus began to echo through the halls of my mind. I was feeling better about the day, and about myself, now that I had nothing to be frustrated about. Or so I thought.
After unlocking my brain and kicking my feet up on the couch for a bit, I was feeling even better. There's just something about being able to truly think for the first time in a day. And then I remembered our dinner plans. We planned for it to be a crock pot day, and it was now 2:30, and I'd yet to turn on a crock pot. I dashed to the fridge to pull out the meat Jeremy had prepped for me the night before. He cut up the chicken so I could just throw it in the crockpot and pour the sauce over top. Easy Peasy.
But the chicken was not the chicken I was expecting. Don't laugh.
My dear husband had cut up the chicken like a saint, but I was imagining boneless skinless sorts of chicken (like I always used in this recipe). Not the skin-on bone-in stuff that was laying raw before me. I seriously couldn't figure out how to make this recipe without my kind of chicken.
I picked up the phone, half frustrated and half curious. What in the world did he expect me to do with this kind of chicken? Okay, you can laugh now. I was ridiculous.
I got ahold of him at work, and held it together as best I could. As I dialed, I changed my mind. I wasn't frustrated with him. He's a dinner-savior who cut up chicken to help me out. I was now frustrated with me (again) for being frustrated with him. I kindly asked him what I should do, because he's a great cook and loves to lend a hand.
Then I burst into tears. About chicken, about me, about this cycle of frustration. Then he had to cut the conversation short, poor man, because he shares an office with another man. And it may have gotten awkward talking to a woman who was crying about dinner, but wasn't really crying about dinner. I hung up, put the funky chicken in the crockpot, poured the sauce on top, and turned it to high with hopes it would be ready in 2.5 hours.
He called back about an hour later to check on me. With compassion filling his voice, he asked, "How are you?"
"I'm great now!" I chirped. And I was. But I imagined I sounded like a scary female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Crazy one minute, fine the next.
Then he said five words that make be cringe, "Can I tell you something?"
Immediately, I'm thinking he's going to tell me that I should really work on all of this. This cycle I've been finding myself in, for, oh, I don't know -- a year? But he doesn't.
He says, "It's a real sign of maturity, you know. How quickly you bounce back from frustration these days." Wait. What? Me, mature?
Like mature in my faith, mature? Wow, that was not what I was expecting him to say. Here I was, berating myself for getting frustrated so easily, and there he was seeing progress. I had been making beautiful progress! I saw it too once I took my eyes off my failures.
You're making progress too, you know. Like the way you bite your tongue instead of telling someone how wrong you think they are. Or the way you step out in faith in the midst of uncertainty, rather than hiding from it. Author Lysa TerKeurst calls it "imperfect progress."
That's me. I'm progressing imperfectly.
This was an incredible gift for me to receive. And I'm thinking people in your life would appreciate receiving it too. How can you encourage someone today who is making progress you can see?
Be an encouragement to that someone.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.